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Actress, Activist and Fashion Icon, Yara Shahidi

by Ebony Winters for Urban Mindz

Yara Shahidi did not have a typical childhood growing up. Her mother, an African-American commercial actress, and her father, an Iranian cinematographer, moved her family to Los Angeles, CA when she was four years old. Following this transition, she and her younger brother, Sayeed, began acting careers of their own. Though she’d had a respectable early career, having roles in Scandal, Alex Cross, and Butter, it wasn’t until her role in Black-ish that her star was really born.

Yara’s role as Zoey Johnson on Black-ish, and the spin-off Grown-ish, not only brought her to the forefront of mainstream Hollywood and urban culture, it also helped shape her activism. Black-ish is an ABC sitcom that brings awareness to political and social issues from the perspectives of a modern Black American family, and as someone who comes from a family where her parents and grandparents taught her about showing love for people of all backgrounds and fighting for social justice, she believes in speaking up for oneself and fighting for the greater good of all humanity.

This fight that she possesses is, in part, the reason why she has made a name for herself in the fashion industry. As she puts it, “fashion is inherently political”, which is why she and her stylist, Jason Bolden, select some of her fashions to make political and personal statements.

Her work in the fashion industry parallels much of what she has done in her life and career. When she first started acting in commercials, her mother, Keri, was often right by her side, including when she worked on the Role Model campaign for the American Eagle-owned label, Aerie. From the screen to fashion magazines, to even her academic studies, Yara’s family has always had an influence on the decisions she’s made. Her second cousin, hip-hop artist, Nas, for example, has a fellowship bestowed in his name at Harvard University where Yara recently started her college career in fall 2018, studying Sociology and African-American Studies.

As a bright, talented, and driven young woman of color, Yara is on a mission to change the world for the better, and if judging by the accomplishments she has made thus far, it is safe to say that she will definitely succeed in her mission.