‘Grown-ish’

Yara Shahidi is helping lead a politically active generation — and getting ready for college

Actress Yara Shahidi (Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Turner)

Yara Shahidi, the 18-year-old star who earned a feature role as Zoey Johnson on Black-ish at 14 and now features in its spinoff, Grown-ish, is leading a push to involve and engage her generation in politics during her scant free time.

In order to fit in time for filming for the second season of Grown-ish, Shahidi, who is set to begin her freshman year at Harvard this fall, says that she’ll have to complete at least some of her college coursework online. But she also wants to fit in time “to have as much of a college experience as possible” as she pursues a degree in sociology and African-American studies — courses that she says will prepare her for a career that is “policy adjacent.” Already, Shahidi is leading an initiative, Eighteen x 18, to inform teenagers about politics and register them to vote ahead of the upcoming midterms.

“My passion really stemmed from having gone through the 2016 election, where myself and many of my peers were unable to vote,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. While her distaste for Trump is no secret, she says her focus is on giving her peers the information they need to make informed decisions.

“Part of it,” she added, “is [being] a young black girl with the last name Shahidi who has relatives in Iran.”

Shahidi has already made a big impact on some of the biggest names in politics — Michelle Obama wrote her a college letter of recommendation, and she’s appeared at events for politicians such as Hillary Clinton, and senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.

“If Yara wants to be president one day,” says her Eighteen x 18 partner Michael Skolnik decisively, ”she will be.”

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter’s Lacey Rose, Shahidi also spoke about her plan to launch a politically-minded podcast with the Pod Save America team — as well as how her unique family has helped shape her worldview and career.

Two years ago, Shahidi appeared on a panel at the Women in the World New York Summit for a discussion about how race is being addressed in the rapidly changing TV landscape. At the time, Shahidi compared her role to the Holden Caulfield character from J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. “I get to play the voice for Generation Z,” she said, elaborating on the creative process behind her character and how she was able to give the character a new dimension. Watch that full video below.

Read the full story at The Hollywood Reporter.

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