6 fascinating facts about Yara Shahidi from her Hollywood Reporter interview


There is no stopping Black-ish star Yara Shahidi. The 18-year-old actress is set on inciting change wherever she goes, from Hollywood to Harvard and beyond.

Yara Shahidi on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter. Photo via Sami Drasin/The Hollywood Reporter

Black-ish‘s breakout star Yara Shahidi spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about her college-bound goals, what sparked her political activism, plus how she’s finding ways to make major change in Hollywood — all at age 18. Check out the most interesting bits from the interview below.

For starters, she has a letter of recommendation from Michelle Obama

Shahidi will attend Harvard University in a few weeks. She told The Hollywood Reporter that she feels it won’t be as hard as everyone assumes college to be. If this were coming from any other 18-year-old, there’d be skepticism. But Shahidi not only has a perfect GPA and some impressive application essays, she also has a letter of recommendation from former first lady Michelle Obama.

The actress was unsurprisingly accepted into every school she applied to, from Yale and Stanford to the historically black women’s college Spelman. Shahidi plans to get a degree in sociology and African-American studies, seeing her future as “policy adjacent.”

She’s got some uber famous relatives

The actress’ family is no stranger to fame. Shahidi has one cousin who is an astronaut, Anousheh Ansari, and her second cousin is rapper Nas. Shahidi’s told InStyle that her mother grew up with the famous rapper and she was a flower girl at his wedding. Her mother was a successful commercial actress and her father was Prince’s official photographer. Yeah, our jaws have dropped and they likely will stay that way.

Shahidi told THR that “it’s hard to even synthesize the 
impact of having that as my family.”

Her activism was sparked by the 2016 election

Like many her age, Shahidi says she felt the need to become politically active following the 2016 election. She and many of her peers were unable to vote at the time, and she admits:

"There was a feeling of being lost. Like, ‘What can we do to contribute to our sociopolitical landscape."

Yara Shahidi on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter. Photo via Sami Drasin/The Hollywood Reporter

And she’s ready to make change happen

As a mixed-race millennial whose mother is African-American and father emigrated from Iran, Shahidi has spoken up on issues close to her before, once comparing Black Lives Matter to the protests in Iran. Speaking on our current president and her reasonable frustrations, Shahidi told Larry King’s web series:

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

Shahidi is a proud activist and the head of Eighteen x 18, an initiative that encourages teams to register to vote ahead of the 2018 midterms. In what we think should be a birthday theme from now till November, Shahidi had a registration booth at her 18th birthday party.

She told THR that instead of simply bashing the president (a popular trend among her celebrity peers), Shahidi wants to do more, and more importantly, inform more.

"The knowledge disparity stems from the fact that news isn’t marketed to me and my peer. It’s as though it doesn’t pertain to us, even though half of these policies that are being implemented will affect us. We know people who are immigrants, we know people who are undocumented."

She urged Grown-ish creator to have a diverse cast

Famous for her time on Black-ish and now heading to the show’s spinoff, Grown-ish, Shahidi is definitely an entertainer. But her time on a television show set hasn’t stopped her goals to spark progress. Kenya Barris, creator of both shows, told THR that she’s definitely put in her point of view when it comes to plot and dialogue, adding that the star urged him to “cast actors with a wider array of skin tones.”

Inspired? Listen to her upcoming podcast

That’s right — there is so much more we can hear and learn from Shahidi as she’s teamed with Crooked Media, who have brought us hit podcasts like Pod Save America. She’s set to launch her own in a few weeks, with a working title of 18 x 18 with Yara Shahidi. We’re sure to hear from an eclectic mix of guests on her show, and fingers-crossed, Shahidi speaks with her wish list guest, 28-year-old political superstar Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Must Read. The Good Place star D’Arcy Carden talks season 3. light

Read Yara Shahidi’s full interview with The Hollywood Reporter here.