Yara Shahidi: Using Television and Social Activism to Make a Difference
Saying Yara Shahidi is “busy” would be an understatement. Her work in television and her dedication to social activism has earned her NAACP awards, meetings with politicians, and a Harvard recommendation straight from former First Lady Michelle Obama herself. There’s no doubt that Shahidi has made her mark in the entertainment industry, but her success starring in shows such as Black-ish and Grown-ish as ‘Zoey’ has only paved the way to her influential status. Aside from having immaculate fashion and music taste (and sharing with the world through Instagram), the now 21-year-old has become a household name and made her mark as an impactful member of Gen Z.
STEM awareness, intersectional feminism, and voting have been the main focus of Shahidi’s activist work. In high school, Shahidi started a club by partnering with Young Women’s Leadership Network to help provide online mentorship and to end poverty through education.
Today, she has a nationally impactful organization called WeVoteNext that launched in 2018, which is an initiative that encourages civic engagement and voting among young people. The platform stayed extremely active during election season and provided things like registration deadline dates, poll locations, and act breakdowns.
“I realized I could not only be a leader in conversation, but I could be one of the voices representing things that are near and dear to my heart,” she told Glamour Magazine.
Shahidi’s impact on young women is clear. She uses her platform to educate and bring awareness to the issues that we all should care about, in addition to mentoring and giving advice to young women. Whether it be about skincare, self-love, or finding your seat at the table.
“It’s important that women of color and anyone from marginalized identities understands that they will try to intentionally unsettle you,” she said in the same Glamour interview. “They’ll do this so that you’ll spend so much of your time trying to convince people you belong that you don’t get to dig in and do the work you were meant to do.”
I discovered Shahidi the way most people have — through television years ago, when Black-ish first aired in 2014. And since, I’ve seen her grow up to be a role model for young women around the world. She unapologetically embraces her heritage, her flaws, and her intelligence, something everyone could learn to implement in their lives. Along with her social and political activism, her characters on TV have taught lessons, shown experiences from different points of view, and have provided comedic relief and friendships when her audience has needed it most. Shahidi is a force of nature that will only continue to make a change. And apparently, according to Oprah, will be The President of The United States one day.
Today (February 10th), Shahidi turns 21-years-old. In her honor, celebrate with a drink, a Hulu binge of Grown-ish, and shout a big F.U. to the patriarchy.
–Amanda Davis, Content Creator
*Yara Shahidi Photo Header Credit — Getty Images via Shondaland*