Black-ish Star Yara Shahidi Is So Cool, Even Michelle Obama Is a Fan
Yara Shahidi is inspirational. The 17-year-old Iranian-African American actress and star of ABC's Black-ish describes herself as a "humanitarian and activist," but it's her actions that speak much louder than her words. From mentoring young girls to lead healthy and positive lifestyles to using her platform to spread awareness about human rights, Yara is the real deal. Read on for six reasons she's the definition of black girl magic.
Yara has been accepted into every college she applied to, including Harvard. Former First Lady Michelle Obama even wrote her a letter of recommendation and also tapped Yara for her Let Girls Learn initiative, which promotes equal opportunity to education for girls around the world. During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Yara revealed she will double major in sociology and African-American studies but plans on taking a break the year after graduating from high school. The Black-ish actress told People she definitely wants to take classes on campus for a traditional college experience.
In 2016, Yara delivered an enlightening Ted Talk-style speech about the consequences of perpetuating stereotypes based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender. Yara has also spoken out against police brutality in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and lambasted President Donald Trump's travel ban on several Muslim countries, which she viewed as a form of xenophobia and religious discrimination.
Yara has been acting since the age of 6, starring in films like Salt with Angelina Jolie and Imagine That with Eddie Murphy. She also had a major recurring role on ABC's Scandal playing the younger version of Olivia Pope. Yara currently stars as Zoey on the Emmy-nominated ABC sitcom Black-ish. And she's managed to do all of this while continuing her education and graduating with a 4.6 GPA!
She gives back.
As a part of her work with Integrative Clinics International, Yara had the opportunity to travel to Jamaica when she was 14 years old to offer healthcare services to those living in underserved communities. Yara also signed on as a mentor for Saving Our Daughters, a nonprofit organization that encourages young girls to come up with solutions to the challenges many teens face, including cyberbullying, domestic violence, and dating abuse.
She's a leader.
Yara has become a role model for young girls everywhere by setting an example of what it means to be an activist. "[I] feel like I am not alone and there is so much of Generation Z that is motivated and ready to take action," she told W magazine last November. "I realize the problems we are facing now directly affect me and my community in one way or another. It's important that we take action in everything and help improve everybody's lives."
She's a style icon in the making.
When she's not obsessing over denim heels and turtlenecks, Yara can be found shopping at affordable clothing stores like Zara and Adidas. Yara's number one rule for feeling confident? Be yourself. "It's important to feel as though you are authentically yourself," she told Vogue. "Maintaining a sense of your personality grounds you in your space. I try and just make what I wear a reflection of how I feel at that moment, at that particular place in time." So that's the secret to how she rocks the red carpet like nobody's business.