'Black-ish's' Teen Star Yara Shahidi Says She's Nothing Like Her On-Screen Character

Photo by ABC
The 14-year-old actress, who happens to be rapper Nas's cousin, opens up about her new role on 'Black-ish.'

So far, Yara Shahidi's character on ABC's Black-ish thoroughly represents the American teenager. "Zoey's consumed by her phone, always with friends, talking and texting, posting on Instagram and stuff like that," Shahidi tells ESSENCE.com. "Even though she's popular and smart. But you don't see how smart she is or how clever she is because it's subdued by the fact that she's tweeting or texting."

And although Shahidi, 14, can't really relate to Zoey's digital connection, she totally understands how real the character is. "For me, personally, I'm usually not on my phone that much. I prefer listening to old radio shows and watching foreign films than tweeting," she said. "I think Zoey kind of represents the teenage girl."

Luckily for Shahidi (and viewers), Zoey's character really gets to develop into something teens should take note of. "You really get to know who Zoey is," said the actress. "She becomes more complex when she's off her phone. When she decides to be in the present, she's funny and clever. It's one of the things that we have to just learn as a generation--that sometimes it's okay to step back. It doesn't mean that you're not going to be popular. It just means that you're a more unique human being."

You can catch Shahidi alongside Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laurence Fishburne on Black-ish cast Wednesday's at 9:30/8:30c, on ABC.

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Filed under: Celebrity, Black-ish