Yara Shahidi has made a name for herself as not only one of Hollywood’s talented young stars to watch, but also as an activist who’s using her platform to encourage others to speak out about issues of inequality and injustice.
So, it came as no surprise when, last year, Shahidi announced that she would be taking a gap year before enrolling at Harvard University to focus on upcoming projects and issues close to her heart.
Shahidi was able to spend the year working with brands on cool new campaigns and even popped up in the music video for one of the year’s biggest songs.
The actress has accomplished quite a bit within her gap year. Here are just a few of the things she’s achieved.
Her Black-ish spin-off Grown-ish premiered
Shahidi’s Black-ish character Zoey Johnson landed her own spin-off, aptly named Grown-ish, which premiered back in January. The series follows Zoey as she navigates college and her new independence. Yara Shahidi told ESSENCE last August that the goal of the show was “to portray college in its most authentic form.”
Oprah Winfrey named her one young person who gives her “hope for the future”
The actress got a shout out from the media mogul, who said she hopes she’s still around when Shahidi becomes president. “That is going to happen if she wants it to happen,” Winfrey said during a Q&A on O The Oprah Magazine‘s Instagram account.
Shahidi popped up in Drake’s video for “Nice For What”
There were a slew of familiar faces in Drake’s video for “Nice For What” and Shahidi was one of them. The Grown-ish actress appeared alongside Issa Rae, Tracee Ellis Ross, Jourdan Dunn, and Misty Copeland.
She launched a new voting initiative
Teaming up with NowThis to get the message out, Shahidi launched Eighteen x ’18, an initiative to get young voters engaged in politics and encourage first-time voters to head to the polls for midterm elections.
And, she teamed up with Aerie for #AerieReal, the brand’s new body-positive campaignShahidi starred in the campaign alongside her mom, Keri, and other notables like Aly Raisman and Iskra Lawrence. The campaign focused on body positivity, and encouraged women to embrace the body they were given.