Yara Shahidi might be one of the most recognizable young Hollywood stars, but the grounded and newly-minted 18 year old isn’t letting fame change the fact that she’s still a teenager learning and growing in the world.
The Grown-ish actress spoke candidly with writer Zeba Blay for ESSENCE’s April 2018 issue, discussing everything from identity, race, handling fame, “wokeness,” and Twitter comments.
“Quite honestly, I’m the kind of person to get my feelings hurt over something somebody said on Twitter,” the actress reveals to ESSENCE. “There are those moments when I can go through 10 million amazing comments that are super supportive, and one person may say something and I’ll stew over it. That’s something that I’ve actively had to work on.”
Shahidi, who was accepted to Harvard last year, decided to take a gap year before heading to college in order to focus on Grown-ish and activism. However, Shahidi reveals that she wasn’t completely sure about the former, saying, “I’ve always struggled with Hollywood feeling trivial. Red carpets aren’t worth it. As fun as it is to get dressed up, it is surreal to be sitting at the Teen Choice Awards while [something like] Charlottesville is happening.”
Through the Freeform series, Shahidi has been able to combine both her activism and her acting. Still, having such a massive platform doesn’t leave much room for Shahidi to make mistakes.
“When you are in the public eye as a person of color, you are given very little room to mess up. [It means] letting the culture down.”
But there isn’t always a constant pull between being a celebrity and being politically active. For the rising star, she’s balancing both beautifully. The actress recently shared an original poem on gun violence and race in support of March for Our Lives after speaking at the event.
“I feel comfortable putting my political stances out there without feeling as though I am filling some sort of quota,” she says about being a socially active teenager who still wants to have fun. “I don’t have a wokeness quota for the day.”