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Star, ABC's "Black-ish" & Freeform's "Grown-ish"

Yara Shahidi: Biography at a Glance

  • Star of the Freeform series Grown-ish, which follows 'Zoey Johnson' (from Black-ish) as she heads off to college and quickly discovers that not everything goes her way
  • Continues to guest star as Zoey in the multi award-winning ABC comedy series Black-ish
  • Won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a comedy series, nominated for a Teen Choice Award and is the recipient of a 2016 Gracie Award for Female in a Breakthrough Role
  • Founded "Yara's Club," a bi-monthly digital meet up for Yara and students to discuss societal issues, self-improvement and higher education
  • Served as the spokesperson for DoSomething.Org and 3M's "Science Sleuth" campaign, which raised funds for classrooms in need of science and technology resources in Minnesota and St. Louis



Yara Shahidi is an scholar, activist, model, and actress who stars as Zoey Johnson in the popular ABC comedies "Black-ish" and spin-off series "Grown-ish." One of Hollywood’s most heralded young talents, Shahidi continues to use her platform to empower and inspire others.

Since "Grown-ish" debuted in September 2014, Shahidi has been awarded an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a comedy series, a BET Award for Young Star, a Gracie Award for Female in a Breakthrough Role, and nominated for a Teen Choice Award.

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Shahidi spent the early part of her childhood in the heart of Minneapolis, where she enjoyed annual visits to the state fair and assisting her grandfather with the family’s Persian Rug shop. Her father is a successful cinematographer, and her mother is a widely-acknowledged commercial actress. The young star received her start alongside her mother, appearing in several international commercial and print campaigns. Her first major film came when she was offered the opportunity to audition for the role of Olivia Danielson in the Paramount film "Imagine That," opposite Eddie Murphy. She quickly took to the role of the creative and happy-go-lucky daughter to Murphy, bolstering her love of acting.

Shahidi went on to appear in television series such as ABC’s "In the Motherhood" with Cheryl Hines and Megan Mullally, CBS’ Cold Case, Disney’s "Wizards of Waverly Place," FOX’s "Lie to Me," and FOX’s "The Finder," to name a few. She got her first major role as Chloe Jonson on the sitcom "The First Family." Shahidi also maintains recurring roles on the hit ABC series "Scandal" as the young Olivia Pope and as Maddie on ABC Family’s "The Fosters."

Shahidi’s film roles include Sony Pictures’  "Unthinkable," as the daughter of Samuel L. Jackson, Columbia Pictures’ "Salt" opposite Angelina Jolie, Summit Entertainment’s "Alex Cross" as the daughter of Tyler Perry, and the film "Butter" opposite Jennifer Garner.

In 2016, Shahidi signed to model with New York's Women Management modeling agency in hopes of providing a platform to see more women of color in diverse roles.

Aside from her acting and modeling career, Shahidi is equally committed to education and scholarship. She recently launched Yara’s Club, a bi-monthly digital meet up for Shahidi and students to discuss societal issues, self-improvement, and higher education, in partnership with The Young Women’s Leadership Schools (TYWLS) in New York. She also created Eighteen x '18, an initiative to get young people to vote in the 2018 midterm elections. Furthermore, Shahidi served as the spokesperson for DoSomething.Org and 3M’s Science Sleuth campaign, which raises funds for classrooms in need of science and technology resources in Minnesota and St. Louis. The young star has been spotlighted in The New York Times, Variety’s Youth Impact, and Next Big Thing issues, and was named #3 under Celebs to Watch for DoSomething.Org’s 2016 Celebs Gone Good list.

In June 2017, Shahidi announced that she would be attending Harvard University and plans to pursue a degree in Social Studies. In the summer of 2014, Shahidi studied abroad at Oxford University in England, where she enrolled and excelled in humanity courses. A lover of Greek Mythology, history, and public service, Shahidi maintains her studies while filming 35+ hours a week on set and spends her free time reading classic novels, rock climbing, and traveling with her parents and two younger brothers Sayeed and Ehsan.

“Yara was absolutely incredible! Our board and the audience were extremely impressed with how poised, articulate, and confident she was, especially for someone of her age. Her remarks also aligned perfectly with the conference's theme and purpose. Overall, we were extremely grateful and pleased that she was the keynote speaker for the conference.”

Georgetown University

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