At a Glance

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

 

Biography

Yara Shahidi is an actress, producer, change agent and breakout star of ABC’s Emmy- and Golden Globe- nominated comedy ABC series “black-ish,” and its spinoff “Grown-ish,” on Freeform.

Currently in season 3, Shahidi stars as Zoey Johnson, an ambitious, fashion forward college student figuring out adulthood. It is a drastic change from her comfortable and posh upbringing in suburbia, as the daughter of a doctor and advertising executive. The series tackles important issues facing both students and administrators in the world of higher education.

Since “black-ish” launched in 2014, Shahidi has been awarded a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress, a Gracie Award for Female in a Breakthrough Role and, most recently, highlighted on TIME Magazine’s annual 30 Most Influential Teens list as well as Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2017 and 2018 respectively on behalf of her television contributions and humanitarianism. Shahidi is definitely one of Hollywood’s most heralded young talents as she continues to use her platform to empower and inspire others.

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Shahidi actually 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’s extensive 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 where she starred opposite Jennifer Garner. Shahidi’s most recent film from Warner Bros. THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR released Spring 2019 explored a love story alongside one of the most pressing issues of the century, immigration and inclusion. Written by Nicola Yoon and directed by Ry Russo, the film was also a love letter to New York City celebrating love for interconnectedness as well as humanity.

Off-screen, Shahidi continues to use her platform to inspire others to be engaged in the political process. In 2016, the young star launched Eighteen by 18 to educate and motivate first time voters to turn out for the 2018 mid-term elections. She also created Yara’s Club in partnership with The Young Women’s Leadership Schools in NYC – a digital meet-up for high school students to discuss societal issues, self-improvement and higher education. She continues to champion STEM programs and resources for young students across the country and used her platform to advocate for funding for classrooms in need of science and tech resources. Shahidi also collaborated with the Obama administration on several White House STEM initiatives.

Yara is an advocate for women’s issues, including diversity in media and girls’ education, and has worked with the United Nations Girl Up initiative and spotlighted in the New York Times Variety’s Youth Impact and Next Big Thing issues. The young business-woman was profiled in The Hollywood Reporter’s Young Hollywood issue which identified her as leader of the New Hollywood guard.

Shahidi is a recipient of the esteemed Daily Point of Light Award from the Points of Light organization and was honored at Essence Magazine’s 10th Black Women in Hollywood Awards and received the BET’s Young Star Award in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Last fall, Shahidi formed 7th Sun Productions in partnership with Keri and Afshin Shahidi.

Reviews

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

Yara was beyond unbelievable, so talented and did an outstanding job. It went GREAT! Yara was a joy to work with!

Massachusetts Conference for Women

It was amazing! Yara is just magical.

Syracuse University

It went GREAT! Yara was a joy to work with!

Universiyt of Illinois

Yara was fantastic. Everyone said that it is the best celebration we have had and that Yara speaks powerfully and meaningfully. So glad she was able to join!

Minnesota Department of Human Rights
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