Born in Minnesota to an African-American mother and Iranian father, 20-year-old actress, producer and activist Yara became a household name at just 14, after landing the role of Zoey Johnson on Black-ish – a show that’s celebrated for addressing race, culture and socio-economic issues.
“So many families don’t have the privilege of turning these subjects on and off. Even with my own family, when an episode ends I don’t have the privilege of saying ‘well that conversation is over with’ because these are things that affect us 24/7. So to be able to air an episode that dives into these issues, of what it’s like to grow up as a black family, is important for our very large audience to see," shares Yara Shahidi, the cover star of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia’s ‘The Dreamers’ issue.
While Yara’s multicultural background is extremely important to her, she also tries to understand communities beyond her own. Throughout her interview with Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, she notes that often people in the US can make sweeping generalisations about Middle Eastern countries, instead of seeing the communities within them as multifarious, and the people as individuals.
“Having a family that’s Iranian, I’ve always had a global sense of community and culture. It goes back to why I’m a total history nerd. I think [we should] continue to create a more realistic version of history that doesn’t push forward this [idea] that Europe was the centre of the world," says Yara.
The actress notes this ability to truly hear people is a skill that comes from her mother: “When I think of the impact she has made on many people in our lives, whether they are just passing through or people we’ve had lifelong friendships with, it comes down to her being present enough to be able to service them to the best of their ability."
Click here to read the full interview.