Yara Shahidi is an actress, model, activist and breakout star of ABC's Emmy®- and Golden Globe®- nominated comedy series "black-ish" and the Freeform spinoff "grown-ish." She stars as Zoey Johnson, an ambitious, technologically infatuated student in her second year at CalU. Learning from the ups and downs of their first year, Zoey and her crew all assume they've got their second year on lock, but quickly realize that they're not as grown as they think.
Since "black-ish" launched in 2014, Shahidi has been awarded an 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 Weinstein Company film "Butter," where she starred opposite Jennifer Garner. Shahidi's new film from Warner Brothers, "The Sun is Also a Star," will be released in May 2019 and explores a love story alongside one of the most pressing issues of the century, immigration.
Offscreen, Shahidi continues to use her platform to inspire others. Engaged in politics, she launched Eighteen X 18 last year to educate and motivate first-time voters to turn out for the 2018 midterm elections. She also created Shahidi's Club in partnership with The Young Women's Leadership Schools in NYC—a digital meetup for high school students to discuss societal issues, self-improvement and higher education. She served as a spokesperson for DoSomething.Org and 3M's STEM campaign, which raised funds for classrooms in need of science and tech resources and worked with the Obama White House around STEM initiatives.
Shahidi is an advocate for women's issues, including diversity in media and girls' education. She has worked with the United Nations' Girl Up initiative and was highlighted in the New York Times "Next Big Thing" and Variety's "Youth Impact" issues. The young star was also profiled in The Hollywood Reporter's Young Hollywood issue, in which she has been identified as the new Hollywood guard. She was awarded the Daily Point of Light Award from the Points of Light organization, was honored at Essence Magazine's 10th annual Black Women in Hollywood Awards and received the BET's Young Star Award in 2017 in 2018.
Shahidi graduated with honors from The Dwight School in New York and currently attends Harvard University where she studies sociology and African-American studies. A lover of Greek mythology, history and public service, she spends her free time reading classic novels, rock climbing and traveling with her family.