Yara Shahidi

Last updated
Yara Shahidi
BornYara Sayeh Shahidi
(2000-02-10) February 10, 2000 (age 19)
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
Education Harvard University
  • actress
  • model
  • activist
  • student
Years active2007–present
Sayeed Shahidi (brother)

Ehsan Shahidi (brother)

Nas (cousin)

Website yarashahidi.com

Yara Sayeh Shahidi (Persian : یارا سایه شهیدی; Persian pronunciation:  [jɒːɾɒː sɒːje ʃæhiːdiː] ;born February 10, 2000) [1] is an American actress, model and activist. She gained recognition for her starring role as Zoey Johnson on the sitcom Black-ish (2014–present) and its spin-off series Grown-ish (2018–present). [2] Her film credits include Imagine That (2009) and Smallfoot (2018). A student at Harvard University, Shahidi has been noted for her activism advocating for female and racial equality and political awareness.

Persian language Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi, is one of the Western Iranian languages within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and some other regions which historically were Persianate societies and considered part of Greater Iran. It is written right to left in the Persian alphabet, a modified variant of the Arabic script, which itself evolved from the Aramaic alphabet.

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

A sitcom, short for "situation comedy", is a genre of comedy centered on a fixed set of characters who carry over from episode to episode. Sitcoms can be contrasted with sketch comedy, where a troupe may use new characters in each sketch, and stand-up comedy, where a comedian tells jokes and stories to an audience. Sitcoms originated in radio, but today are found mostly on television as one of its dominant narrative forms. This form can also include mockumentaries.


Early life

Yara Shahidi was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to an Iranian American father, Afshin Shahidi, [3] [4] a photographer, [2] [5] and to mother Keri Salter Shahidi, who is African American and Choctaw heritage [6] [7] The family moved to California for Afshin's work when Yara was 4. She is the older sister of child actor and model Sayeed Shahidi and they have a younger brother, Ehsan. [3] Keri Shahidi states the name Yara means "Someone who is close to your heart", the name Sayeed means "Blessing", and Ehsan means "To act as though God is watching". [3] The rapper Nas is their cousin. [8]

Minneapolis Largest city in Minnesota

Minneapolis is the county seat of Hennepin County and the larger of the Twin Cities, the 16th-largest metropolitan area in the United States. As of 2017, Minneapolis is the largest city in the state of Minnesota and 45th-largest in the United States, with an estimated population of 422,331. The Twin Cities metropolitan area consists of Minneapolis, its neighbor Saint Paul, and suburbs which altogether contain about 3.6 million people, and is the third-largest economic center in the Midwest.

Minnesota State of the United States of America

Minnesota is a state in the Upper Midwest and northern regions of the United States. Minnesota was admitted as the 32nd U.S. state on May 11, 1858, created from the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory. The state has a large number of lakes, and is known by the slogan the "Land of 10,000 Lakes". Its official motto is L'Étoile du Nord.

Iranian Americans or Persian Americans are U.S. citizens who are of Iranian ancestry or who hold Iranian citizenship. Iranian Americans are among the most highly educated people in the United States. They have historically excelled in business, academia, science, the arts, and entertainment, but have traditionally shied away from participating in U.S. politics and other civic activities.


She began her career when she was 6 years old, [9] appearing in television and print advertisements for companies such as McDonald's, Ralph Lauren, Target, GapKids, Disney, Guess Kids and The Children's Place. She frequently worked with her mother and younger brother in various print and broadcast campaigns.

McDonalds American fast food restaurant chain

McDonald's is an American fast food company, founded in 1940 as a restaurant operated by Richard and Maurice McDonald, in San Bernardino, California, United States. They rechristened their business as a hamburger stand, and later turned the company into a franchise, with the Golden Arches logo being introduced in 1953 at a location in Phoenix, Arizona. In 1955, Ray Kroc, a businessman, joined the company as a franchise agent and proceeded to purchase the chain from the McDonald brothers. McDonald's had its original headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, but moved its global headquarters to Chicago in early 2018.

Ralph Lauren American fashion designer and business executive

Ralph Lauren, KBE is an American fashion designer, philanthropist, and business executive, best known for the Ralph Lauren Corporation, a global multibillion-dollar enterprise. He has also become well known for his collection of rare automobiles, some of which have been displayed in museum exhibits. Lauren stepped down as CEO of the company in September 2015 but remains executive chairman and chief creative officer. As of 2018, Forbes estimates his wealth at $7.2 billion, which makes Ralph Lauren the 91st richest person in America.

Target Corporation Retail chain in the United States

Target Corporation is the eighth-largest department store retailer in the United States, and is a component of the S&P 500 Index. Founded by George Dayton and headquartered in Minneapolis, the company was originally named Goodfellow Dry Goods in June 1902 before being renamed the Dayton's Dry Goods Company in 1903 and later the Dayton Company in 1910. The first Target store opened in Roseville, Minnesota in 1962 while the parent company was renamed the Dayton Corporation in 1967. It became the Dayton-Hudson Corporation after merging with the J.L. Hudson Company in 1969 and held ownership of several department store chains including Dayton's, Hudson's, Marshall Field's, and Mervyn's.

Shahidi made her cinematic debut in 2009, starring opposite Eddie Murphy in Paramount Pictures' Imagine That, [2] for which she received a Young Artist Award nomination for the best performance in a feature film category. [10] She also appeared in the Angelina Jolie action film Salt in 2010 as a next door neighbor. In 2012, she played Chloe Johnson, the daughter of President William Johnson, in the TV series The First Family .

Eddie Murphy American stand-up comedian, actor, and singer

Edward Regan Murphy is an American comedian, actor, screen writer, singer, and film producer. Murphy was a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1980 to 1984. He has worked as a stand-up comedian and was ranked #10 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time.

Paramount Pictures Major film studio in America, specializing in film and television production, and distribution.

Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American film studio based in Hollywood, California, that has been a subsidiary of the American media conglomerate Viacom since 1994. Paramount is the fifth oldest surviving film studio in the world, the second oldest in the United States, and the sole member of the "Big Six" film studios still located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Hollywood.

<i>Imagine That</i> (film) 2009 film by Karey Kirkpatrick

Imagine That is a 2009 comedy film starring Eddie Murphy directed by Karey Kirkpatrick and written by Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson. It centers on the relationship between a workaholic father (Murphy) and his daughter, Olivia, whose imaginary world becomes the solution to her father's success.

In September 2014, Shahidi starred in ABC's prime-time comedy Black-ish as 14-year-old Zoey Johnson. [11] In December 2014 she won an NAACP Image Award in the category of 'Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy'. [12]

Black-ish is an American sitcom television series starring Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross, broadcast on ABC. The single-camera comedy centers on an upper-middle-class African-American family. The series premiered on September 24, 2014 and in April 2017 was renewed for a fourth season, which premiered on October 3, 2017. Since the second-season premiere, the show has received critical acclaim, receiving many awards and nominations including a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for Tracee Ellis Ross, Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series, and a TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Comedy.

In 2016, she 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. [11]

Women of color is a phrase used to describe female persons of color. The political term "women of color" surfaced in the violence against women movement. In the late seventies it unified all women experiencing multiple layers of marginalization with race or ethnicity as a common issue.

ABC announced in 2017 that Shahidi would be headlining a Black-ish spinoff, titled Grown-ish , on its sister network Freeform. The series premiered on January 3, 2018. [13]

She was ranked one of the best dressed women in 2018 by fashion website Net-a-Porter. [14]


Shahidi is an actor and activist. She founded Eighteen x 18 with social news publisher NowThis, [15] “which will be a platform to encourage my peers to vote for the very first time in our upcoming midterm elections”. Her other organizations include Yara’s Club a partnership with Young Women's Leadership Network (YWLN) of New York, which provides online mentorship in hopes to end poverty through education. [16] [17]

Shahidi’s activism has led her to many accomplishments. She had been noticed by former first lady Michelle Obama, who wrote her a letter of recommendation to Harvard University. [18] She was also given the opportunity by Teen Vogue to interview Hillary Clinton in 2017. [19] [20]



2009 Imagine That Olivia Danielson
2010 Salt Salt's Young Neighbor
Unthinkable Katie
2011 Butter Destiny
2012 Alex Cross Janelle Cross
2018 Smallfoot Brenda (voice)
2019 The Sun Is Also a Star Natasha Kingsley


2007 Entourage Kandace WestEpisode: "No Cannes Do"
2009 In the Motherhood Esther5 episodes
Cold Case Meesha Sullivan '91Episode: "Read Between the Lines"
Wizards of Waverly Place OliveEpisode: "Doll House"
2010 Lie to Me OliviaEpisode: "Teacher and Pupils"
$h*! My Dad Says Girl ScoutEpisode: "Pilot"
2011 The Cape LaylaEpisode: "Endgame"
Family Guy Little Girl (voice)Episode: "Episode VI: It's a Trap"
Rip City MontanaTelevision movie
2012 The Finder AdinaEpisode: "The Conversation"
2012–2013 The First Family Chloe Johnson23 episodes
2013 Scandal Young Olivia Pope 2 episodes
2014 Bad Teacher JalissaEpisode: "Pilot"
The Fosters Maddie2 episodes
2014–present Black-ish Zoey JohnsonMain role (seasons 1–3), Recurring role (season 4–present); 79 episodes
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (2015)
BET Award for YoungStar (2017)
Nominated – BET Award for YoungStar (2016)
Nominated – Teen Choice Award for Choice Comedy TV Actress (2017)
2016–2017 Trollhunters Darcy (voice)10 episodes
2018–present Grown-ish Zoey JohnsonLead role; 15 episodes

See also

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  1. "Yara Shahidi". TVGuide.com. Archived from the original on October 2, 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 "All about Yara". June 1, 2009. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
  3. 1 2 3 "C.J.: Mother of Minneapolis-born "Black-ish" star is having a good day when there's no eye twitch". Star Tribune . Minneapolis, Minnesota. Archived from the original on August 9, 2016. Retrieved 2016-07-15.
  4. "Yara Shahidi, [Prominent Iranian-Americans]". Virtual embassy of the United States, Tehran.Iran (in Persian). U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on 2016-10-05. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  5. Brother Troy R. Gibson II "Yara Shahidi: A Star On The Rise". Drfunkenberry.com. October 22, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2012.
  6. Shams, Alex (2016-06-03). "Yara Shahidi, the Iranian-American Star of 'Black-ish,' Is Breaking Stereotypes On & Off Screen". Muftah.org. Archived from the original on June 7, 2017. Retrieved 2016-12-13. Zoey, the Johnson’s eldest daughter, is played by a sixteen-year-old, Iranian American actress. Born to Iranian father, Afshin Shahidi and mother of mixed African American and Native Choctaw heritage, Keri Salter, Yara Shahidi lived in Minneapolis before moving to California at a young age.
  7. Stern, Claire (2015-04-23). "7 Things You May Not Know About Black-ish Star Yara Shahidi". InDesign Magazine. Time Inc. Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  8. Shahidi on the Fuse TV series White Guy Talk Show , transcribed by "Yara Shahidi Gives the Inside Story on Her Life as Nas' Cousin". BCKOnline.com (Black Celebrity Kids, Inc.). April 10, 2015. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
  9. "Yara Shahidi". Young Black Stars. Retrieved 2016-07-16.
  10. "Nominations and Special Awards". 31st Annual Young Artist Awards. Retrieved 2016-07-16.
  11. 1 2 Okwodu, Janelle (2016-04-19). "Black-ish's Yara Shahidi Is a Model With a Cause". Vogue Magazine. Retrieved 2016-07-16.
  12. "Blackish Nominated for Six NAACP Image Awards". Blackish Fans. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  13. Wagmeister, Elizabeth (May 19, 2017). "'Black-ish' Spinoff Starring Yara Shahidi Greenlit at Freeform". Variety .
  14. "Best Dressed 2018". Net a Porter.
  15. Spangler, Todd (2018-04-18). "'Black-ish' Star Yara Shahidi Kicks Off Political-Engagement Campaign With NowThis". Variety. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  16. Seligson, Hannah (2015-11-27). "'Black-ish' Star Yara Shahidi Is a Role Model Off-Screen". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  17. Berg, Madeline. "Meet Yara Shahidi: The 17-Year-Old Actress And Activist". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  18. Rogo, Paula (2017-03-11). "Star Pupil: Michelle Obama Wrote Yara Shahidi ACollege Recommendation!". Essence.com. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  19. "Yara Shahidi Just Asked Hillary Clinton About That Very Uncomfortable Trump Debate". Harper's BAZAAR. 2017-12-03. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  20. Smith, Krista. "Yara Shahidi on Being a Role Model, Attending Harvard, and Continuing Her Activism". Vanities. Retrieved 2018-04-02.