Yara Shahidi

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Yara Shahidi
Yara Shahidi in 2018.png
Shahidi in 2018
Yara Sayeh Shahidi

(2000-02-10) February 10, 2000 (age 19)
Education Harvard University
OccupationActor, model, activist, student
Years active2007–present
Website yarashahidi.com

Yara Sayeh Shahidi (Persian : یارا سایه شاهیدی; Persian pronunciation:  [jɒːɾɒː sɒːje ʃæhiːdiː] ; born February 10, 2000) [1] is an American actor, model and activist. She gained recognition for her starring role as the oldest daughter 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), Smallfoot (2018), and the lead role in The Sun Is Also a Star (2019).

Persian language Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi, is a Western Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is a pluricentric language 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.

A sitcom, clipping for situational comedy, is a genre of comedy centred 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.

Black-ish is an American sitcom television series created by Kenya Barris. It premiered on September 24, 2014, and has run for five seasons on ABC.


Early life

Yara Sayeh Shahidi was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the daughter of Keri Salter Shahidi and Afshin Shahidi, [3] [4] a photographer. [2] [5] Her father is Iranian American. Her mother is African American, of Yoruba and Fulbe descent, and also has Choctaw heritage. [6] [7] [8] The family moved to California for Afshin's work when Yara was 4 years old. 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 once-removed cousin. [9]

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 2018, Minneapolis is the largest city in the state of Minnesota and 46th-largest in the United States, with an estimated population of 425,403. The Twin Cities metropolitan area consists of Minneapolis, its neighbor Saint Paul, and suburbs which altogether contain about 3.63 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, Great Lakes, 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.


Shahidi in 2017 Yara Shahidi Entertainment Weekly 2017.png
Shahidi in 2017

She began her career when she was 6 years old, [10] 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 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. [11] 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 and actor

Edward Regan Murphy is an American actor, comedian, and singer. 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 Five" 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. [12] In December 2014 she won an NAACP Image Award in the category of 'Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy'. [13]

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. [12]

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. [14]

She was ranked one of the best dressed women in 2018 by fashion website Net-a-Porter. [15]


Shahidi founded Eighteen x 18 with social news publisher NowThis, [16] which "will be a platform to encourage [her] 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. [17] [18]

Shahidi's activism was noticed by former first lady Michelle Obama, who wrote her a letter of recommendation to Harvard University. [19] She was also given the opportunity by Teen Vogue to interview Hillary Clinton in 2017. [20] [21]

Shahidi has publicly supported Jussie Smollett after reports that Smollett faked a hate crime for personal and monetary gain. [22] In April, 2019, at the NAACP Image Awards, Shahidi stated, "I stand with Jussie" after Chris Rock made jokes at Smollett's expense. [23]



2009 Imagine That Olivia Danielson
2010 Salt Salt's Young Neighbor
Unthinkable Katie
2011 Butter Destiny
2012 Alex Cross Janelle Cross
2018 Smallfoot BrendaVoice
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)
2016–2018 Trollhunters Darcy (voice)10 episodes
2018–present Grown-ish Zoey JohnsonLead role; 15 episodes
2019–present 3Below: Tales of Arcadia Darcy (voice)3 episodes

See also

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  11. "Nominations and Special Awards". 31st Annual Young Artist Awards. Retrieved 2016-07-16.
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  13. "Blackish Nominated for Six NAACP Image Awards". Blackish Fans. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
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  18. Berg, Madeline. "Meet Yara Shahidi: The 17-Year-Old Actress And Activist". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  19. Rogo, Paula (2017-03-11). "Star Pupil: Michelle Obama Wrote Yara Shahidi ACollege Recommendation!". Essence.com. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  20. "Yara Shahidi Just Asked Hillary Clinton About That Very Uncomfortable Trump Debate". Harper's BAZAAR. 2017-12-03. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  21. Smith, Krista. "Yara Shahidi on Being a Role Model, Attending Harvard, and Continuing Her Activism". Vanities. Retrieved 2018-04-02.
  22. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/20/arts/television/jussie-smollett-attack-suspect.html
  23. https://www.essence.com/celebrity/i-stand-with-jussie-celebrities-who-are-still-rooting-for-jussie-smollett/