Yara Shahidi

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Yara Shahidi
Shahidi in a 2018 interview
Yara Sayeh Shahidi

(2000-02-10) February 10, 2000 (age 23)
EducationHarvard University (BA) [1]
Years active2006–present

Yara Sayeh Shahidi (born February 10, 2000)[2] is an American actress and producer. She began her career as a child, appearing in the films Imagine That (2009), Butter (2011) and Alex Cross (2012)

Shahidi gained recognition for her starring role as the oldest daughter Zoey Johnson in the ABC sitcom Black-ish (2014–2022) and its spin-off series Grown-ish (2018–present).[3] She received NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Black-ish and three NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series nominations for Grown-ish. Time included her on "The 30 Most Influential Teens of 2016" list.[4] She done voice over work in the films Smallfoot (2018), Fearless (2020), PAW Patrol: The Movie (2021) and My Father's Dragon (2022)

Shahidi played her first adult lead role in the 2019 drama film, The Sun Is Also a Star. In 2023, she played Tinker Bell in the fantasy adventure film Peter Pan & Wendy, and executive produced and starred in the romantic comedy-drama film, Sitting in Bars with Cake .

Early life and education[edit]

Yara Sayeh Shahidi was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Keri Salter Shahidi and Afshin Shahidi,[5][6] a photographer.[3][7] Her mother, Keri Shahidi (born Keri Jamelda Salter), is of African American and Choctaw heritage, and her father Afshin Shahidi is Iranian. Afshin was one of the principal photographers for musician Prince, who kept a signed photo of Yara in his editing suite at Paisley Park.[8][9][10] The Shahidi 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.[5] The rapper Nas is her cousin.[11] Yara means "Someone who is close to your heart" in Persian;[5] Shahidi is a common surname in Iran, of Muslim origin, and means "witness" in Persian.

Shahidi graduated in 2017 from Dwight Global Online School.[12][13][14] In 2017, Shahidi was admitted to Harvard University, and she began her studies there in 2018 after taking a gap year,[15] with a plan to major in Interdisciplinary Sociology and Black American Studies.[12][16] Shahidi graduated from Harvard in 2022.[15]

Shahidi at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival


Early works[edit]

Shahidi began her career when she was 6 years old,[17] appearing in television commercials 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. Her first on-screen appearance was in au episode of HBO comedy series, Entourage in 2007. In 2009, she had a recurring role as Jessica St. Clair' character daughter in the chort-lived ABC comedy series, In the Motherhood. Later that year, she guest-starred on Cold Case and Wizards of Waverly Place.

Shahidi made her big screen debut in 2009, starring opposite Eddie Murphy in Paramount Pictures comedy film Imagine That,[3] for which she received a Young Artist Award nomination for Best Leading Young Actress in a Feature Film.[18] She also appeared in the action film Salt in 2010 as a next door neighbor to Angelina Jolie' character. The following year, she starred in the comedy film Butter that premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and garnered mixed reviews from critics. In 2012, she appeared in the action thriller film Alex Cross opposite Tyler Perry. From 2012 to 2013, Shahidi was regular cast member in the syndicated sitcom The First Family playing the role of Chloe Johnson, the daughter of President William Johnson. In 2013, she played young Olivia Pope in the two episodes of ABC political thriller series, Scandal.[19]


In 2014, Shahidi was cast as a 14-year-old Zoey Johnson, the eldest daughter of Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross' characters in the ABC comedy series Black-ish created by Kenya Barris.[20] She won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for the show' first season.[21] She also received Gracie Award for Outstanding Female Actor in a Breakthrough Role in 2016[22] and BET YoungStars Award at the 17th BET Awards.[23] She left the series after three seasons but appeared as a recurring guest-star in latter seasons. 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 with the positive reviews from critics.[24] For her performance, Shahidi received three NAACP Image Awards nominations for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series.[25][26] She left the series after five seasons, but stayed as a executive producer and recurring guest-star for its sixth and final season in 2023.[27]

In 2016, Shahidi 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.[20] Time included her on "The 30 Most Influential Teens of 2016" list.[4] She was ranked one of the best dressed women in 2018 by fashion website Net-a-Porter.[28] She was one of fifteen women selected to appear on the cover of the September 2019 issue of British Vogue, by guest editor Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.[29] In 2021, Shahidi debuted a sportswear collaboration with Adidas.[30][31]

In 2019, Shahidi played the leading role in the teen drama film, The Sun Is Also a Star based on the young adult novel of the same name by Nicola Yoon. It was theatrically released in the United States on May 17, 2019, by Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures. The film received mixed reviews from critics and grossed $6.8 million worldwide.[32] She co-produced Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film-winning film Hair Love (2019). She done voice over work in the films Smallfoot (2018), Fearless (2020), PAW Patrol: The Movie (2021) and My Father's Dragon (2022).

Shahidi for Vogue in 2019

In 2020, Shahidi and her mother launched their production company 7th Sun and signed a deal with ABC Studios to produce shows.[33] Their first project was Smoakland, a single-camera comedy pilot for Freeform in 2021.[34] Later in 2021, it was announced that they develop adaptation of Cole Brown's book Greyboy: Finding Blackness in a White World.[35]


Shahidi starred in the Apple TV+ anthology series Extrapolations that premiered on March 17, 2023.[36] She played Tinker Bell in the fantasy adventure film Peter Pan & Wendy, a remake of Peter Pan.[37] It premiered on Disney+ on April 28, 2023. Later in 2023, Shahidi executive produced and played the leading role in the romantic comedy-drama film Sitting in Bars with Cake.[38] The film was released on September 8, 2023 by Amazon Prime Video and received generally positive reviews from critics.[39]

Shahidi set to star alongside Lena Headey in the action thriller film Ballerina Overdrive.[40]


Shahidi founded Eighteen x 18 with social news publisher NowThis,[41] 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.[42][43]

Shahidi's activism was noticed by former first lady Michelle Obama, who wrote her a letter of recommendation to Harvard University.[44][45] She was also given the opportunity by Teen Vogue to interview Hillary Clinton in 2017.[46][47]

In 2021, Yara Shahidi joined the Dior Stand with Women campaign.[48]



Year Title Role Notes
2009 Imagine That Olivia Danielson Nominated — Young Artist Award for Best Leading Young Actress in a Feature Film
2010 Salt Salt's Young Neighbor
Unthinkable Katie
2011 Butter Destiny
2012 Alex Cross Janelle Cross
2018 Smallfoot Brenda Voice
2019 Detective Pikachu Girlfriend
The Sun Is Also a Star Natasha Kingsley Nominated - Teen Choice Award for Choice Summer Movie Actress (2019)[49]
Hair Love Co-executive producer
2020 Fearless Melanie Voice
2021 PAW Patrol: The Movie Kendra Wilson Voice
2022 My Father's Dragon Callie Voice
2023 Peter Pan & Wendy Tinker Bell
2023 Sitting in Bars with Cake Jane Executive producer


Year Title Role Notes
2007 Entourage Kandace West Episode: "No Cannes Do"
2009 In the Motherhood Esther 5 episodes
Cold Case Meesha Sullivan '91 Episode: "Read Between the Lines"
Wizards of Waverly Place Olive Episode: "Doll House"
2010 Lie to Me Olivia Episode: "Teacher and Pupils"
$♯*! My Dad Says Girl Scout Episode: "Pilot"
2011 The Cape Layla Episode: "Endgame"
Family Guy Little Girl Voice, episode: "It's a Trap!"
Rip City Montana Television film
2012 The Finder Adina Episode: "The Conversation"
2012–2013 The First Family Chloe Johnson 23 episodes
2013 Scandal Young Olivia Pope 2 episodes
2014 Bad Teacher Jalissa Episode: "Pilot"
The Fosters Maddie 2 episodes
2014–2022 Black-ish Zoey Johnson Main role (seasons 1–3), Recurring role (seasons 4–8); 79 episodes
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (2015)
BET Award for YoungStar (2017-2018)
Gracie Award for Outstanding Female Actor in a Breakthrough Role (2016)
Nominated – Black Reel Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress, Comedy Series (2017)
Nominated – BET Award for YoungStar (2016)
Nominated – Teen Choice Award for Choice Comedy TV Actress (2017, 2019)[49]
Nominated – Young Artist Award for Outstanding Young Ensemble Cast in a Television Series (2016)
Nominated – Teen Choice Award for Choice TV: Breakout Star (2015)
Nominated – MTV Movie & TV Awards - Next Generation
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2017-2018)
2016–2018 Trollhunters Darci Scott Voice, 10 episodes
2018–present Grown-ish Zoey Johnson Lead role, also producer
Nominated – NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series (2019-21)
Nominated – Black Reel Award for Outstanding Actress, Comedy Series (2018, 2021)
Nominated – People's Choice Award for Favorite Comedy TV Star (2019-2020)
Nominated – People's Choice Award for Favorite Female TV Star (2021)
Nominated – People's Choice Award for The Comedy TV Star of 2021 (2021)
Nominated – Teen Choice Award for Choice Comedy TV Actress (2018)
Nominated - Teen Choice Award for Choice Summer TV Star: Female (2019)[49]
2018–2019 3Below Darci Scott Voice, 8 episodes
2023 Extrapolations Carmen Jalilo Episode: "2037: A Raven Story"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Yara Shahidi is officially a Harvard graduate". NBC News.
  2. ^ "Yara Shahidi Actor". TVGuide.com. Archived from the original on October 2, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "All about Yara". June 1, 2009. Archived from the original on March 4, 2012. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
  4. ^ a b "The 30 Most Influential Teens of 2016". Time. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c J., C. (January 24, 2015). "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.
  6. ^ "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 October 5, 2016. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  7. ^ Brother Troy R. Gibson II "Yara Shahidi: A Star On The Rise". Drfunkenberry.com. October 22, 2010.
  8. ^ Shams, Alex (June 3, 2016). "Yara Shahidi, the Iranian-American Star of 'Black-ish,' Is Breaking Stereotypes On & Off Screen". Muftah.org. Archived from the original on June 7, 2016. Zoey, the Johnson's eldest daughter, is played by a sixteen-year-old, Iranian-American actress. Born to an Iranian father, Afshin Shahidi, and a mother of mixed black and Native Choctaw heritage, Keri Salter, Yara Shahidi lived in Minneapolis before moving to California at a young age.
  9. ^ Stern, Claire (April 23, 2015). "7 Things You May Not Know About Black-ish Star Yara Shahidi". InStyle.
  10. ^ Guglielmo, Connie (August 21, 2018). "Why Yara Shahidi thinks the internet can still help make the world a better place". CNET. Retrieved September 14, 2020. Shahidi, the child of a mom who's African-American and Choctaw and an Iranian-American dad.
  11. ^ 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. April 10, 2015 – via BCKOnline.com (Black Celebrity Kids, Inc.).
  12. ^ a b Weaver, Hilary (June 7, 2017). "Yara Shahidi Will Join Malia Obama at Harvard in 2018". Vanity Fair. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  13. ^ Weiss, Suzannah (2017). "Here's Why Yara Shahidi WON'T Be Going to Harvard in the Fall". Teen Vogue. Retrieved September 14, 2020. Yara, who just finished high school through the New York City Dwight School's online program,
  14. ^ "Yara Shahidi Reflects on Time Passing the Week After Prom and Before High School Graduation". W Magazine | Women's Fashion & Celebrity News. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  15. ^ a b "Yara Shahidi is officially a Harvard graduate". NBC News. May 27, 2022. Retrieved July 14, 2023.
  16. ^ Peoples, Landon (February 7, 2019). "From Couture To Harvard To Activism, Yara Shahidi "Undefines" Success". Refinery29.com. Retrieved September 14, 2020. ...in real life, at Harvard, where she's set to double major in Interdisciplinary Sociology and Black American Studies which she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 2022...
  17. ^ "Yara Shahidi". Young Black Stars. Archived from the original on April 5, 2016. Retrieved July 16, 2016 – via www.youngblackstars.com.
  18. ^ "Nominations and Special Awards". 31st Annual Young Artist Awards. Retrieved July 16, 2016.
  19. ^ "YBF FRESH FACE: Meet 13-Year-Old". theybf.com.
  20. ^ a b Okwodu, Janelle (April 19, 2016). "Black-ish's Yara Shahidi Is a Model With a Cause". Vogue.
  21. ^ "Blackish Nominated for Six NAACP Image Awards". Blackish Fans. December 10, 2014. Archived from the original on December 23, 2014.
  22. ^ "Yara Shahidi as | {showname} Cast". Freeform.
  23. ^ https://www.bet.com/bet-awards/nominees
  24. ^ Wagmeister, Elizabeth (May 19, 2017). "'Black-ish' Spinoff Starring Yara Shahidi Greenlit at Freeform". Variety.
  25. ^ Howard, Katherine Schaffstall,Annie; Schaffstall, Katherine; Howard, Annie (February 22, 2020). "NAACP Image Awards: Lizzo Named Entertainer of the Year; 'Just Mercy,' 'Black-ish' Among Top Winners".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  26. ^ Bosselman, Haley (March 28, 2021). "NAACP Image Awards 2021: The Complete Televised Winners List".
  27. ^ Campione, Katie (April 17, 2023). "Freeform Sets Premiere Dates For 'Grown-ish' Final Season & 'Cruel Summer' Season 2".
  28. ^ "Best Dressed 2018". Net a Porter.
  29. ^ "Meghan Markle puts Sinéad Burke on the cover of Vogue's September issue". The Irish Times. July 29, 2019.
  30. ^ "The Personal, Powerful Story Behind Yara Shahidi's Latest Adidas Collection". June 24, 2021.
  31. ^ "Recreating Once Again with Part Two of Our Collaborative Collection with Yara Shahidi". June 16, 2021.
  32. ^ https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_sun_is_also_a_star
  33. ^ Petski, Denise (July 20, 2020). "'Grown-ish' Star Yara Shahidi Inks Overall Deal With ABC Studios, Launches Production Company". Deadline. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  34. ^ Petski, Denise (January 12, 2021). "'Smoakland' Comedy Produced By Yara Shahidi & Keri Shahidi's 7th Sun In Works At Freeform".
  35. ^ Petski, Denise (April 15, 2021). "Yara & Keri Shahidi Developing TV Series Based On Cole Brown's Book 'Greyboy: Finding Blackness In A White World' For ABC Signature".
  36. ^ Otterson, Joe (January 28, 2022). "Murray Bartlett, Diane Lane, Yara Shahidi Among Eight Cast in Extrapolations at Apple (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved January 28, 2022.
  37. ^ Nate (September 28, 2020). "Yara Shahidi Cast as Tinkerbell in New Live-action 'Peter Pan' Movie". Disney News. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  38. ^ Grobar, Matt (February 9, 2022). "'Sitting In Bars With Cake': Yara Shahidi To Exec Produce & Star In Amazon Studios Rom-Com".
  39. ^ "Sitting in Bars with Cake - Rotten Tomatoes". www.rottentomatoes.com. September 8, 2023.
  40. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (February 8, 2023). "Lena Headey, Yara Shahidi, Isabela Merced, Lana Condor, Millicent Simmonds & Iris Apatow Set For Buzzy Action Pic 'Ballerina Overdrive' From David Leitch & Kelly McCormick's 87North: EFM Hot Package".
  41. ^ Spangler, Todd (April 18, 2018). "'Black-ish Star Yara Shahidi Kicks Off Political-Engagement Campaign With NowThis". Variety.
  42. ^ Seligson, Hannah (November 27, 2015). "'Black-ish' Star Yara Shahidi Is a Role Model Off-Screen". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  43. ^ Berg, Madeline (November 16, 2017). "Meet Yara Shahidi: The 17-Year-Old Actress And Activist". Forbes.
  44. ^ Rogo, Paula (March 11, 2017). "Star Pupil: Michelle Obama Wrote Yara Shahidi A College Recommendation!". Essence.
  45. ^ Bitmead, Charlotte (September 8, 2020). "Yara Shahidi On Loving Her Monobrow And Why Family Give The Best Beauty Advice". ELLE. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  46. ^ "Yara Shahidi Just Asked Hillary Clinton About That Very Uncomfortable Trump Debate". Harper's Bazaar. December 3, 2017.
  47. ^ Smith, Krista (February 9, 2018). "Yara Shahidi on Being a Role Model, Attending Harvard, and Continuing Her Activism". Vanity Fair.
  48. ^ "Yara Shahidi joins the Dior Stands With Women campaign". Arab News. March 16, 2021. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  49. ^ a b c Crist, Allison; Nordyke, Kimberly (August 11, 2019). "Teen Choice Awards: Full List of Winners". The Hollywood Reporter.

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