Why Yara has to look to herself for a role model
You probably recognize the crazy-talented Yara Shahidi from her starring role on Black-ish where she portrays the eldest daughter Zoey. And if you follow her on social media, you probably also know her as the fierce activist/feminist who’s making waves among millennials.
Yara recently spoke with Teen Vogue of how she’s taking it upon herself to change representation on TV and what it’s like to be black in the business.
“Stepping into the world of TV and movies as a child actress, I saw the lack of people who looked like me. But it’s so much more than “I want to see somebody with my skin tone.” There could be 10 people who look like me on a show, but they all got killed in the first scene. Or they’re all in jail. Or they’re all the best friend. I want to see somebody who looks like me as the doctor and the criminal and the successful businessperson and the woman barely making a living. I want to see the spectrum.”
Despite only achieving fame recently, Yara has actually been working in Hollywood since she was a kid. She says that the only person she really had to look up to as a young black girl was, well, herself!
“Some of my childhood modeling jobs were with Mattel and Disney, so I’d go into the Disney store and literally see me. My family was cleaning up the garage, and I found these life-size cutouts of 6-year-old me as the black Tinkerbell, black Cinderella, you name it, which is hilarious.”
But it wasn’t as great as it sounds. She added,
“But being the black version of so many characters brought up problems. I was happy to be black, but at the same time there were moments of, “Why is this a separate collection?” There was this realization that being black meant I was the “off-brand” version because Cinderella wasn’t made to look like me.”
Yara shared the Teen Vogue cover with her bestie and fellow activist/feminist/actress Rowan Blanchard, who’s the star of Disney’s Girl Meets World.