Yara Shahidi, the talented 19-year-old actress/activist born to Iranian and African-American parents, a detail in which she has never been shy expressing, thinks being mixed race has given her an interesting outlook on racism in America as she has been able to experience the prejudices that two different communities have faced.
I am the result of love. More specifically, black and Iranian love. Of Shia love, of Christian love, of American love, of a love that highlights how interconnected we truly are.
Referencing President Trump’s so-called Muslim ban in the latest issue of NET-A-PORTER’s PorterEdit magazine, Yara said: “It’s a unique perspective, being black and Iranian, and coming from two persecuted peoples. On one side of my family is the list of people who can’t enter the US from certain countries and on the other side are those who are familiar with what it’s like being black in America.”
She credits her background for shifting her sense of what’s possible. Her African American mother Keri and her Iranian father Afshin (who was Prince’s official photographer) encouraged Shahidi and her two younger brothers that they could do anything, provided they worked hard enough. “I felt like my family had already achieved much of the impossible. It’s a unique perspective, being black and Iranian, and coming from two persecuted peoples. On one side of my family is the list of people who can’t enter the US from certain countries,” she says, referring to President Trump’s so-called Muslim travel ban, “and on the other side are those who are familiar with what it’s like being black in America.”
The ‘Black-ish’ star is passionate about using her fame and connections as an actress to educate her fans to the work she does in terms of voting, registration and civic engagement.
And she has been inspired to use her profile for good by the likes of Beyoncé, Margaret Atwood and Tina Tchen, powerful women who use their status to “inform politics through cultural ways”.
“The ability to have my day job as an actor, while also connect deeply with the work that I want to do in terms of voting, registration and civil engagement for my generation.”
“I’ve seen so many people around me inform politics through cultural ways, and I think that’s the route I’d love to take when I look at people whom I’m fortunate enough to call mentors.”