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 21)
EducationHarvard University[1]
OccupationActress and model
Years active2007–present

Yara Sayeh Shahidi (born February 10, 2000)[2] is an American actress, 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).[3] Her film credits include Imagine That (2009), Smallfoot (2018), and the lead role in The Sun Is Also a Star (2019). Time included her on "The 30 Most Influential Teens of 2016" list.[4]

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 Salter, is of mixed African American and Native Choctaw heritage, and her father, Afshin, is Iranian.[8][9][10] 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.[5] The rapper Nas is their cousin.[11]

Keri Shahidi states the name Yara means in Persian "Someone who is close to your heart", the name Sayeed means "Blessing", and Ehsan means "To act as though God is watching".[5]

Shahidi graduated in 2017 from Dwight Global Online School.[12][13][14] Starting in 2018, Shahidi began college at Harvard University with a plan to major in Interdisciplinary Sociology and African American Studies.[12][15]


She began her career when she was 6 years old,[16] 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.

Shahidi made her cinematic debut in 2009, starring opposite Eddie Murphy in Paramount Pictures' Imagine That,[3] for which she received a Young Artist Award nomination for the best performance in a feature film category.[17] 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.

Starting in September 2014, Shahidi began her role in ABC's prime-time comedy Black-ish as 14-year-old Zoey Johnson.[18] In December 2014 she won an NAACP Image Award in the category of 'Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy'.[19]

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.[18]

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.[20]

She was ranked one of the best dressed women in 2018 by fashion website Net-a-Porter.[21]

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.[22]

In 2020, Shahidi and her mother launched their production company 7th Sun and signed a deal with ABC Studios to produce shows.[23] She was recently cast as Tinker Bell in the upcoming Peter Pan remake Peter Pan & Wendy.[24]


Shahidi founded Eighteen x 18 with social news publisher NowThis,[25] 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.[26][27]

Shahidi's activism was noticed by former first lady Michelle Obama, who wrote her a letter of recommendation to Harvard University.[28][29] She was also given the opportunity by Teen Vogue to interview Hillary Clinton in 2017.[30][31]

In 2021, Yara Shahidi joined the Dior Stand with Women campaign.[32]



Year Title Role Notes
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 Nominated - Teen Choice Award for Choice Summer Movie Actress (2019)[33]
2020 Fearless Melanie Voice
2021 PAW Patrol: The Movie Kendra Wilson Voice
2022 Peter Pan & Wendy Tinker Bell Live action


Year Title Role Notes
2007 Entourage Kandace West Episode: "No Cannes Do"
Robotboy Lola MBola
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"
$h*! My Dad Says Girl Scout Episode: "Pilot"
2011 The Cape Layla Episode: "Endgame"
Family Guy Little Girl (voice) Episode: "Episode VI: It's a Trap"
Rip City Montana Television movie
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–present Black-ish Zoey Johnson Main role (seasons 1–3), Recurring role (season 4–5), Guest role (season 6-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, 2019)[33]
2016–2018 Trollhunters Darci Scott (voice) 10 episodes
2018–present Grown-ish Zoey Johnson Lead role
Nominated - Teen Choice Award for Choice Summer TV Actress (2019)[33]
2018–2019 3Below Darci Scott (voice) 8 episodes

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Weaver, Hilary. "Yara Shahidi Will Join Malia Obama at Harvard in 2018". Vanity Fair.
  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. ^ "The 30 Most Influential Teens of 2016". Time. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
  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 2016-10-05. 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 (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, 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 African-American and Native Choctaw heritage, Keri Salter, Yara Shahidi lived in Minneapolis before moving to California at a young age.
  9. ^ Stern, Claire (2015-04-23). "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 2020-09-14. 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. "Yara Shahidi Will Join Malia Obama at Harvard in 2018". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2020-09-14.
  13. ^ Weiss, Suzannah (2017). "Here's Why Yara Shahidi WON'T Be Going to Harvard in the Fall". Teen Vogue. Retrieved 2020-09-14. 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 2020-09-14.
  15. ^ Peoples, Landon (2019-02-07). "From Couture To Harvard To Activism, Yara Shahidi "Undefines" Success". Refinery29.com. Retrieved 2020-09-14. ...in real life, at Harvard, where she's set to double major in Interdisciplinary Sociology and African American Studies...
  16. ^ "Yara Shahidi". Young Black Stars. Archived from the original on April 5, 2016. Retrieved 2016-07-16 – via www.youngblackstars.com.
  17. ^ "Nominations and Special Awards". 31st Annual Young Artist Awards. Retrieved 2016-07-16.
  18. ^ a b Okwodu, Janelle (2016-04-19). "Black-ish's Yara Shahidi Is a Model With a Cause". Vogue.
  19. ^ "Blackish Nominated for Six NAACP Image Awards". Blackish Fans. December 10, 2014. Archived from the original on December 23, 2014.
  20. ^ Wagmeister, Elizabeth (May 19, 2017). "'Black-ish' Spinoff Starring Yara Shahidi Greenlit at Freeform". Variety.
  21. ^ "Best Dressed 2018". Net a Porter.
  22. ^ "Meghan Markle puts Sinéad Burke on the cover of Vogue's September issue". The Irish Times. Jul 29, 2019.
  23. ^ Petski, Denise (2020-07-20). "'Grown-ish' Star Yara Shahidi Inks Overall Deal With ABC Studios, Launches Production Company". Deadline. Retrieved 2020-07-27.
  24. ^ Nate (2020-09-28). "Yara Shahidi Cast as Tinkerbell in New Live-action 'Peter Pan' Movie". Disney News. Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  25. ^ Spangler, Todd (2018-04-18). "'Black-ish Star Yara Shahidi Kicks Off Political-Engagement Campaign With NowThis". Variety.
  26. ^ Seligson, Hannah (2015-11-27). "'Black-ish' Star Yara Shahidi Is a Role Model Off-Screen". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  27. ^ Berg, Madeline (November 16, 2017). "Meet Yara Shahidi: The 17-Year-Old Actress And Activist". Forbes.
  28. ^ Rogo, Paula (2017-03-11). "Star Pupil: Michelle Obama Wrote Yara Shahidi A College Recommendation!". Essence.
  29. ^ Bitmead, Charlotte (2020-09-08). "Yara Shahidi On Loving Her Monobrow And Why Family Give The Best Beauty Advice". ELLE. Retrieved 2020-09-14.
  30. ^ "Yara Shahidi Just Asked Hillary Clinton About That Very Uncomfortable Trump Debate". Harper's Bazaar. 2017-12-03.
  31. ^ Smith, Krista (February 9, 2018). "Yara Shahidi on Being a Role Model, Attending Harvard, and Continuing Her Activism". Vanity Fair.
  32. ^ "Yara Shahidi joins the Dior Stands With Women campaign". Arab News. 2021-03-16. Retrieved 2021-03-16.
  33. ^ a b c Crist, Allison; Nordyke, Kimberly (August 11, 2019). "Teen Choice Awards: Full List of Winners". The Hollywood Reporter.

External links[edit]