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Yara Shahidi entered the spotlight as a young actress, starring on Imagine That at just nine years old and later landing a role in Black-ish and Grown-ish as Zoey Johnson.
But Shahidi’s influence does not stop there, as she has also been heavily involved in activism from a young age, often using her platform to express her opinion and support on different political issues.
In a 2017 interview with Teen Vogue Shahidi mentioned her parents’ influence on her involvement in activism, “I feel like activism has always been ingrained into who I am because of how my parents have raised me. When I first started earning my mother would help me divide it into three: saving money, spending money, and donation money. Giving became a very integral part of the process, especially people that had as much abundance as we were able to have.”
Shahidi is very active on social media platforms, sharing hashtags, speaking up on social issues, and urging people to become more involved.
She has emphasized her intent to elevate other voices when using her platform. “A lot of the work that I’m hoping to do is about pointing people toward the organizers and the people on the front lines of this movement, because they have the most prescient, most real, most necessary voices. The greatest skill about having a platform, I think, is handing over the mic,” she told ELLE in July of last year.
While attending school, she founded Yara’s Club in partnership with Young Women’s Leadership Network of New York, an organization that provides online mentorship focused on defeating poverty through education.
Shahidi has received wide recognition for her work as a humanitarian and was even listed as one of TIME Magazine’s annual 30 Most Influential Teens in 2016 and 2017.