Featured Image: Petra Collins
Yara Shahidi is the seventeen year old American teenager at the front of todays ‘representation renaissance’.
Staring in the TV show Black-ish Shahidi uses her platform to be an active public speaker outside her TV work. She uses her voice to promote women’s empowerment and encourage young people to engage in politics.
Her role as Zoey in Black-ish has supported her to nuance the characterisation of black people in the media. Much like the teenage female she acts as on the show, Shahidi herself is also seen as remarkably insightful and intelligent by the media. In both her character and authentic self, Shahidi stands as evidence that a young black woman can of course be successful and smart, but, due to past depictions of black people, this is sadly seen as a ‘new’ or ‘extraordinary’.
On her fight to dismantle the stereotype, the actress and activist had said: ‘My main challenge is constantly asking questions (of) and being in conversation with those ‘in charge’ about keeping roles for women and POC multifaceted and representative of our true nature’. In pursuing the depiction of identity in this way, Shahidi notes that it is only when this genuine layered depiction of people is achieved that ‘we are seeing and hearing the complex and multifaceted voices of our world’.