‘Black-ish’ Star Yara Shahidi Is Ready For World Conquest

By Neal Justin
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Yara Shahid, one of the stars of the ABC series “Black-ish” will be heading to Harvard next year. Shahid has been accepted but is taking a gap year to shoot a spinoff series in which her character on Black-ish also goes to college.

LOS ANGELES

By the time Harvard students grow bored stealing glances at freshman Malia Obama, they’ll have a new classmate to obsess over, a friend of the First Family with arguably even greater star power.

Yara Shahidi won’t move into the Cambridge, Mass., dorms until next fall, though. She’s taking a gap year to headline a spinoff of her ABC series “Black-ish,” in which her character, Zoey Johnson, heads to college herself.

Zoey is far less ambitious than the actress who plays her.

“Oftentimes I’m developing two characters at the same time, figuring out who Yara is and who Zoey is,” Shahidi said from the Disney Studios, where she’s sprinting back and forth between the sets of the Emmy-nominated “Black-ish,” which returns Tuesday, and her new show “Grown-ish,” tentatively scheduled to premiere in January on the streaming network Freeform.

“How do you make that separation, and embrace this idea that your character is not going to agree with you but still has a valid point of view? It’s been actually kind of fantastic,” she added before slipping in a reference to the rebellious teen in “Catcher in the Rye,” a novel she first read when she was 14. “I kind of see Zoey as my personal-life Holden Caulfield, because you’re allowed to be somebody that you’re not. As a teenager you really don’t have that privilege in many other spaces.”

Even if her new series flunks out with viewers, Shahidi’s future shines bright.

Michelle Obama was so impressed by the young star’s contributions to her Let Girls Learn Initiative that she wrote a college recommendation letter for Shahidi.

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