Yara Shahidi is not your typical high school Sophomore. She’s mastered the martial art of Tang Soo Do, earning her black belt, speaks, writes, and reads Farsi, and has built a stellar acting career that rivals people twice her age. Shahidi has been acting since around the age of 8 and can be seen on the big screen opposite huge stars like Eddie Murphy in “Imagine That” and Jennifer Garner and Ty Burrell in “Butter.” She also played a young Olivia Pope on ABC’s Scandal.
Today, the NAACP award nominee can be seen playing Zoey Johnson, on of the beloved children on Dre (Anthony Anderson) and Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross), on ABC’s hit comedy series Black-ish. I caught up with Yara Shahidi and we talked about her new gig working on Black-ish, the character she plays, working with her cast mates and more! Check out the excerpts below.
Yara Shahidi Describes ‘Black-ish’:
“Well it’s a family comedy following a black family and our parents are very affluent and working. Our father Dre is in advertisement, our mother Bow [Rainbow] is a doctor and they’re basically dealing with raising these kids in this new world, it’s totally different from the world that Dre lived in and he’s kind of shocked that his kids are seemingly colorblind. So basically it follows Dre raising us and the struggles that he faces as he realizes that this world is changing around him.”
On her character Zoey Johnson:
“I play Zoey Johnson, I’m the oldest of the four Johnson kids and I’m kind of the socialite of all of them. I’m very popular at school, very smart, and then she’s very witty but understated. So she’s seems kind of detached from the family at times because she goes through that phrase that teenagers go through but it’s OK, you’re kind of doing your own thing but then there are those moments when you connect back with your family.
On working with Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross and Laurence Fishburne:
“It’s like continuously learning, kind of an acting class every single day and it’s so great, ’cause not only are they such great people, welcoming, warm people but they’re such veterans in acting in comedy, in drama, in all of that, that you learn so much. Just being on set you’re learning how to really figure out who your character is and deciding for yourself, going with the flow and you realize, ‘oh I’m on a comedy set, things are going to change,’ you can’t be stuck to one line and you can’t be stuck to the way you’re going to do something, it’s like being in a relationship with somebody you have to feel out how everything works.”
On her similarities between own family vs. TV family, The Johnsons:
“We’re pretty similar. I think what’s so crazy is that when I read some of the scripts I’m like ‘this just happened in my house the other day.’ My mother was just telling me about “the nod.” I, like Andre Jr. didn’t nod back at somebody. And I think our families are very similar. My parents are just as goofy, we’re always messing around at our house, a lot of fun.”
On people she’d like to work with:
“So many people. There’s so many people, it’s really so hard to choose in this industry with so many great and established actors and actresses. I’d have to say because I was little Olivia Pope, I never actually got to work in a scene with her, it’d be awesome to work with Kerry Washington, Angela Bassett. I just watched ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’ at the end, so amazing. Denzel Washington, I mean the list goes.”
Catch Yara Shahidi and the rest of the talented cast of Black-ish on Wednesday nights at 9:30 pm EST on ABC, with new episodes starting tonight. Also be sure to follow Yara on social media @RealYaraShahidi on Twitter and @officialyarashahidi on Instagram
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Photo Credit: Afshin Shahidi