Women Making History: 10 Reasons Why Yara Shahidi is a Woman You Need to Follow

Photo Credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

As a current Harvard University freshman and an actress co-starring in two primetime family comedies, Yara Shahidi has one very packed schedule.

The Minnesota-born Hollywood starlet and activist has spent her life on and off film and television sets, starting at the age of seven when she appeared as a little girl named Kandace West on Entourage. She’s also sat in on a few A-list photoshoots including the times her father, Afshin Shahidi, photographed Prince. 

Fast-forward 12 years, and a teenaged Yara is starring in her own show. 

The girl everyone’s come to love as Zoey Johnson from Sherman Oaks, Calif (her character on Black-ish and Grown-ish) is budding into her own business woman with philanthropy, Hollywood, a creative family, and an Ivy-League education to push her through. 

As WBLS celebrates Women’s History Month, we’re giving you 10 reasons to follow Yara Shahidi. 

1. She stars in not one, but two primetime comedies.

2. Mattel created a Barbie Doll just for her as part of its “Sheroes” collection to celebrate their 60th anniverary. 

3. Her activism led to a college recommendation letter from Michelle Obama.

Yara Shahidi and Michelle Obama

Photo Credit: Paul Morigi / Stringer 

4. She’s appeared in nine major film and TV series including Salt, Entourage, and Alex Cross — starting at the age of seven.

5. She has a black belt in karate (so watch out)!


6. She’s not just a bad ass actress and philanthropist, she’s pretty much a genius. (Accepted everywhere, but meant for Harvard.) 

“I did get all of my college acceptances and I’m keeping them close to the belt as of right now, but I got into every college I applied to.”

7. Yara and Nas are second cousins.

Nas and Yara Shahidi

Photo Credit: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

8. She had the chance to sit on stage and interview Hillary Clinton at the Teen Vogue Summit.


9. Beyoncé used her to model for Ivy Park.


10. Her passion for philanthropy is endless: She formed Yara’s Club, a partnership with The Young Women’s Leadership School that brings high school students together to discuss social issues, and Eighteen x 18, an effort to increase voter turnout.