Yara Shahidi is the 19-year-old force of nature that we all want to be when we grow up, and with the confidence of 1000 Beyoncé's, this policy adjacent influencer doesn't plan on slowing down anytime soon. After skipping the first grade, snagging her first movie role at only 9 years old, and becoming a lead character on the network television series, Black-ish at only 14, the future looks bright for Yara, who understands that her purpose is much bigger than herself.
In a recent interview with Glamour, Yara revealed the real reason that she goes so hard at her craft, and according to her, it's because she doesn't have any other choice. She explained:
"What remains a through-line in each and every project—and any world that I occupy—is that I want there to be a greater purpose. That purpose may be as simple as providing joy or it may be helping in the field of equity or amplifying other people's voices. But my metric for success is having an impact on something greater than myself."
For the 19-year-old actress, life has always been a place for exploration, and this was a trait that her mother appreciated and cultivated since Yara's childhood.
"I've always been curious. My mother always says, 'There's nothing more interesting than an interested human.' And I've just always been interested."
Strong women raise strong daughters, and Yara and her mother, Keri, are a true testament to this fact. In the interview, Yara explained that her mother's unconditional acceptance helped cultivate a spirit of pride in the actress that shines through her smile every day. Nobody can root for you if you aren't rooting for you, and Yara says that her mother's constant affirmation has helped her to remember that she deserves to be in the room.
"She constantly says to me, 'You deserve to be in the room.' One thing I'm still trying to figure out is how to advocate for myself as strongly as she advocates for me. It's important that women of color and anyone from marginalized identities understands that they will try to intentionally unsettle you. They'll do this so that you'll spend so much of your time trying to convince people you belong that you don't get to dig in and do the work you were meant to do."
As children, we're taught not to talk back, and we carry this way of thinking into adulthood; but Yara says that by allowing our daughters to speak out and challenge previously established ideals, we're opening up the door for a world of innovation:
"There's this assumption that young people are supposed to stay quiet and all of a sudden turn 18 and have fully formed opinions. But the problem is that you haven't been given a platform or the opportunity as a young person to develop or form those opinions."
While Yara is out here inspiring us with her style, grace, and affinity for advocacy, the young entertainer says that she's only been able to become the agent of change that she is after being encouraged by others. For Yara, true success means leveling the playing field so that women that look like her not only feel comfortable in the room but have a seat at the table.
"I don't think I'd be doing the work I'm doing if I wasn't constantly inspired by the other young people doing this work, by the other young people doing work I didn't even realize had to be done. I feel like we constantly educate one another. Because we inherited a world in crisis, we enter this world inspired to make change."
To read Yara's full interview, click here!
Featured image by Giphy