I can’t believe I forgot. I forgot that Yara Shahidi is starring in the big-screen adaptation of Nicola Yoon’s The Sun Is Also a Star, a YA book about teenagers falling in love so you already know how I feel about it. Yara is starring opposite Charles Melton aka Riverdale’s HOT Reggie 2.0. Yara’s feature in The Hollywood Reporter reminded me that we get to watch Yara and Charles fall in love as Natasha and Daniel. Yes, please.
The Sun Is Also a Star is Yara’s next upcoming big screen role but it’s the least impressive thing mentioned about her in THR. Earlier, I wrote about Zendaya and how extraordinary she already is at 21. Yara Shahidi is 18. The Sun Is Also a Star director Ry Russo-Young summed it up perfectly:
"Yara's a powerhouse. When I was her age, I was lost and stupid."
I’m a grown ass woman and I still feel more lost and stupid than Yara Shahidi. She’s a James Baldwin superfan who is addicted to NPR podcasts. She’s going to Harvard. She reads Voltaire for fun. Her greatest dream is “to create some form of alternate curriculum that is inclusive of all people.” COME ON. Like Zendaya, she is a child star who has yet to be embroiled in scandal. She’s also not a child star I worry about like Millie Bobby Brown, for example. The reason I don’t worry about Yara is because of her mother, Keri.
Keri is very present throughout this piece and if you follow Yara on Instagram, you know that Keri is also very present in Yara’s life and work.
DEM GENES THOUGH. Yara’s mother Keri may pop up in a photoshoot with Yara but there are no Dina Lohan vibes. She’s not trying to capitalize off of her kids’ fame. Please read the following anecdote in full about how Keri reacted to black-ish showrunner Kenya Barris’s call to inform her that Yara was going to get her own spinoff show.
Keri's initial level of enthusiasm didn't match his. "OK, well, Yara's in the middle of her college applications," she told Barris, "but I'll let her know that you called."
It would take another week, until the last of Shahidi's applications was complete, before Keri brought the idea to her daughter. "It's now this running joke with Kenya, who has employed my son, too," says Keri. "He'll be like, 'Did you really not tell her for a whole week?' But as I told him, I have to raise kids first, and then we can get to the other stuff."
See why I’m not worried? Keri isn’t treating her kids’ work like it’s her work too. She’s not putting their jobs on a pedestal that the family is dependent on. This is why Yara Shahidi wants to work for a think tank or be a history professor and “overhaul the U.S. education system” instead of saying that she’d like to win an Oscar one day as her ultimate dream, like so many other young actresses. Aspiring to win an Oscar is not a bad thing and it may be on Yara’s list but her dreams are bigger than Hollywood. Within Hollywood, she’s keen on making a difference with her influence. She’s about to have her own podcast and wants to interview Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She even schooled Kenya Barris on colourism. He says she, “[urged] that the show cast actors with a wider array of skin tones.”
Earlier, I wrote about how Zendaya is using her privilege to shed light on colourism in her industry. Yara is doing the same. If this is the future of Hollywood, is everything going to be OK? Is Gen Z really going to save us? Is Yara’s brilliance making me naively optimistic?
Click here for more of Yara in THR.
Also attached - Yara at the premiere of Crazy Rich Asians last night in LA.