Yara Shahidi has always struck a balance between work and play, but landing her role as Zoey Johnson on black-ish interrupted her equilibrium and invited a world of unprecedented opinions that she had to learn to get used to.
“When black-ish started, that was a lot of attention at a young age,” she tells Byrdie. “The good thing about that is people felt like they were our family because they watched us weekly. The bad thing is sometimes certain boundaries do not exist with people in person.”
Yara says she once felt “like I couldn’t mess up,” given her status as a household name.
“I’m such a square that I really couldn’t get in trouble if I tried, but I had this weird feeling [that] if I’m out in the world and mess up, that’s it,” she says, noting, “As Brown and Black women, there’s an added layer of the stakes of your mistakes.”
“This is especially true if you’re the only one in a space,” she continues. “However, we shouldn’t have to forego the experience of being able to say, ‘If I mess up, I’ll still be worthy of this moment, space, and opportunity.’”
Yara credits her college experience for helping her “learn how to carve out a distinct space for my private life, which allowed me to enjoy my public life.” She’s now growing, evolving and honoring her needs and desires in what she calls her “selfish season.”
“Even though I’ve worked for the 23 years I’ve been alive, by no means have I experienced all of life,” Yara says. “I’m at an exciting phase where I’m coming to terms with just how much more life there is to live.”
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