Yara Shahidi might be the influencer of our generation. She is dedicated to civil duty while also putting her education and career before anything else. I have to be honest, my interest in Shahidi actually came from watching her on “grown-ish” (which I actually watched before “black-ish”) where I realized that above her ability to act, she is incredibly passionate about politics and looking at ways to better the country as a young person. As a woman of color, Shahidi gracefully changes the way a lot of people view our country, and she uses her platform to her advantage.
This past weekend, Shahidi was in Boston to give a talk about her life and career as part of an all-female media company, called Hello Sunshine, that was started by Reese Witherspoon, dedicated to “creating and discovering content that celebrates women and puts them at the center of the story,” according to its website. The powerful thing about the creation of Hello Sunshine is that by being all-inclusive, telling stories about intersectional and intergenerational women, it tells all women that maybe we can achieve equality if we work together as both a sisterhood and a human race.
Shahidi, who is Iranian and African-American, is empowered, well-read and articulate. And she’s using her knowledge and her passion for creating change and emphasizing the importance of education for girls. While she’s not like most teenagers, she has used her background to influence her future — especially with what she’s majoring in at Harvard University (sociology and African-American studies).
In an interview with Jimmy Fallon back in February, Shahidi admitted that she celebrated her 18th birthday by helping all of her friends sign up to vote in the upcoming midterm elections. She said in an interview with Forbes that the biggest myth about our generation that people just don’t understand is that “millennials are non-participatory in influencing socio-political shifts.”
Seeing as the majority of Americans in this country who aren’t millennials believe that millennials are lazy and unwilling to push for change, I would say it’s definitely true that this is one of the misconceptions of our generation. Our generation, more than any other generation, is really empowered to induce change. We are fearless fighters when it comes to our rights. While history has repeated itself, I think it’s safe to say that with the use of social media, people are much more influenced to go out and make a difference.
The midterm elections are coming up in the next few days, and we’ve been seeing ads both on social media and elsewhere telling us to make our voices heard and actually cause change. While celebrities like Shahidi have the voice to actually say things that make a difference, we’ve already seen that, as young people, we are the future, and therefore we can create differences in the society now so that it’s better later.
Shahidi influences people to want to make our society better. She is among a bunch of other celebrities in Hollywood who are trailblazing a better future for the people of this country. Seeing the accomplishments of Shahidi, someone who is younger than me, shows me that having a passion for something and being influenced to actually induce change is empowering. If knowing that you have the power to enforce a shift among a group of people, then you should definitely fulfill your civic duty (if you’re of age, of course) and vote on Tuesday.
Knowing what and how to do your part is not only a part of who we are, but it should be a way for us to carry ourselves into the future. We technically are the backbone of this society, so we should be empowered to have a government that actually has our interests at heart. Shahidi influences me, and I really hope that at least some of you are empowered to fulfill your civic and moral duty to make our world a better one.