5 Fascinating Facts about Yara Shahidi

There's a lot to love about this actress and activist.

Yara Shahidi
Harper's Bazaar Arabia

Yara Shahidi is a force to be reckoned with and we can’t wait to see what this amazing actress and activist does next.

There’s lots to love about this talented beauty who has the poise of a woman three times her age at just 18. Her intelligence is as undeniable as her flawless face and she has her sights set on big things in the future.

Here are five fascinating facts we learned about the star when she graced the cover of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia:

She’s proud of her heritage.  “My family is from all over the world, so how can you not care for people around the world too? My baba was born in Iran and I come from a beautiful matriarchy on both sides of my family, which I adore,” she told the magazine.

Excellence runs in the family. Yara’s cousin, Anousheh Ansari, is the first Iranian-American astronaut and the first female private space explorer. “My Iranian relatives have reaffirmed the idea that the sky is the limit – but in fact, my cousin proved that the sky isn’t even the limit because she went to space!”

She doesn’t choose sides. Shahidi revealed she’s equally connected to both sides of her heritage and revealed how similar her Iranian and Black cultures are.  “I hit the cultural jackpot in terms of food, but what’s fascinating is that as different as both sides may seem, they’re really similar. How we operate, our moral code, who we are in general, being close to family, respect… It’s really universal in a way that blurs both sides,” she said.“No, I don’t see much of a ‘this is my black side and this is my Iranian side’, because I come from a family of socially-engaged humans, and it’s hard to identify because of how similar both sides are. But I have to say, I was at the Met Gala recently and I saw a pomegranate and I proceeded to cut it open and serve pomegranate to people at my table. That’s pretty Iranian!”

Farsi was her first language. Yara Shahidi grew up in Minnesota and learned Farsi before she spoke English.  “Everyone in my community in Minnesota who spoke Farsi, I was related to, so when I moved to California I thought the same applied and thought I had so many aunts because I didn’t realise that other people knew Farsi outside of my family. But then I realised it didn’t matter – when you meet someone from Iran, or someone who has visited Iran, or who has ties to Iran, there’s a sense of belonging. Whether you’re walking down Fairfax in LA… There’s a strong sense of community wherever I go.”

Her mother is her biggest inspiration. Yara’s lucky to have her “momager,” Kerry Shahidi, leading her through an industry she has experience in and it seems like she’s her mom’s biggest fan. “I have to say, I’ve been learning more and more about what the women in my family have accomplished and it’s extraordinary. Their dedication to people, to science, to community, to politics… But my mama, she’s my first role model,” she said. “She’s really shown me how to be a woman of colour.”