Yara Shahidi opens up about growing up with Prince during BETX

Yara Shahidi speaks onstage at Genius Talks Sponsored By Credit Karma during the BET Experience at the Los Angeles Convention Center on June 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for BET)

June is Black Music Month, and while making an appearance at this year’s BET Experience at L.A. LIVE, Grown-ish star Yara Shahidi sat down with host Jemele Hill during the festival’s Genius Talks series.

Shahidi has often been applauded for being a voice for her generation and gets passionate while talking about politics. But she became visibly sentimental Saturday afternoon, when recalling what it was like growing up with Prince as an extended part of her family.

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“When I think about what Prince has done for our family, we’re always just grateful for his presence and what he’s done for the creative world at large,” the 19 year old actress says of the years that her father, Afshin Shahidi, worked as the music legend’s personal photographer.

“All the work that he’s done that no one actually even knew about and the work that he’s done for our family in particular. It’s surreal to think about because I think he really set precedent of what it means to make this a family business. To be three or four and to be able to travel with him and the rest of the band, to be on tour and to be in Hawaii with them, to be in London with them,” she continued.

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Shahidi also shared how the musician made it a point to celebrate her career from the beginning.

“When my [first] movie Imagine That came out, he rented a theater for people to see it and he had copies that he’d give out to people that he was working with. And even when Black-ish came out, he did reach out to just say how proud he was. And it, again, speaks to the power of supporting one another. Whether it is giving somebody an opportunity, whether it is just setting an example of how you can move through this world with grace, with care.”

The actress said along with her parents, Prince was one of the people instrumental in teaching her how valuable it is to always collaborate and uplift others, no matter how successful you personally become.

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“I think when you move through the world with the misconception that we’re in competition with one another,” she opines. “And it’s not that we woke up one day and said, “Do you know what? I decided to be in competition with you,” but that’s the world we’ve been given. We’ve been given a world in which it’s been affirmed and re-affirmed time and time again that the person across from you is somebody that could take an opportunity from you.”

“I think what he’s established, and fortunately everybody else that I’ve had the pleasure to work with, has established, is the fact that you are not in competition. And the synergy that you can create with two people or multiple people actually leads to more opportunities,” she concluded.