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By Oluwatoyin Adeleye

Yara Shahidi is one teenager that has proven to the world that she is about more than just social media selfies and and filters, even though she does take selfies (with the likes of Oprah Winfrey, the Obamas, etc).

yara shahidi

The 18-year-old actress, student and activist covers Elle UK magazine, where some of her views are aired with such firmness and understanding.

Speaking with writer, curator and fellow free-thinker behind Instagram account @museummammy, Kimberly Drew, Shahidi spoke about politics, social media, humanity, education and more.

Speaking about her mentors, Yara Shahidi said: “First and foremost, my parents (are my mentors). People like [Black Lives Matter co-founder] Patrisse Cullors, who I met at The Underground Museum when I was there to watch Angela Davis speak. I already know of them both previously, but actually seeing them speak made me dig deeper into Patrisse’s history of organising, which started at such a young age. Mentorship is extremely important and, like you say, a lot of it stems from peers within my own generation.”

yara shahidi

When Kimberly asked her: “As you’re entering the Harvard space, I wonder if you’ve theorised about how people your age are educated?” Yara’s reply was quick and well-thoughtout.

It’s so funny you brought that up, because all I’ve ever wanted to do with my life is create an alternate, more inclusive curriculum. I believe that education is where we form most of our opinions and create this idea of who we see as family, who we see as part of our community and who we decide to alienate.

“I think our Eurocentric curriculum, which is one that I have definitely enjoyed learning, is detrimental to our generation – my parents got me into Greek myths and African folklore. I did an audio history course that went through the beginning of time, starting with Mesopotamian civilisation.

yara shahidi

“When I look at education at large, there are so many things that are problematic. If we look at people who are unwelcoming to immigrants, that’s because their own story hasn’t even been put in the context of being an immigrant. So much is left out of textbooks.”

“That’s why we’re creating Eighteen x 18 [Yara’s creative platform to engage first-time voters]. We’re still at the beginning stage in terms of the impact we’d like to have, but it stemmed from a discussion of how the news had not been marketed to us [as young people].

“News is another form of media programming that has its target demographic – and therefore our lack of understanding is systematic. It keeps people out of political conversations, because how do you even begin to join in?”

She also spoke more about social media, its effect and the importance of joy in humanity. Read her full interview on Elle UK.

See more photos below:

yara shahidi yara shahidi


Photography Alex Franco.

Styling Gillian Wilkins.

Read also: Yara Shahidi Talks Grown-ish, Politics, More On Hollywood Reporter’s September Cover

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