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Yara Shahidi on being a woman of color in Hollywood

Larry King NowApr 28 '17

Seventeen-year-old 'Black-ish' star Yara Shahidi discusses her experience as a woman of color in Hollywood, eloquently explaining why being a black and Iranian actress is both a blessing and a curse.

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Larry King: Abigail Swift on the ‘Larry King Now’ blog, “Do you think you faced a more difficult time making it in Hollywood as a woman of color?”

Yara Shahidi: I’d have to say I’ve been pretty fortunate in the roles that I find. I do think the one difficulty that I face, and I know I don’t face as extreme cases as some of my peers do, as women of color or people of color, but there is definitely a certain type of role that you’re typecast as, and so I feel that there’s plenty of moments in which the two scripts that are out at the moment do not reflect who I am or who I want to represent. And so I think the extra or added pressure is more so this idea that everything I do is some sort of statement, and I mean I’m proud that it’s a statement, but-

Larry King: You put that on yourself or they put that on you?

Yara Shahidi: I think it’s just collective awareness of the impact of every image we see in media, especially because it controls so much of the narrative that we understand. And so it’s not even something that is put upon me, but just a general understanding of the importance and power of seeing people of color on TV, or any sort of protected class or minority on TV. And the importance of representing.

Larry King: Sometimes it can be an edge, isn’t it?

Yara Shahidi: I mean what it has done is really been, has made what I do really intentional, and I think that if anything, it’s given me a more focused path, because I understand the importance of the roles that I’m playing, or the impact that they could potentially have. And so even with characters like Zoey I feel like it’s knowing that that’s prompted us to make her as edgy as she is, or as complex as she is.

Larry King: ‘Black-ish’ is a show that maybe couldn’t have, that couldn’t have been on 20 years ago, right?

Yara Shahidi: No.

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