Yara Shahidi - Trailblazer Award

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Yara Shahidi is an actress, executive producer, change agent, and breakout star of ABC’s Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated comedy ABC series Black-ish and its spinoff Grown-ish on Freeform. Currently, in season 3, Shahidi stars as Zoey Johnson, an ambitious, fashion-forward college student figuring out adulthood. It is a drastic change from her comfortable and posh upbringing in suburbia, as the daughter of a doctor and advertising executive. The series tackles important issues facing both students figuring out adulthood.

Since Black-ish launched in 2014, Shahidi has been awarded a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress, a Gracie Award for Female in a Breakthrough Role and, most recently, highlighted on TIME Magazine’s annual 30 Most Influential Teens list as well as Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2017 and 2018 respectively on behalf of her television contributions and humanitarianism. Shahidi is one of Hollywood’s most heralded young talents as she continues to use her platform to empower and inspire others.

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Shahidi actually received her start alongside her mother, appearing in several international commercials and print campaigns. Her first major film came when she was offered the opportunity to audition for the role of Olivia Danielson in the Paramount film Imagine That opposite Eddie Murphy. She quickly took to the role of the creative and happy-go-lucky daughter to Murphy, bolstering her love of acting.

Shahidi’s extensive film roles include Sony Pictures’ Unthinkable as the daughter of Samuel L. Jackson, Columbia Pictures’ Salt opposite Angelina Jolie, Summit Entertainment’s Alex Cross as the daughter of Tyler Perry and the film Butter where she starred opposite Jennifer Garner. Shahidi’s most recent film from Warner Bros. The Sun Is Also a Star, released Spring 2019, explored a love story alongside one of the most pressing issues of the century: immigration and inclusion. Written by Nicola Yoon and directed by Ry Russo, the film was also a love letter to New York City celebrating love for interconnectedness as well as humanity. Up next, Shahidi will take on Tinker Bell in Disney’s live action Peter Pan.

Off-screen, Shahidi continues to use her platform to inspire others to be engaged in the political process. In 2016, the young star launched Eighteen by 18 to educate and motivate first-time voters to turn out for the 2018 mid-term elections. Shahidi continues to champion STEM programs and resources for young students across the country and used her platform to advocate for funding for classrooms in need of science and tech resources. Shahidi also collaborated with the Obama administration on several White House STEM initiatives.

Yara is an advocate for women’s issues, including girls’ education, and has worked with the United Nations Girl Up initiative. She was also spotlighted in the New York Times and Variety’s Youth Impact and Next Big Thing issues. The young business-woman was profiled in The Hollywood Reporter’s Young Hollywood issue, which identified her as the leader of the New Hollywood guard. Shahidi is a recipient of the esteemed Daily Point of Light Award from the Points of Light organization and was honored at Essence Magazine’s 10th Black Women in Hollywood Awards and received the BET’s Young Star Award in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Last fall, Shahidi formed 7th Sun Productions in partnership with Keri Shahidi.