Yara Shahidi is a teen powerhouse.
Not only does the 17-year-old actress appear on the critically-acclaimed and Emmy-nominated show Black-ish, she’s also a superstar student on her way to Harvard University (she was accepted to every college she applied to and snagged a letter of recommendation from Michelle Obama) and a passionate activist. The star has used her platform to speak out about the topics that concern her most, including politics, Black Lives Matter and representation in Hollywood.
Her latest mission: Speaking out about the beauty industry in hopes of making it a more inclusive place for all. She even partnered with Clean & Clear to promote diversity in the beauty community, especially for young women.
“It’s not that I want to be the face of black girls, but I’m just hoping I can be one of the many faces that ends up here [in beauty campaigns],” the actress—whose mother is African-American and father is Iranian-American—told reporters at an event for the brand recently. “That’s what I love. Because so much of [confidence] comes from seeing yourself reflected and I have the great fortune of seeing myself reflected in both Iranian women and black women. To be one of those faces for girls is really cool and surreal to think about.”
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Shahidi added that the rise of Instagram and Twitter have helped the world become a more inclusive place.
“Now that we have social media, media infiltrates our lives on a daily basis whether you like it or not,” Shahidi said. “It’s so ingrained in our life so it’s really important to become more inclusive because it’s no longer even a choice to consume this media and it’s been such a big player in how we view ourselves.”
Although changing the beauty industry starts with the companies taking action, Shahidi doesn’t want young women of color to feel like they can’t help make a difference.
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“I think some of it is realizing our mind power,” she says. “I don’t think we value ourselves enough to realize how important we are. There are some companies that are paying attention to what were doing and what were buying and are being authentic to our experience because they’re aware of our power as young girls.”
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The power comes in planning where you spend your dollars, she says. “It’s about aligning yourself with brands that align with you, other than your [beauty] regimen, but in your social and political beliefs. That’s what’s important.”