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October 12, 2017 03:48 PM

Black-ish has come out of the gate swinging every week since its season 4 premiere earlier this month, with episodes highlighting Juneteenth and postpartum depression. Now, star Yara Shahidi is opening up about the ABC show’s commitment to pushing the envelope.

“There’s a lot of episodes in which we really tackle the difficult to topics head-on,” Shahidi tells PEOPLE. “It’s important to address these topics because media is so influential, especially within this day in which media’s surrounding us.”

The latest season kicked off on Oct. 3 with the Johnson family celebrating the famed African-American holiday, Juneteenth. A week later, the crew helped Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross) as she dealt with postpartum depression.

“When a show like Black-ish not only covers these topics whether it’s last weekend out Juneteeth episode or going all the way back to the gun control episode and the n-word episode, it does not only start a conversation with our audience, it proves to other content creators and other networks and other production companies that you can successfully be socially relevant in a way that does matter and in a way that does make an impact,” Shahidi says.



In the comedy, Shahidi plays Zoey, a cool, college-bound teenager who is the eldest child of Rainbow and Dre (Anthony Anderson).

Anthony Anderson Opens up about the Personal Parts of ‘Blackish’

The teen says being on the show has been a “special thing” for her, as she comes from a family of activists — “having been able to be a part of a project like Black-ish is just kismet.”

Shahidi will star in a spin-off of the popular show, called Grown-ish, along with Beyoncé‘s protégés Chloe and Halle Bailey.

“The writers have gotten together and we all have the collective goal of portraying an authentic college experience: addressing peer pressure, formulating your own opinions in the chaos of new environments and at the core of it, watching growth,” she told CBS News of the show earlier this year.

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