Zoey lands a fellowship at Teen Vogue in the "Nothing But Nepotism" episode, airing Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. ET on ABC
In “Nothing but Nepotism,” Zoey Johnson learns a thing or two about family advantages after she lands a fellowship position at Teen Vogue through the help of her dad, Dre Johnson (Anthony Anderson).
Shahidi, 16, tells PEOPLE that the idea for the collaboration between the publication and ABC was pitched by Editor of Teen Vogue Elaine Welteroth, who makes a cameo as herself in the upcoming episode.
“It was Elaine’s brilliant idea,” Shahidi, who is Teen Vogue‘s December cover star, tells PEOPLE. “She had the idea of mixing in a Teen Vogue fellowship onto the show, which was so cool because I feel like it perfectly ties into something that Zoey would be interested in … It truly fit into who Zoey is and how they’ve established her as a fashionista and driven.”
Welteroth, 29, resented the idea to creator Kenya Barris, and credits the inspiration for the collaboration to Shahidi.
“I was really inspired by working with Yara. I think this is a situation where life kind of imitates art and art imitates life because in this case, Yara wasn’t just our cover star — she was also our first-ever guest editor, so there’s a lot of collaboration happening organically on the issue,” Welteroth says and adds of the episode, “What does it mean for a black family who is in this generation and has ascended to this place of being able to enjoy the power of being able to help someone in their family or someone in their community? And how do you grapple with that? The episode explores all of that in a very funny and very fresh way.”
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Shahidi says of the nepotism-focused episode: “What I appreciate is the fact that they tie in black history … It’s more than just feeling like you haven’t earned it, but finally being in position after years where you may be the first in your family to get that far … I appreciate how nuanced it is. Of course every family who has a kid or a relative can understand, but at the same time they do focus on being a person of color and how that adds to the situation.”
Despite having no previous acting experience, Welteroth was up for playing a version of herself on the episode, and remembers her time on the ABC set as being “a lot of fun.”
“For the record, I have no acting experience, no acting aspirations whatsoever, and this experience just gave me a ton of admiration — even more admiration than I already had — for actors,” says Welteroth, who was encouraged to “just go for it” with her lines.
Welteroth also recalls Anderson showcasing his playful antics and jokingly teasing her while on set. “I will say that the highlight of my day was after [Anthony] was trying to throw me off — it became this game — and then when it was his turn to deliver his lines, he couldn’t remember them. It became this amazing war between us. It was all friendly and fun, but I was like, ‘Oh, you need a hug? You can’t remember your lines?’ Everyone was laughing and having a great time with that ” she says, and adds with a laugh, “Everyone was like, ‘He gives every guest star a really hard time, but I can tell, he really likes you. I know you can’t tell.’ That was really, really fun.”
Adds Shahidi of Welteroth, “She truly became a part of the black-ish family.”
Black-ish airs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. ET on ABC.