This younger generation of actresses and actors are definitely holding their own when it comes to speaking out about injustice and oppression–and Black-ish actress Yara Shahidi is no exception.
Last month, while she accepting a philanthropy award from the Points of Life Conference on Volunteering and Service, the 16-year-old called out how Hollywood stereotypes people of color. And from the looks of it, she broke it all the way down for the audience. (Thank goodness it was recorded!)
During her speech, Shahidi praised shows such as Jane The Virgin and Transparent and challenged Hollywood to incorporate more characters of color that are nuanced and have real substance. She also stressed that when all Black and Latino youth see on television are stereotypes of themselves, it warps their self-perception by telling them that “they are an anomaly if they succeed” because they are usually expected to “fail.”
“How can there be parity or the belief that we are valued similarly if we are still being perceived and perceiving others as a tired stereotype or as one-dimensional?” she asked the audience.
Shahidi also discussed how playing Zoey on Black-ish is a means of practicing her “activism through art.”
“It is through my character and characters like her that the barrier of racism, ageism, sexism and other -isms can be broken down,” she said.
“Art plus activism in any and all forms is a powerful statement that can spread a message that transcends the barriers and limitations of our different realities to reveal the commonality of our shared human existence,” she concluded.