Yara Shahidi has made headlines quite frequently as of late, particularly for conversations surrounding her skin tone and biracial/bicultural identity. The 18-year-old actress is the daughter of an African-American mother and Iranian father and Harper’s Bazaar Arabia recently chose the talented starlet as the cover subject for their June issue in which they explore her world of mixed cultures.

“Being multicultural, you can’t help but be interested and connected to the world around you,” Yara told the mag. “My family is from all over the world, so how can you not care for people around the world too? My baba was born in Iran and I come from a beautiful matriarchy on both sides of my family, which I adore.”

Referencing her cousin Anousheh Ansari, who is the first Iranian-American astronaut and the first female private space explorer, the Grown-Ish lead added, “My Iranian relatives have reaffirmed the idea that the sky is the limit – but in fact, my cousin proved that the sky isn’t even the limit because she went to space!

“I hit the cultural jackpot in terms of food, but what’s fascinating is that as different as both sides may seem, they’re really similar,” Yara said. “How we operate, our moral code, who we are in general, being close to family, respect… It’s really universal in a way that blurs both sides… I don’t see much of a ‘this is my black side and this is my Iranian side’, because I come from a family of socially-engaged humans, and it’s hard to identify because of how similar both sides are.”

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And while Yara has a clear understanding of who she is, she has no issue helping others understand her racial identity, telling Harper’s she prefers to “constantly put myself in a position to help other people understand my background. There’s a certain separatist movement happening versus understanding how connected we are. So much of what we believe stems from similar origins, so it means you can relate to one another if you really listen and pay attention.”

See what else Yara had to say about her mission to foster equality here.


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