Yara Shahidi Chats with JJJ About 'Black-ish' & Her Love for Learning!

Yara Shahidi Chats with JJJ About 'Black-ish' & Her Love for Learning!

Check out this brand new interview with the talented Yara Shahidi!

The 14-year-old actress stars in ABC’s hit show Black-ish as Zoey, whom she describes as “a mash up of so many teenagers.”

Yara told us, “She is fashionable, feisty and witty, like her father Dre. She is smart, popular and obsessed with social media!”

Black-ish airs Wednesdays @ 9:30/8:30c on ABC!

Check out the rest of our interview below!

JustJaredJr: Tell us about the day you got the role on Black-ish. Where were you and how did you react?

Yara Shahidi: The day I found out that I would be Zoey Johnson on Black-ish, I had just finished my day at school. My mom texted me while I was getting ready to leave for the day. All she said was, “Hey Yar, Anthony Anderson wants to chat with you.” I had a feeling it was good news! Once Anthony told me the good news, I squealed, dropped my books and my phone!

Click inside to read the rest of our interview with Yara Shahidi

JustJaredJr.com Interview – Yara Shahidi

JJJ: What’s it like working with Anthony & Tracee [Ellis Ross] as your on-screen parents?

YS: It’s pretty amazing to go to work every day and watch such accomplished comedic actors. The most real moment for me was realizing that I am actually working along side them. Anthony is hilarious, warm, loud and boisterous- and he is the ultimate professional and has taught me to stay in the moment, because he finds so many funny moments in a scene and I have to be able to roll with the changes! Working with Tracee is great because we have created a mother-daughter bond pretty quickly. She is caring and sweet and a comedic genius! Tracee has mastered physical comedy so effortlessly. Tracee has helped me find a space to create who I want my character, Zoey to be.

JJJ: You also play the young Olivia Pope on Scandal, which is such an awesome role. Did you have to study Kerry Washington at all?

YS: You’re right! Another awesome role I am lucky to have gotten! I actually didn’t need to. I could tell just from watching season one of Scandal that our energies are pretty similar! When I received the script, the first thing I said was, “Oh my gosh, this is who I am…in real life!”

JJJ: You’ve worked with so many talented actors – Eddie Murphy, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Garner, Tyler Perry. What’s the best advice you’ve gotten for them/best lesson you’ve learned from working with them?

YS: The best advice that I have received from actors is to stay true to who I am. They appreciate my quirky love of history, reading and math, and love how my experiences add to my acting abilities. Karey Kirkpatrick, the director of Imagine That, told me how much he respected my decision when I changed a line in the script, I was supposed to tell my dad (Eddie Murphy) to shut up. In the audition process, I told a room full of producers that I would never say shut up to my dad!

JJJ: Aw! We heard you spent time in London. Tell us about that experience!

YS: I went to Oxford University to pursue my love of all things history! The first few days were a little nerve wracking, since it was my first time staying on a university campus, in Europe without my family! I didn’t know anyone when I arrived, but by the end of the program, I had made new friends from around the world and came home with a deeper understanding of the importance of history. For example, did you know that the Titanic had two sister ships, the Britannica and the Olympic, that sunk after the Titanic did?

JJJ: Wow, we didn’t know that! You’re so smart! You also visited Harvard recently. Are you thinking about enrolling?

YS: I did visit Harvard! I was lucky enough to be given a private tour of the campus, eat lunch with students and have dinner with the amazing poet Jamaica Kincaid and my history idol, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.! My cousin, NAS, was being honored at Harvard, and he wanted me to see the campus! I have big plans and have my sights set on Harvard!

JJJ: What’s the best advice you could give about balancing school and work?

YS: Oh man….as an actor and a student, I always look at it as having two extremely important jobs. My educational dedication has actually deepened my acting abilities and given me opportunities to go to Harvard and Oxford. For us young actors, it’s important to keep in mind that education keeps the door open to so many new opportunities and life experiences. I get up before my call time and study. I study on set, and I come home and study! It pays off, though- I just received my quarter grades…4.57GPA woo hoo!!

JJJ: Congrats! That’s amazing! You’ve been acting for a long time, what do you like to do for fun?!

YS: Acting is fun! But when I want to let loose…I travel with my family! We have been to New Zealand, Italy, France, Dubai and lots of other places! We are trying to choose our next destination now! There is nothing like going on vacation and coming home with new insights and information.

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Photos: Bob D'Amico / ABC
Posted to: Exclusive, Yara Shahidi