Zendaya on the African American community connecting with their roots: “I think it would bring a lot of pride. I think it has done that already a little bit. I notice on social media little hash-tags, like when we have #BlackOutDay or #MelaninMonday or #BlackGirlmagic – however small a hash-tag may be, they mean a lot and are beautiful to see. When you scroll through and see people embracing their natural curls or their skin and being confident in it and feeling that it’s beautiful – that is something that’s really cool to see. Especially on social media, which is usually very negative. And all of that starts with having pride in who you are.”
Yara on identifying as black: “When I was little, I didn’t feel the pressure, because again it was something fun that I loved to do, but I think growing up I became more aware of it. I was aware that there was a pressure. I never fully experienced it, because we were very careful even just in auditioning, that I would only audition for something that I would be proud to be a part of. It would be interesting to go out for things where I was called for the role of the ‘ambiguous’ person. Whereas if there was a role for an Iranian person, for example, they wouldn’t exactly put me in that category – I’d be the ambiguous person. I was neither. There were plenty of roles where it was like – we’re looking for the young black girl and she’s going to be the sidekick best friend who only talks in hash-tags and says YOLO every three seconds, and through affirmative action helps to get her best friend into school. There were plenty of those roles out there. By knowing that that’s not what I wanted to do as an actress or for my community either, I avoided much of that pressure.
Kat on being a positive role model: “You know – I’m a black girl. My mom even said to me when I was younger, ‘You need to take projects that make your race proud. You need to be a positive representative.’ It’s not just – oh I’m going to play a strong African American woman on a television show. It’s also what you do when you’re not shooting, in your free time. Are you going to be walking red carpets to get fashion press, or are you going to be actually dedicating your time to helping people? Maybe visit refugee camps, or go profile people, work for the U.N. refugee agency, you know – take some damn responsibility for the fact that people are watching you.”
Serayah on thinking outside skin tone: “I think being honest with ourselves and not taking every little thing so personally. We have to open to one another. I don’t even know the half of it. Someone who is a grandparent or a great grandparent could help me to understand why inequality is the way it is – how we got to this point, where we came from. Just being honest and open about the situation, that racism does occur and it is happening all around us is the first step to moving forward. Letting it be a conversation among different races – we get very sensitive about the subjects and so we don’t hear each other out. That’s where a lot of communication gets lost, and one person is called out as being not sufficient, you know? And the pattern just repeats.”
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