You may know Yara Shahidi best from her acting roles in black-ish or grown-ish but the young actress through her partnership with Dell is seeking to inspire the next generation of changemakers through the use of technology. She's bringing her passion for representation of diverse, young leaders to the Dell XPS brand to advise on inclusive creative campaigns and curate forthcoming collaborations. EBONY spoke to the thespian and current Harvard undergrad to learn more about how she’s working to inspire Gen-Z to use technology to drive their passions.
EBONY: We've watched you grow up on the award-winning series black-ish as Zoey Johnson and on grown-ish as an actor and a producer; when did you discover your passion not only for acting but also for producing and directing?
Yara Shahidi: As an actress, I have had the pleasure of being a part of numerous productions that respect my voice, but it was early during my black-ish journey that I remember being behind the camera and realizing this is where the magic happens. I really became passionate about producing and directing when we began embarking on the grown-ish journey.
In the past, you've hinted at becoming a historian or going to law school. What are some of your scholastic goals as a college student?
At the moment, my goal is to complete my thesis. While I haven't taken off on the path to be a historian, I dream of rewriting the fundamental ways in which we learn history.
You are genuinely multifaceted and wear many hats, including that of a student, actor, producer, director, advocate, and activist. Can you share the role technology has in your life, especially in balancing it all?
I'm juggling school full-time, running a production company with my business partner and mother, and acting. I'm constantly pulled in various directions and can't always be physically present. Technology helps me wear those hats by allowing me to "show up" for all of my responsibilities and provides me with the tools to get my thoughts out of my head.
Can you share how you started out as an advocate and agent of change? Who are some of your personal heroes?
I was raised with the idea of being of service to the world around you and I work to do that whenever I can. Some of my personal heroes include my grandfather, Kwame Salter, James Baldwin, Dr. Angela Davis, and many others.
Why did you decide to partner with Dell XPS? Can you share more about what the partnership means for you and what it means to "Expand Your YOUniverse" - for yourself and young leaders?
I decided to partner with Dell XPS because their philosophy is aligned with my own—move with intention. Speaking to the tagline "Expand your Universe," Dell's technology creates outlets for our passions and assists in bridging the digital divide. The price point of the device makes it accessible, and the design ensures you're not settling for less even though you're paying less. Since my first meeting with Dell, their excitement to make the best product possible for us has been evident.
What are some of your favorite things about Dell XPS? Why do you feel it's the perfect laptop for creators and changemakers?
The display and the storage make the XPS great for everything from graphic design to video games. Some of my favorite things about the Dell XPS include the touch display, iOS screen mirroring, and the ease of cycling between windows and apps.
You and Dell XPS are also partnering with Ghetto Film School (GFS); can you share more about the goals and spirit of this partnership?
When my mother and I started our production company, we set out on a mission to tell more stories, continue expanding the media landscape alongside our peers, and to keep the door open for other creatives. That mission is at the heart of partnership with GFS. As the program's international thesis advisor, I will guide brilliant young humans based in New York, Los Angeles, and London as they write, shoot, and edit three films in their respective cities.