Video: Here's what you don't yet know about Yara Shahidi
When most people leave university, they’re interning, trying to find their first job, or even just starting to think about what they’d like to do as a career. Not Yara Shahidi. A year after graduating from Harvard, the 23-year-old actress went from the role of student to Tinker Bell in the new Disney film, Peter Pan & Wendy.
It’s an important part in the remake of the classic tale – not least because this is the first time an actress of colour has played the character – but Shahidi has taken it in her stride. “Not only is she the Tinker Bell that has the fierceness and feistiness that we know and love, but she has a lot to say,” she tells Bazaar in the latest episode of our series, What You Don’t Know About Me.
Despite her age, Shahidi is already a seasoned industry professional, with roles in the sitcom Black-ish and film The Sun is also a Star (for which she was nominated for a Teen Choice Award) already on her CV. When she was just seven, Shahidi starred opposite Eddie Murphy in Imagine That, an experience she describes as a seminal career moment. “It made me realise that this is what I wanted to do,” she says. “It definitely changed the trajectory of my life.”
If she hadn’t been on screen, Shahidi is adamant that she would have stayed in education and become a history professor. “That’s still not off the table!” she says, laughing. “I’ve always loved history, and I have such a deep love of the classroom, I couldn’t think of a better job. I also come from a family of educators.”
It goes without saying that Shahidi has a drive and professionalism that far outweighs her years, but despite beginning her career at an early age, she doesn’t fit the stereotype of an overworked child star. Instead, she has a down-to-earth attitude, which she partly attributes to her upbringing. “The best piece of career advice I’ve been given would have to be from my parents,” she says. “They always reminded me that Hollywood isn’t going anywhere. Being grounded in that advice means I’ve been given the space to go and explore my other interests.”
It’s led her to develop plenty of other passions, from reading (“I have quite a cool book collection”) and listening to her favourite playlists (“music drives so much of my life”) to taking time out for holidays with friends. Then, there’s her unexpected devotion to watching the kind of beauty videos that would make many baulk. “My guilty pleasure? Dandruff-picking videos. That is not one I share often! I’d be a dermatologist just for dandruff and psoriasis.”
Watch our full video interview with the actress above, in which she shares what she’d tell her younger self, her (very surprising) party trick and the self-care routine she loves.
‘Peter Pan & Wendy’ is available to stream on Disney+ from 28 April.
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