It’s GLAMOUR UK’s 20th anniversary and yes, for two whole decades the mag has been championing women and campaigning for equality and justice. In order to mark the milestone, we get to see the grand return of the GLAMOUR Women of the Year Awards – albeit virtually.
The actress was photographed by her father, Iranian-American, Afshin Shahidi, cinematographer and long time photographer of famed musician Prince.
“In a year of great change, we are thrilled to be celebrating those who have incited change, not only in their chosen fields, but also on the world stage: altering the conversation through activism and empowerment. This is why we’ve named 2021’s Awards: The Gamechangers,” says GLAMOUR UK Editor-in-Chief, Deborah Joseph.
The GLAMOUR Women of the Year Awards is internationally recognised in honouring extraordinary and inspirational women from all walks of life: politicians to pop stars, actors to athletes and past winners have included: Serena Williams, Angelina Jolie, Adele, Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Hudson.
Actress and activist Yara Shahidi since emerging on our screen with the character Zoey the eldest daughter of Tracee Ellis Ross’ Rainbow Johnson on hit Golden globe winning comedy Black-ish seven years ago, at age 13, years later her own spin-off Grown-ish in its third season, the movie star has continuously used her voice for change – raising awareness of several noteworthy causes; from racism to female education, needless to say, at almost 21, the force has racked up an impressive list of awards and accolades and now, she adds another award to her list of achievements: GLAMOUR’s Women of the Year New Gen Gamechanger award!
Recently, Shahidi landed the role of Tinker Bell in Disney’s remake of Peter Pan. The Harvard University undergraduate started at the school after Michelle Obama sent a letter of recommendation (they have continuously appeared together promoting girls’ education). She founded her own platform, Eighteen x 18, that seeks to uplift a new generation of voters to ensure their voices are heard, and in collaboration with Young Women’s Leadership Network of New York, she has also created Yara’s Club, providing online mentorship in the hope of eradicating poverty.
In a chat with Josh Smith, she talks about a year like no other for social change and journey to learning to advocate for herself – ‘I’ve tried to push through the discomfort of standing up for myself’, success journey and much more.
Reflecting on juggling her role at Black-ish with other responsibilities:
“At the age of 17 I was on Black-ish, in school full-time and juggling many responsibilities. While I enjoyed myself, there are times where I made my commitments feel too serious, instead of just being able to live in the moment. This is where I’m grateful to have a family who has always emphasised that we work hard and play harder because without them, I would have been wrapped up in my own little bubble.
I didn’t necessarily step back to take the time to consider, ‘Yara, you are doing a lot for your age, you should give yourself space and flexibility considering that you are working full-time, and you’re pouring in to both of these as much as you possibly can.’ I would say that to me at 17, I think it could be helpful. Even for me now, I do the same thing at times. Part of being a multi-hyphenate is allowing yourself to feel the flow of energy, trust that you will intuitively put your energy into what you need to and to not be hard on yourself.”
On managing success and failure and defining them?
“For me, success has been defined by my family, not let’s say, a job well done or in those traditional senses. But really has this been an experience of growth? Am I satisfied with what I put into that experience? I have found success in many different areas, but often not in the areas that are expected.
It’s really not something we discuss often in our family, the idea of failing. The one thing that we do refer to is Einstein’s definition of insanity, ‘Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’
On something that felt at the time to be a failure or negative in your life, but retrospect had a gamechanging effect?
“One of the things that I’ve tried to push through is the discomfort of standing up for myself. One of my goals is to be able to advocate for myself as well as the other people around me. Moments that I would address as failures are those moments in which I decided that it would be easier to have lower standards, or to be OK with something that does not fit my needs.”
On hope for women in the entertainment industry in the next 20 years?
“While we have begun to crack the surface of inclusivity, there is still so much work to be done. I hope that in the next 20 years we accept the task of totally re-imagining the system to be more equitable. We should imagine, ‘how do we enfranchise creators of many intersections to feel like they have ownership over their projects and figure out ways to ensure that sense of ownership?’ I’m particularly excited for more global conversations on womanhood, and that gets rid of the narrative of connecting in spite of our differences, but because of our differences.”
“We’ll continue to nuance what ‘feminism’ looks like. It’ll continue to nuance ideas, what allyship looks like and of what united coalitions look like and I think media can lead the charge because in many ways we have depended on art to begin to imagine worlds that we have yet to imagine.” Yara Shahidi says.