'As a young black girl with the last name Shahidi who is proud of her black and Iranian heritage, he does not stand for and represent what I stand for and represent.'
As Deadline Hollywood reported in January, an ABC spinoff would focus on Shahidi’s character Zoey Johnson, the family’s eldest child, as she attends college — an environment ripe for political awakenings. EW’s C. Molly Smith caught up with Shahidi at the Essence Black Women in Music event Thursday, and asked her about the status of the project, being an artist in the Trump era, and more. Read the conversation below.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So there’s a potential Black-ish spinoff happening…
YARA SHAHIDI: Potentially.
Where is that at right now? What do you know? How are you feeling about it?
We don’t know much right now. It’s kind of exciting. Let’s see what happens. It’s not happening until you see it on TV is what I like to say, but it’d be really cool to really explore what Zoey would be doing in her college environment because it’s so different from any environment that she’s been in and it really feels like intersectionality in a way that she hasn’t had to deal with it before, being that on a college campus you’re not surrounded by your family as she’s been in the past three plus years, but having to deal with gender and sexual politics as well as race politics alongside everything that’s happening in the world in this election and dealing with those differing opinions.
What sort of issues and subjects would you like to see addressed if it’s to happen?
I mean, I love how Black-ish has done it and I feel like it would follow in a similar formula in that it’d be really approaching your everyday stuff. Zoey lives in a world that’s edited down based on what she likes and dislikes and while she has been really heartfelt, there’s a moment to expand upon her own horizons.
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You mentioned politics. What do you think is the role of the artist in the era of Trump?
The role of the artist is I guess to tell your truth, and I mean I guess without telling other artists what they should or should not do. I feel like my power has been in using my voice to stand up for what I believe. Rather than being anti-Trump, I’m anti-policy… As a young black girl with the last name Shahidi who is proud of her black and Iranian heritage, he does not stand for and represent what I stand for and represent. Neither does his cabinet, neither does his entire administration. So it has been my job to just I guess spread awareness about what we can do to affect change because ultimately policy change is the change that we’re going to see and whether it’s through SNL’s sketches or making phone calls, each [of us can] make an impact.