ABC’s Black-ish is now in its fourth season and the show’s teen star Yara Shahidi just launched her own spin-off titled Grown-ish on sister network Freeform. Young viewers have fallen in love with Shahidi from her time on the series headed by Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross and they are loving her strong, outspoken real-world presence as well.
As Deadline details, Grown-ish debuted on Freeform on January 3 with two back-to-back episodes and the series provided the network with its biggest comedy series launch in over five years. The Black-ish spinoff will deliver 13 episodes in this debut season and it is generating plenty of buzz as it pulls in highly-desirable demographics for the network.
Yara Shahidi continues in her Black-ish role of Zoey Johnson as she leaves home and tackles her freshman year at the fictional California University. Grown-ish naturally draws comparisons to the series A Different World, the Cosby Show spinoff that ran from 1987 to 1993, but this Freeform series is clearly in a world of its own and viewers have a hunch it’ll continue to be a stellar performer.
Prior to playing Zoey on Grown-ish and Black-ish, Shahidi appeared in a number of other television shows and movies. These prior roles included a two-episode gig as a young Olivia Pope in Scandal, playing the character of Chloe Johnson in The First Family, and portraying Darci on Trollhunters. The Minnesota native is half-black and half-Iranian and she turns 18-years-old in February.
The Grown-ish star recently appeared on Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show and Shahidi impressed everybody during the interview, including Noah himself. Yara has been accepted to Harvard, but she has deferred for a year so she can focus on her Black-ish spinoff. Former First Lady Michelle Obama wrote one of Yara’s recommendation letters for Harvard, and Shahidi notes that expectations run high in her family as she has one cousin who is an astronaut and another cousin happens to be the rapper Nas.
Shahidi isn’t just opinionated on Black-ish and Grown-ish. She’s a fierce activist in real life, even though she’s still a teen, and she is determined to make her mark in big ways. For example, Yara is heavily involved in the Eighteen x ’18 project that is working to engage young people to get informed and vote for the first time in the 2018 midterm elections.
Being passionate about political issues is nothing new for Shahidi. The Grown-ish star notes that she has extended family on her mother’s side that was involved with the Black Panthers, and people on her father’s side were involved in the recent Iranian protests. Yara is outspoken about the current Trump administration, detailing that their decisions have a real-life impact on her own family, and she aspires to work in the non-profit sector down the road to be “policy-adjacent” to what is happening on Capitol Hill.
Yara may be taking some time before beginning her freshman year at Harvard, but she already has her studies planned out in detail. She will major in social studies, a path that pulls together sociology, anthropology, history, economics and political science, and she will do a second major in African American studies.
Will Grown-ish continue to be a breakout hit for Freeform and how far will Yara Shahidi go as she embraces adulthood and continued political advocacy? The star’s fans cannot wait to see where things head next as she sets the world on fire.