It’s no secret that stereotypes still persist in pop culture and in the world at large. But Yara Shahidi had some powerful words to help tear down hurtful and confining stereotypes that continue to plague the realm in which she works: Hollywood.
According to the Huffington Post, after the Blackish actress received an award at the Points of Life Conference on Volunteering and Service in June, Shahidi used the moment to deliver a striking speech on the still-present stereotypes surrounding people of color in Hollywood. The Huffington Post says 16-year-old explained the danger of perpetuating a narrow story of people of color, saying that many grow up to believe that “they are an anomaly if they succeed and the expectation if they fail.”
She went on to offer that it is impossible for people of color to believe that they are “valued similarly” when they are continually reduced to narrow-minded stereotypes that are inaccurate portrayals of real people, reports the Huffington Post.
To combat this, the Huffington Post says Shahidi offered a highly plausible solution to the issue: more intentional programming on television that presents a more accurate depiction of certain groups of people. Citing shows like Transparent, Jane the Virgin and her own Blackish, the Huffington Post says Shahidi explained how her character of Zoey helps her to break down oft-perpetuated stereotypes:
“It is through my character and characters like her that the barrier of racism, ageism, sexism and other -isms can be broken down … Art plus activism in any and all forms is a powerful statement that can spread a message that transcends the barriers and limitations of our different realities to reveal the commonality of our shared human existence.”
The takeaway: Art + Activism = Change. Thank you, Yara Shahidi, for such a powerful message.
To watch her entire speech, click here.