As she accepted an award for philanthropy at the Points of Life Conference on Volunteering, Yara Shahidi delivered an eye opening and incredibly conscious speech about the value of representation in the media, art and TV.
The 16-year old Black-Ish actress, who is of Iranian and African American descent, called out Hollywood’s top players by mentioning that a lot of programming has been determined by what “a few people” seem to be is believable.
Shahidi even called out the effects of representation on children, “Good, bad or indifferent, TV helps define our collective reality. And if a child grows up never seeing themselves represented as successful or as the hero, then they are the anomaly if they succeed and the expectation if they fail.”
Her solution, and call to action, was that we must work to create intentional programming by creating characters that are complex and “reflective of true human nature”. Greys Anatomy, Black-Ish and Jane the Virgin are all steps in the right direction, and we must continue on this path of creating characters that are colorful and full of diversity. The co-existence of multidimensionality is possible!
We see you, Yara!
Check out the full speech below: