While Freeform’s Grown-ish debuted earlier this year to rave reviews for its progressive commentary, viewers noticed that its cast lacked dark-skinned actors. One episode even addressed colorism in the form of dating, but viewers and writers publicized their concern with the show’s racial makeup.
As season 2 is reported to premiere in 2019, its lead actress Yara Shahidi revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that she stressed to the show’s creator, Kenya Barris (Black-ish), to “cast actors with a wider array of skin tones” (per journalist Lacey Rose). The topic of colorism in Hollywood has remained at the forefront of production and casting, specifically when one of Shahidi’s peers, Amandla Stenberg shared why she declined a role in Black Panther.
“These are all dark skin actors playing Africans and I feel like it would have just been off to see m [sic] as a bi-racial American with a Nigerian accent just pretending that I’m the same color as everyone else in the movie,” she said to CBC Arts.
In her THR cover story, Shahidi also stated that she wants equal opportunities for young people in a world where the news cycle may box them out of current events. “The knowledge disparity stems from the fact that news isn’t marketed to me and my peers,” she said. “It’s as though it doesn’t pertain to us, even though half of these policies that are being implemented will affect us. We know people who are immigrants, we know people who are undocumented.”
While Shahidi works on a podcast tentatively titled 18 x 18 with Yara Shahidi (where she’ll interview other women pioneers from Hollywood to Capitol Hill), the 18-year-old Harvard University student will focus on obtaining degrees in sociology and African-American studies. Shahidi plans to make education a focal point of her future with goals of opening a high school and revamping the country’s U.S. education system. “My dream of dreams is to create some form of alternate curriculum that is inclusive of all people.”