Actress and philanthropist Yara Shahidi recently sat down with SiriusXM host Jess Cagle for The Jess Cagle Show. During their conversation, the Black-ish star opened up about studying on Harvard’s campus as a celebrity — to which she remained without a roommate because of how unappealing she made herself seem.
When asked about her experience studying at the Ivy League while most students knew who she was, she said, “My freshman year, I had a good time all around, but for sure…it went to being neutral, slash ignoring me, to the point where I’d be waving at folks. They’re turning the other way. Here I am just trying to make friends.”
She added that during her freshman year, she was promoting a movie and would often deal with having her images plastered all over campus on magazine stands.
“I think what was funny is, I had like three magazines on our Harvard newsstand or like at my local CVS,” she said. “I would always look crazy when I pulled up to the point where they’d be like, ‘That can’t be her on the Cosmo cover. Like, that can’t be.’ They’d look at me and then look at the cover and then look at me and like, ‘No, that’s not her.'”
Although Shahidi was a celebrity on campus, she did meet friends during her sophomore year that made her feel “normal” to some degree.
The class of 2022 graduate shared, “It really wasn’t until my sophomore year that my close friends that I developed told me like, ‘Yeah, they don’t freak out when you’re here, but as soon as you leave people are like, oh, she was just here. She was just seen with so-and-so.’ It was really only my friends that I think got the brunt of it.”
One may think that a celebrity student would be placed in their own dorm room and have personal security the entire semester; the 23-year-old debunked those claims. The Peter Pan & Wendy actress made it clear that although she is famous, she still was subjected to match with a roommate. And as far as security, only “diplomatic, national or international security things,” get that kind of treatment.
“Now I did make myself sound like the worst roommate,” she revealed upon finding someone to live with for the semester. “And so I lived in a single cause I was like, ‘I wake up at 6:00 AM. I listen to podcasts and I don’t like anybody interrupting it.’ I have no tolerance for shenanigans. Like I just made myself sound super miserable.”
She added, “I made myself just sound like no fun. So they placed me by myself.”
While on campus, she admitted that not only did her birth parents regularly come check on her, but also her TV parents Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross would, too.
“Everyone [had] a key,” she revealed. “I did like freshman year, lived in a dorm and ended up moving off campus. Otherwise they [Harvard] really don’t accommodate you all that much. You’re just an actor, like go live in the dorm.”
Watch Yara Shahidi and Jess Cagle’s entire conversation below.