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Why Yara Shahidi is the face of Generation Z?

Nadja Beschetnikova
March 27, 2018

First of all, let's define the terms. While some had just figured out millennials, there’s the next generation on its way.

Generally speaking, members of Generation Z, or the post-millennials, were born between 1995 and the early 2000s. Generation Z are predominantly the children of Generation X, and they have been strongly shaped by their individualistic, self-reliant parents.

Generation Z is one of the first cohorts to have Internet technology readily available at a young age. While Millennials can remember the dial-up internet, Generation Z was born into a world overrun with technology. On a personal level, Generation Z seeks immediate validation and acceptance through social media. Small wonder, that we may expect a burst of online activity.

Generation Z is the generation that will finally strengthen the role of e-commerce, and maximally reorient all marketing and advertising strategies to online platforms.

Or, I better say, these are the factors that brands need to consider to be successful in interaction with the future consumers. We may experience a massive shift in advertising methods and marketing messages, let alone the rise of numerous newcomer among Instagram influencers.

In between acting and ruling red carpets, the young Generation Z celebrities fight for everything from equal pay for women, environmental change, and the safety of students.

And Yara Shahidi, 18, is one of the most striking examples to illustrate this phenomenon. Born in Minneapolis, she grew up in Los Angeles, as her family relocated when she was four. Her mother is a commercial actress, and her father is a cinematographer, so Yara’s way to show business was probably predetermined. In 2014, she landed the role of Zoey Johnson on Kenya Barris’s ABC sitcom, Black-ish.

But unlike many starlets, she stays grounded and pokes fun at the film industry. «Hollywood isn’t moving anywhere», she said, putting her passion for education over fame.

She became a Harvard student and announced her decision on Instagram with a quote from James Baldwin: “The paradox of education is precisely this—that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.”

Her college recommendation letter was written by none other than Michelle Obama. Shahidi attracted attention due to her social activism, and it seems she’s going to grow professionally in this field of activity.

«I’m excited to go into social studies. Hollywood has proved that it changes so often, so I’d rather spend the time on something like social studies that has personally been a passion of mine for so long,» Shahidi said.

Recently she attended March For Our Lives rally in Los Angeles, where she inspired young people to reclaim the right to safety. Hundreds of thousands of students, activists, and supporters turned out for rallies against gun violence across the country on March 24, 2018.

Young people demand an “end to the epidemic of mass school shootings and to call on lawmakers to prioritize the lives of young people nationwide”.

Turnout was estimated to be between 1.2 to 2 million people in the United States, making it one of the largest protests in American history.

Yara invited people to join the movement in a very Gen Z way - of course via Instagram, where she shared an original poem called «When a gun has more rights than you». She spoke at the event along with several other celebrities including Willow Smith, Jaden Smith, and Amy Schumer. Yara wore a sand-colored hoodie that said: 'you matter.'

We are witnessing our generation, actively come together, in a global conversation, demanding action from lawmakers to invest in and assure our right to safety,” said Shahidi in a statement

Shahidi perfectly combines being a role model for both political stand and style. In 2016, she signed to model with New York's Women Management modeling agency, in hopes of providing a platform to see more women of color in diverse roles. And soon after speaking at the March, she sparkled in a minimalistic yet eye-popping outfit at Kids' Choice Awards.

White jacquard top and high-waisted shorts adorned with black dots are from the Spring 2018 Collection by Rasario, the glamorous Russian brand loved by many celebrities. Unlike many designers who focus on unisex oversized outfits, Rasida Lakoba puts the emphasis on femininity.

«On a personal level, I think dressing is such a form of expression and when you do events, it’s important to feel as though you are authentically yourself. Maintaining a sense of your personality grounds you in your space, I try and just make what I wear a reflection of how I feel at that moment, at that particular place in time,» said Shahidi on her personal style evolution.

Though, for Shahidi fashion is not only a way to express own taste in clothes, but also a statement.

It's why I wear a ton of political T-shirts because I get to wear things that state my political opinions. Fashion is associated with an ideology.

She successfully embodies all the qualities that are attributed to the Generation Z. She is an early starter, she is a multitasker, and, of course with her wisdom and maturity in actions, she is very individual.