Actress Yara Shahidi's Journey as an Executive Producer


Dec. 2 2023, Updated 1:33 a.m. ET

In the vast realm of Hollywood, where the landscape often seems dominated by seasoned professionals, one name stands out as a beacon of youthful brilliance – Yara Shahidi. She is the young force behind the scenes making waves as an executive producer. Two years ago, at just 21, she began redefining what it means to be a Hollywood power player.

You may have seen her on-screen, but now she shapes narratives behind the camera. Yara’s impact extends beyond acting, proving that age is just a number in the production world.

Unleashing the Power of Young Minds

Yara Shahidi's achievements are not measured merely by the projects she has under her belt. They echo in the cultural impact she has made. Young creators now have a role model who not only breaks glass ceilings but hands out blueprints to build their own.

Her influence reaches beyond the screens, infiltrating boardrooms and inspiring a generation to take charge of their narratives.

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From ‘Grown-ish’ to ‘Smoakland’: Her Evolution as a Producer

You may know her as Zoey Johnson from her first big project in the hit series Black-ish, but she did not stop there. yara took a daring step into the executive producing world through her spinoff series Grown-ish in 2018.

Grown-ish was not just being a regular show. It symbolized the struggles of youth facing the challenges of college life. Yara, as an executive producer of the show, was more than a mere formality of her professional responsibilities. She ensured that truthful stories were emphasized and not compromised.

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“Something that was always really important from literally Season 1 of black-ish was figuring out how to continue to give Zoey dimension,” Yara told Refinery29. “She came in as the typical teenage daughter that was uninterested. We were really intentional trying to figure out what storylines show more depth — she may seem self absorbed, but she's also extremely driven and has these other qualities about her.”

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Additionally, the show was popular among the younger generation and stimulated discussions on issues of identity, sexual relations, and social standards.

Fast forward to 2023, and we have the comedy series Smoakland, which is not only a notch on Yara’s professional belt but also an indicator of her commitment to diverse storytelling.

Smoakland uncovers the complexities that accompany a young girl’s pursuit in the cannabis business. Yara takes on a modern topic but is highly controversial, demonstrating her fearless attitude in telling compelling stories.

More Than a Star: A Force for Change

What sets Yara apart is her commitment to authenticity. In a world where glitz, gloss, and glam often overshadow substance, she is a symbol of sincerity. Her projects are not just meant to entertain. They are crafted with a purpose, each frame carrying the weight of a narrative that needs to be seen and heard. In an industry where diversity can sometimes feel like a checkbox, Yara is turning it into a celebration of unique perspectives.

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Her journey into executive producing is about personal achievement, yes, but it also declares her intent to reshape Hollywood’s future. As one of the youngest executive producers in the industry, she is shattering age-old norms and making room for fresh voices.

For her, it is about breaking barriers, dismantling the entire structure, and rebuilding it to be more inclusive.

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