Exclusive: Yara Shahidi On Her Craft, Celebrating Love, And Being A Cartier Ambassador

The actress and activist also talks about celebrating diversity.
Published: July 9, 2024
Yara Shahidi On Her Craft, Celebrating Love, And Being A Cartier Ambassador
Photo: Courtesy of Cartier

Yara Shahidi is exceptional. Though the world watched her grow up as Zoey from the highly acclaimed and award-winning series Black-ish, and its spin-off, Grown-ish, the 24-year-old multihyphenate is so much more than just an actress.

As a teenager, she founded We Vote Next, an active platform that’s focused on engaging youths to vote. Ever mindful to use her voice and fame for good, she has delivered speeches about equality and activism, spoken on panels alongside global leaders such as former US president Barack Obama, and continues to work closely with NGOs and social enterprises. In 2017, Shahidi was accepted into Harvard University, where she majored in African American studies and sociology. Her application to the university came attached with a letter of recommendation from former First Lady Michelle Obama, no less. In 2020, she entered a new stage in her life with the founding of 7th Sun Productions, a production company that keeps her busy behind the camera with projects concerning history, heritage, culture, social change and joy.

Related article: A Night To Remember: Cartier Trinity’s Centennial Celebration With Jackson Wang In Shanghai

Yara Shahidi On Her Craft, Celebrating Love, And Being A Cartier Ambassador
Photo: Courtesy of Cartier

Related article: Cartier Celebrates 100 Years of the Trinity with Ambassadors Blackpink's Jisoo, Jackson Wang, and More

She’s inspiring and electrifying, which explains why brands have consistently pursued the Gen Z icon, not least Cartier who has signed her up as its global brand ambassador—just in time to celebrate the centenary anniversary of its Trinity collection this year. She shares her thoughts on love, diversity and reinvention, and how Trinity speaks to her personally.

Related article: Yoyo Cao Reflects on Her Decade in Fashion, Branching out Into Beauty, and What’s Next

What do the three intertwined rings of Trinity represent to you?

Trinity represents the harmony and enrichment of diversity. These separate elements are more complex and beautiful together than they would be apart. They balance each other out, in a way that makes each one shine brighter. Trinity inspires a sense of connection that makes it easy to form an emotional bond with. It’s so essential to feel that, and I think that’s what makes Trinity an enduring favourite.

Yara Shahidi On Her Craft, Celebrating Love, And Being A Cartier Ambassador

 Trinity ring (medium) in white, rose and yellow gold, CARTIER.

What memory does Trinity bring for you?

When I think of Trinity, I immediately think of myself and my brothers because there are three of us, and Trinity, as a jewellery collection, also originated from three siblings. So to me, I think of our closeness and the fact that so many of my favourite mementoes growing up have been things that have celebrated my relationship with my brothers—I have so many things with our pictures on them or our birthstones. And so, to see the three interlinked rings reminds me of the life that we get to share together as three very different people who will always come together.

How do you celebrate love and diversity in your life?

I think it’s very natural to be a person who cares about the world, and [to be] in the world means that not only are you going to experience a lot of love but also diversity because everybody brings something so different to your life. The beauty of the age that we live in is that we live in such naturally diverse communities. If anything, I think it takes more curation and confinement to live in a world that isn’t diverse. I’d have to say I’m pretty lucky to be surrounded by people of so many cultures, walks of life, and identities. The different ways I celebrate are not only by just being a good friend, continuing to learn more about my friends, and showing up, but also through the work of our production company, 7th Sun, which I [founded] with my mother Keri Shahidi. So much of the work we do there is a celebration of diversity, it’s a celebration of the love that we have for one another and the stories that blossom from it.

Yara Shahidi On Her Craft, Celebrating Love, And Being A Cartier Ambassador
Trinity Cushion necklace in white, rose and yellow gold, $5,000, CARTIER.

How do you wear your Trinity?

I love the bangles! The first time I tried one, it was so clear why it was a cult piece. The fluidity and the noise that it makes in movement is so satisfying. I love that it replicates the ring exactly but on a grand scale.

The new Trinity has reinvented itself by shifting its shape entirely. How do you relate to this ability to reinvent yourself?

I never wanted to be pigeonholed in my career, and reinvention is something I’ve cultivated, from my first acting role at nine years old to becoming a student at Harvard and exploring the world of film production. There are so many things I want to accomplish and so many stories to tell, and each one needs to be approached in a different way—that multiplicity is powerful.

Yara Shahidi On Her Craft, Celebrating Love, And Being A Cartier Ambassador
Trinity Cushion ring in white, rose and yellow gold with diamonds, $68,000, CARTIER.

Name a creation or project that you’ve been involved with that you hope will celebrate a hundredth anniversary?

This is actually quite timely because I just celebrated 100 episodes of my show Grown-ish, which means that in the six years we’ve been on, people have tuned in time and time again, and we’ve hit such a major milestone. So a hundredth anniversary actually means so much to me because I think it not only represents the community that we’ve gained along the way, but the beauty of creating a piece of art that feels everlasting and that will always have an audience. So it’s very special to be involved in two one hundredth anniversaries.

What does the word icon mean to you?

It means forever, it means instantly recognisable, and it creates an emotional connection.

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