PORTER’S Incredible Girl of the Year, teen icon Yara Shahidi graces cover of summer issue
Actress and activist Yara Shahidi talks to the award-winning global fashion magazine PORTER about her topical new movie ‘The Sun Is Also a Star’, centering around a young girl who falls in love on the day she is due to be deported; her feelings about identity and belonging, and her hopes for her (and humanity’s) future:
A defining mark has been this desire to be undefined and to have some autonomy over self in terms of saying, ‘This is how I identify. And I should have the right to live freely.
Hailed by Oprah Winfrey as the girl she hopes will one day be president, Shahidi, the 19-year-old actress, star of TV shows Black-ish and Grown-ish as well as producer and activist, was the undeniable choice for PORTER’s Incredible Girl of the Year and first ever teen cover star. Called the “voice of the next generation” by Michelle Obama (the former First Lady wrote her college letter of recommendation for Harvard), Shahidi is photographed by Cass Bird and styled by Elissa Santisi for the cover of PORTER’s Summer issue (on sale April 5) and is seen in a series of playful images capturing the innate free spirit of the Gen-Z beauty.
The teen sensation talks to PORTER about how her parents told her she could do anything:
I felt like my family had already achieved much of the impossible and I grew up being like, ‘Of course I can do this or that!
Next month Shahidi will be seen in ‘The Sun Is Also a Star’ playing Natasha, a Jamaican teenager whose family is being deported but whose 11th-hour meet-cute with a Korean-American boy forms the backbone of the narrative. She tells PORTER, “Xenophobia is very prevalent and it’s something that Natasha deals with in this journey – New York is the place she considers home, but the city does not consider itself her home. It’s that strange paradox of, ‘How do I feel so strongly attached and how have I done everything to contribute to the world around me and my community and my city, and that same respect isn’t given to me?’ I love the way this film examines that duality.”
Shahidi is a beacon for hope the world over and, of course, a fitting icon for PORTER’s second Incredible Girls issue. We can all take a lead from the young and it feels particularly apposite to focus on the courage, energy and radical possibility of Generation Next.
In the issue, Generation Z gives PORTER a health report on their 21st-century world while the title celebrates its second Incredible Girls list, featuring 25 girls aged 14 to 25; from budding space travelers and musicians, to athletes and future presidents. The issue also announces the launch of the Incredible Girls of the Future competition. Together with YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP, PORTER is asking the innovators of tomorrow to bring their love of fashion and technology together to dream up a fashion-inspired app with ‘change for good’ at the heart of its design.