Yara Shahidi, you grew up in front of the camera. What do dresses have to do for you?
Editor in the "Life" section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.
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In my personal life, fashion has always been a form of self-expression for me. My parents kindly allowed me to express myself visually at every stage: there was a time when I refused to wear trousers and only wore skirts and ankle-high sneakers. Or the one when I only wanted to wear school uniforms. I still have school uniforms from schools I didn't even attend. Recently, there was a phase when I only wore jogging suits. A lot of actors enjoy about 50 percent of the things they do outside of filming: the red carpets, getting dressed up, and so on. I enjoy this from start to finish. Sometimes I dress like the person I want to be, and pieces that give me confidence help me do that.
What would such a self-confidence piece be?
My glasses. One is very thick and black, one is frameless and almost disappears. It makes me feel like a respected gentleman.
Speaking of men, do you talk to male colleagues about fashion?
Yes, but they take so much less time to finish. When I mention that it took me a few hours, they reply: Really, I started half an hour ago.
Max Mara and the Women in Film Foundation are now honouring you with the "Face of the Future Award". Why is this important?
Because this award puts the spotlight on the kind of industry we most want to work in. With women, the industry is more progressive, and the stories are more diverse. Ultimately, it shows that Max Mara also takes women's stories seriously.
What kind of image of women is circulating in Hollywood in post-MeToo times?
Before, there was always this fear of a wrong step. For many, this meant that they could never do the work they wanted to do. The fact that someone has so much power to be able to make an actress disappear into oblivion is absurd.
In the meantime, there are many more female producers and directors in Hollywood.
Yes, the power that women now have behind the camera also liberates us in front of the camera. I mean that in terms of how we can present ourselves in this world. I benefit greatly from the fact that so many women have put their careers on the line for the betterment of this industry. And the movies are getting better, too. In the past, it was the case that a female figure should be as broad as possible so that as many people as possible could see themselves in it. Now people finally understand that it can only be about the superficial stuff and a prototype of a woman is shown that doesn't even exist. Real life stories tell a lot more about what it means to be a woman.
You've been raising your voice for a long time: you spoke out against him in Donald Trump's first election campaign, when you couldn't even vote because you were only 16 years old.
This is largely simply due to the conversations that have been part of my dinner table at home for years. My grandparents were already active in various social movements. Then when I became more famous and people asked me questions, I happened to have a few answers because I had thought about it for a long time. I was treated as an activist before I could even really think about things. I was 14 at the time, and that's an interesting attribution. That's why studying was important to me.
You graduated from Harvard last year with a degree in sociology and African-American studies.
The four years at university were an important time for me to understand what kind of work I wanted to do privately and when I would like to perform it on the public stage. It's a double-edged sword today: if you don't share something on social media, people get the impression that you don't care. If you share too much, it seems like you're just taking care of everything. I had to learn that – and also that it's okay to be insecure. In this world, it's easy to feel the need to have a clear stance on everything. But it's also okay to be 23 and not be sure.