Yara Shahidi, plays the role of young Olivia Pope on ABC’s hit show “Scandal” and plays a role on ABC’s Family series, “The Fosters.” If that wasn’t enough she will be in the new ABC fall Series “Blackish” too.
She has also starred in the film “Butter” a few years back. When she is not acting she is helping others in major way. This past spring break she traveled with her mom to do charity work. She has also begun putting #WeCareBags together to hand out to the homeless population while in Jamaica. Here is my interview with the young and talented actress.
Art Eddy: You play the role of young Olivia Pope on the ABC hit show “Scandal.” How did you get involved to be on that show?
Yara Shahidi: My agent and manager saw that “Scandal” was on the lookout for a young Olivia. My manager read the character description, young, studious, book smart, confident. She called me, saying ‘Yara, this character is you.’ Of course, still I had to audition.
AE: What was the audition process like?
YS: It was super simple, actually. Lindsay Lowey, the casting director for “Scandal,” was super nice and had me come into the room and just act as if I was getting ready for school. I happened to bring a book I was reading for fun, with me. It was the “Autobiography of Abraham Lincoln.”
AE: How is it to work with Kerry Washington and the rest of the cast?
YS: It was amazing working with Khandi Alexander and Joe Morton. My mom was telling me about their amazing careers after I finished working with them. I couldn’t believe that I got to do very emotional scenes with both of them. It was like private acting lessons. Since I was playing the young version of Kerry Washington, we weren’t in any of the scenes together. Unfortunately, she is the one person that I will never get to be in a scene with. But, Kerry made a surprise visit to set just to see me. I almost fell off of my chair!
AE: What has been your favorite moment from being on that show?
YS: Simply working with such amazing talent.
AE: You are also on the show “The Fosters.” Tell me about your role on that show?
YS: This is a cutting edge show, and it’s great to be a part of it. My character Maddie is a classmate of Jude and Conner’s. We are typical teens, dealing with friendship, emotions and boy crushes!
AE: It seems like you have a great resume so far for someone of your age. How did you get involved into acting?
YS: My mom is a commercial actress and she would bring me with her to auditions. I quickly began working alongside her and then, as she says, I did what all kids should do, dreamed bigger. When I was seven, my agent asked if I wanted to audition for a movie with Eddie Murphy. I only knew him as the voice of Donkey from “Shrek,” so I thought that was cool!
AE: Was there a moment that you can remember where you were inspired to become an actress?
YS: It was when I was on set for the movie “Imagine That.” The director, Karey Kirkpatrick, encouraged me to have fun, to play, and to really let loose. He really inspired me.
AE: What would be a role of a lifetime for you?
YS: There are a few. I am manifesting guest starring on “White Collar.” I love intellectual crime series. Also I would love to work alongside more of my idols like Saoirse Ronan, Denzel Washington, Courtney B. Vance, to name a few, in a dramatic film. Right now I am working with my comedic idols, Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross on our new show “Blackish” on ABC. And did you know that Laurence Fishburne, who is such an amazing dramatic actor, is super funny too! Working with them is like receiving private improv lessons!