Since its premiere in 2014, the hit comedy series ”Black-ish” has received acclaim from both fans and critics for its authentic portrayal of what it means to be a black family in America. Now, with Freeform’s spin-off “Grown-ish,” actress Yara Shahidi hopes her work will continue to normalize diversity on and off-screen.

“It’s about more than changing the conversation,” she tells Mediaplanet in February 2018, just weeks after receiving news that Grown-ish had been renewed for a second season. “It’s about being able to normalize these conversations; making people aware and cognizant of them so they no longer seem outlandish or out of the ordinary.”

“I come from a very socially aware family — a family of humanitarians,”

Exploring diversity on campus

The college-set comedy explores the social issues and complexities facing both students and educators today. Off-screen, Shahidi has used her influence to speak out about Hollywood’s racism, sexism and diversity problems.

“I come from a very socially aware family — a family of humanitarians,” she explains. In an interview with Blavity, she elaborates, “I talk about this a lot. I like to preface it with diversity is more than just race. Race is a large component of it, but it’s also making sure different sexual identities, different gender identities and different religions are represented."

Celebrating Black History

In light of Black History Month, Shahidi hopes directors will continue using film and television to highlight diversity in a meaningful way. In a panel discussion at the first-ever Freeform Summit, she explained:

“There’s so much history that has been left out intentionally that we are now regaining. And I think with that regaining comes a certain pride in oneself and pride in one’s past that we haven’t had, and with that we are armed with the knowledge to carry on.”