LOS ANGELES -- Yara Shahidi is a heck of a lot smarter and more socially active than Zoey Johnson. the college sophomore she plays on both ABC's "Black-ish" and Freeform's "Grown-ish." But that doesn't mean the 18-year-old Minneapolis native hasn't learned a few things from her character.

"Zoey gave me the freedom to be indecisive," Shahadi said earlier this week while promoting her series at the TV Critics Association press tour. "We live in a world in which our very bodies are so politicized. And with that comes the importance of realizing every move you make has such a detrimental effect on the world around you, whether you like that or not. So to have the freedom and the space created in which you’re allowed to be indecisive and live your fullest life without those consequences is a step forward in expressing what it means to be brown on screen. We have these episodes in which we just get to live, which is equally as powerful."

Just because Zoey is more likely to obsess on a boy crush than social injustice, doesn't mean the actress doesn't nudge the show's writers to be more socially progressive. Not that they always need it.

Late last year, she popped her head into the writers' room to suggest tackling the dichotomy of male and female geniuses.

"It was already up on the board. They were already writing about it," she said. "So we are already really naturally aligned."

"Grown-ish," which was just picked up for a third season, airs at 7 p.m. Wednesdays.


 

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