You might know her as Zoey Johnson – the TV character who grew from an entitled, materialistic teen concerned mostly with fashion and the number of social media followers she garnered into a more complex young woman navigating the perils of college life on the hit show Black-ish and its spinoff, Grown-ish.
What you might not know is that Yara Shahidi, the 20-year-old actress who plays the mostly apolitical Zoey, is a longtime change agent for social and charitable causes. And in contrast to the relentlessly popular character she plays, Shahidi is a “total nerd,” as she puts it.
“I’ve been that person that had a Thesaurus right next to me when I was little,” she said in a recent interview.
Shahidi these days is combining those two traits to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She challenged her Black-ish costar and TV mom Tracee Ellis Ross to a long-running game of Scrabble GO, an online version of the popular board game that can serve as a vehicle for fundraising. Proceeds, based on Shahidi’s final score, will go to St. Jude.