On Monday, Yara Shahidi chatted with SiriusXM host Jess Cagle on The Jess Cagle Show. During their conversation, Shahidi discussed her experience studying at Harvard University as a celebrity, specifically how she could go under the radar.
“It really wasn’t until my sophomore year that my close friends that I developed told me like, ‘Yeah, they don’t freak out when you’re here, but as soon as you leave, people are like, ‘Oh, she was just here,'” she said.
The actress was accepted into Harvard University in 2017 with an application that included a letter of recommendation from former first lady Michelle Obama. Shahidi also revealed to People magazine she was accepted to Stanford, Yale and Spelman.
“I always knew I was going to go to college — that was the one definitive thing in my life,” she told Byrdie for its March digital issue.
As Shahidi spoke with Cagle, the grown-ish actress reflected on how she wasn’t accommodated in any way because she was famous.
“You’re just an actor, like go live in the dorm,” she said with a laugh.
According to Vogue, the 20-something balanced dual academic tracks across the social studies and African American studies departments as an undergrad at a prestigious Ivy League institution. Her concentration, “Black political thought under a neocolonial landscape,” culminated last spring with a 136-page senior thesis.
Her paper “I Am a Man: The Emancipation of Humanness from Western Hegemony Through the Lens of Sylvia Wynter” explores the Jamaican writer’s work and larger questions around the topic.
“My thesis was a moment to connect these past four years of education to something that connects to what I’m passionate about and have ground myself in my entire life,” she told Vogue.
The black-ish and grown-ish actor is now enjoying life as “alumn-ish,” having graduated from Harvard University in May 2022.
“I’m at an exciting phase where I’m coming to terms with just how much more life there is to live,” she said of her life now that she has left the Harvard experience, which she has dubbed her “selfish season,” Byrdie reported.