The 19-year-old actress has revealed that she tried to take a break from the news because it was upsetting her so much, but she believes that it is important to remain informed about the world.
She told British Vogue: “I have gone through cycles of saying that I wasn’t going to pay attention [to the news] just because it was overwhelming. I was literally falling asleep to political podcasts and wondering why I was having nightmares. But in those moments of going the other way, I saw how important it is to find that happy middle ground. I don’t like floating through the world and not knowing what’s happening.”
The “Grown-ish” actress founded the We Vote Next initiative, which is focused on “how politics relates to each person in their community,” through her Eighteen x 18 foundation and she is hugely impressed with her politically active fellow celebrities, such as Laverne Cox.
She said: “Oftentimes, there’s an expectation that you come to politics; politics doesn’t come to you. There is a lot of political jargon, a lot of assumptions that you have time to go through multiple news sources, that you understand what certain things mean. I feel like first of all, we have to simplify it, just to make sure everyone understands basic structures.
“I’m really lucky that I have so many peers that are politically active and are such voices and I’m grateful that now that this platform is taking off [I will be] able to hand it to other delegates. Laverne, for instance, spoke at my summit [the inaugural #WeVoteNext Summit, in October 2018] and she was incredible. We still hear, six months plus later, how impactful she was to so many people’s understanding of politics.”
Shahidi also revealed she is still learning how to deal with criticism.
She explained: “There are two things: one, acknowledging when it’s constructive criticism and people are in it to help better you; and then understanding when people are just trying to poke at you. I am still learning. Fortunately, I am surrounded by very supportive people. And I think it’s always so counterintuitive when people tell you to have a thick skin, especially in a creative field, because the basis of it is this idea of empathy and deep feeling and energy sharing.”