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Actress and Harvard student Yara Shahidi talks activism, politics in Porter magazine summer issue

Actress Yara Shahidi arrives at the 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on Jan. 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Actress Yara Shahidi arrives at the 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on Jan. 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images/Getty Images

Harvard student Yara Shahidi, star of the upcoming film “The Sun Is Also a Star,” tackles some big issues in the summer issue of Porter magazine.

In an interview and accompanying photo spread, the 19-year-old “Black-ish” actress explores topics as weighty as identity, youth activism, and politics.

“I’ve seen so many people around me inform politics through cultural ways,” she says, “and I think that’s the route I’d love to take when I look at people whom I’m fortunate enough to call mentors.”

(It’s perhaps not surprising that two years ago, Oprah Winfrey called the young actress/activist one of the “most profound 17-year-olds alive.”)

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Shahidi also shares the personal relevance of “The Sun Is Also a Star” (both the book and movie), which is about a teenage girl named Natasha who falls in love with a boy on the same day she is being deported.

“Reading that book hit close to home in terms of immigration being a part of my story,” Shahidi tells the magazine. “What felt parallel to me was Minnesota, where I was born, being the place that I’d most definitely consider home, but at the same time also struggling with nearby St. Cloud proposing a Somali ban. Xenophobia is very prevalent and it’s something that Natasha deals with in this journey — New York is the place she considers home, but the city does not consider itself her home.”

“The Sun Is Also a Star” hits theaters May 17. 


Lillian Brown can be reached at lillian.brown@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lilliangbrown.