Chicago — Yara Shahidi hasn’t been on Twitter in nearly a year and feels better off as a result.
Shahidi, who stars in and executive produces ABC’s “Grown-ish” and is in her final year at Harvard University, said getting off the platform has allowed her “the peace of mind to think through what matters to me and why.”
Before her exodus, that effort was stifled by what she called an internal ‘Twitter Voice,’ which caused her to second guess her choices, she said.
“I have gone to school to further my studies and understanding so that when you hear me speak, it isn’t some shallow ‘hey, I just read about this yesterday. Let me regurgitate what I read,’” she explained in an interview with Marie Claire. “I’ve done my best to even challenge my own beliefs, to become more steadfast in what I believe. What was disarming about this ‘Twitter voice’ was that all of that went away and didn’t matter to me as soon as I heard it.”
The desire to find peace of mind has played a role in the decisions of several Black female athletes this year, who’ve decided to put their emotional well-being before sports. That includes Naomi Osaka, who withdrew from the French open to focus on mental health and Simone Biles who sat out most of the Tokyo Summer Olympics for similar reasons. While there’s been no shortage of criticism about these moves, she’s applauded their bravery.
“I’m so grateful for their decisions, not only to put their mental health first, but to share that journey with us and be public about it,” said Shahidi. “That’s not something that they owed any of us. They took something that happens behind the scenes for so many of us and put it front and center.”
That kind of bravery has also fueled the activism she and others Gen Zers enact change through activism. To her, change in the West will be rooted in grappling with its role in global catastrophes. But she’s inspired by a shift in the way some of those topics are being discussed and the ways her peers are contributing.
“It makes me excited for where we can go,” said Shahidi. “We’re in a time in which we’re no longer settling for reform, but genuine reimagination.”