Exclusive: Yara Shahidi on the Grown-ish Finale and Plans For Season Two

Posted on Mar 29, 2018

By Natalia Buia

Freshman year for this college comedy gets an A+. grown-ish, a spin-off of black-ish, has distinguished itself as must-see TV for teens and adults alike. We spoke with the star of the show, Yara Shahidi, to discuss the surprising yet tender finale and what could be in store for season two.

[Warning: This interview contains spoilers]

Congrats on the show! Season one was amazing. I read creator Kenya Barris say that the cast helps the writing staff with stories. Was there a poignant storyline that you pitched yourself?

It really was an open dialogue between the writers and the cast. The writers do such an amazing job cultivating those storylines having been people who are in college now or experienced it. Really, it was less about informing exact storylines but more so helping inform our characters. I remember my first time sitting with the writers it was rapid fire questioning but they were asking for my opinion as Yara but then saying “now what would Zoey say?”.

Are you surprised with the way the finale went down: Zoey picking Luca in the end? There’s gonna be some uproar! Some of us were Team Aaron….

It’s funny because this again goes back to the show being a collaborative experience. Kenya told me beforehand, before I got the script, so I wasn’t bamboozled at the table read. It may not make sense to every viewer and of course some “teams” will be disappointed. But our conversation about how we came to that was a back-and-forth dialogue among all the girls on the show.

I think it really came down to – at least in my mind – who has treated Zoey with the most respect? I go back to the third episode where she dates both of them [Luca and Aaron] and the fact that Aaron played her completely. There’s something about that episode where even I as Yara felt a little protective of Zoey so moving to the finale of who to choose, it was one of those moments that made most sense. They have a separate relationship outside of the group.

How will this decision of hers affect the group dynamic? Is Cash still going to be around, and will Aaron manage to remain her friend?

Of course I think when dynamics shift amongst two people, the entire friend group does shift to a certain extent. Just knowing over the episodes how close each person has gotten to one another and knowing that more than the relationships that Zoey has, but seeing the building of other relationships like Ana and Nomi’s or Vivek and Aaron – those have really established that we’re tight knit in more than one way. The friend group doesn’t necessarily revolve around Zoey. They can exist with or without one person which is kind of what life’s about!

One of the biggest themes of grown-ish is there’s always room to learn. Zoey has really evolved from black-ish to grown-ish and with everything that transpired in season one. What do you hope Zoey learns more of in her sophomore year?  

Now that the love stuff’s handled, I’m really excited for her to go to more than two classes. I’m not only excited for the literal learning she’ll be doing in season two but I think where season one leaves us is that she’s developing her own identity outside what she’s learned from her parents. The finale episode stems from her needing to be decisive. I’m really looking forward to how that decisiveness informs her decisions and how she maneuvers. I’m looking forward to her owning the space around her and allowing herself to guide the situation.  

Now, in real life you’re double majoring in Social Studies and African American Studies at Harvard. But grown-ish also got picked up for season two with a 20 episode order. Is it safe to assume the rest of 2018 will be jam-packed for you?

That is a fair assumption! I don’t even know what the end of this year will look like but I’m looking forward to juggling it all. What grown-ish has done is it brought such a tight-knit group of people. So outside of enjoying the show we’re all on, we really invent in one another so even if it’s double the work than we’re used to, it’s going to be so much fun.

That’s nice to hear. Because every episode of grown-ish is titled after a popular song, what song title would you use to describe the cast & crew?

I’d say…Positive Vibrations by Bob Marley!

One last question and it’s super important and serious: How exactly does Zoey fit all her fabulous outfits into a tiny dorm room closet?!

This is a question I’ve been asking since episode one! My assumption is that because her family is an hour away, she goes back and picks up clothes and rotates them in her closet [on campus]. That’s how I’ve justified it!

If you missed the season one finale of grown-ish you can catch up online or on VOD