Yara Shahidi Points Out "Precisely What's Lacking" in Media Representation

Yara Shahidi Speaks at the Cartier Women's Initiative


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Cartier doesn't just say it supports women; the iconic brand puts its money where its mouth is. Since 2006, the Cartier Women's Initiative has awarded over $3 million to female entrepreneurs and their businesses. For 2021, Cartier assembled a top-notch lineup for a three-day digital summit this week, culminating in the announcement of this year's eight laureates.

My favorite part of the summit was the inspiring conversation between Yara Shahidi and Erica Lovett, Cartier's head of diversity & inclusion North America. On the topic of representation in the media, Shahidi provided some background information about how she was raised and how her upbringing formed her approach to storytelling as an actress and producer. 

"The women in my family, both Iranian and Black, helped form environments of inclusivity," Shahidi said during the summit. "I come from a family of educators. I come from a family that revels in community. So having that as an example, I walked into the world feeling armed to take on anything that came my way. I was raised to believe that not even the sky's the limit. I had that example in front of me."

Shahidi went on to explain how she wants to take that sense of inclusivity that she experienced growing up and translate it to the projects she's working on. "If this is the impact that representation has had on me, how can we put that in media? It's not about creating superhumans, because we know that can be a trap as well. We know being villainized or heroized doesn't allow for humanity. So many times, especially if you're a woman of color, that's precisely what's lacking in people's understanding of us: the ability to have our entire humanity expressed."

Watch the video to hear Shahidi's entire conversation at the Cartier Women's Initiative, beginning at 6:17:00, as well as other stirring discussions. 

Video: Cartier Women's Initiative