Yara Shahidi on Getting Out the Youth Vote: ‘Hopefully We See Change Coming This Midterms’

Even before turning 18 in February, Yara Shahidi encouraged Gen-Z to engage politically via Eighteen x 18.

“There are two major problems: information dissemination and voter registration,” the Black-ish star, who is one of PEOPLE’s 25 Women Changing the World, says in this week’s issue.

Though Shahidi, who was accepted to Harvard for this year, believes “anyone who follows me knows where I lean,” her organization remains nonpartisan.

“The information disseminated should allow us to look at each topic at hand and form our own opinions and allow that to determine your partisanship, rather than the other way around,” she says.

And Shahidi won’t let backlash over actors, musicians and athletes getting political stop her from speaking out.

“If your very body is being politicized, you have every right to speak up and should be able to utilize your platform,” the Minnesota native asserts. “It’s not a matter of being an actor or an actress, but being a human that’s concerned and affected by the world at hand.”

In September, Eighteen x 18 hosted its first #WeVoteNext summit in Los Angeles so Shahidi could directly connect young people.

RELATED VIDEO: Meet the Inspiring Women Demanding Action on Gun Violence Prevention

“It was a nice group of kids because each state was represented,” the actress says. “It was a moment to actually talk to each other about what we want to see in our political system, in this midterm election. So rather than me saying, ‘I’m the voice of Generation Z or somebody who knows every single person in my peer group,’ we actually got to talk to each other and figure out what we wanted and what we needed and take local approaches.”

Shahidi, who comes from a family of educators, thinks the motivation for young people to vote starts with learning history — but admits that the current curriculum has its flaws.

“I feel like often times, you’re only told about your government in your U.S. government class or U.S. history, and even still, it’s of the government of the 18th century. How does that even apply?” she asks. “Having learned a very Euro-centric history, often times there is no correlation between us and our duty to the people around us. I think that history should be restructured. And those classes should be restricted to be more inclusive.”

For full coverage of PEOPLE’s 25 Women Changing the World, pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday

But with early voting numbers already breaking records, the Grown-ish actress remains optimistic about the future. “I’m inspired that hopefully we see change coming this midterms,” Shahidi says. “My goal is that it’s a culture that’s here to stay.”


Fashion Deals Update:

Jaclyn Stapp’s Blog: I’m in the Home Stretch of My Pregnancy – and (Hopefully) Headed to the Hospital Soon!

Jaclyn Stapp is going to be a mom – again!

The wife of Grammy winner Scott Stapp is currently expecting their third child and second son together, whom they plan to name Anthony. The couple are already parents to Daniel Issam, 7, plus daughter Milán Hayat, 10. Scott, 44, also has a 19-year-old son named Jagger.

The Creed and Art of Anarchy rocker recently wrapped a solo tour, and is writing new music during his downtime. Former Miss New York USA Jaclyn, 37, is focused on CHARM, her nonprofit charity that provides education and support to underprivileged children.

The spouses revealed to PEOPLE exclusively in June that they will welcome another baby into the family, and shared gorgeous photos from their elegant “Royal Prince”-themed baby shower in October.

You can follow Jaclyn on Instagram @jaclynstapp and Twitter @mrsjstapp.

Want all the latest pregnancy and birth announcements, plus celebrity mom blogs? Click here to get those and more in the PEOPLE Babies newsletter.

RELATED VIDEO: Another Baby on the Way for Scott Stapp and Wife Jaclyn: “This Is a Huge Surprise”


Are we there yet? Well, not quite. I went from 1 centimeter to 2, and now it’s 3! “Three centimeters, do I hear 4? Four centimeters?” Sounds like an auction!

The numbers drive me nuts because they don’t match how I feel. While this sweet child wants out, his kicks and turns — not to mention his pressure on my bladder at 2 a.m. — remind me of how ready I feel to welcome him to the family.

For more coverage, follow our babies magazine on Flipboard.

RELATED: “It’s a … ” Watch Scott Stapp and Wife Jaclyn Reveal Sex of Baby on the Way to Their Kids on Stage

But we’re not quite there yet. However, there is good news and very good news!

Good news is that the baby is healthy, Daddy and kids went through the drill with the hospital tour, everyone is manning their stations, the school is notified about Milán and Daniel’s pickup, we’ve called the pediatrician and we are now standing by, very ready for Sir Anthony’s arrival.

The very good news is that God almighty is great — I still have energy! How? I can’t explain it, but I have been packing and unpacking, sometimes over-packing, then repacking. It’s even funnier with big sister and brother helping me pack and sort out the baby’s clothes.

More from Jaclyn’s PEOPLE.com blog series:

Jaclyn Stapp’s Blog: A Pregnant Girl’s Guide to Eating, Feeling Good and Curbing Those Cravings
Jaclyn Stapp’s Blog: The Power of Prenatal Yoga in My Third Pregnancy
Jaclyn Stapp’s Blog: My Tips and Tricks to Having Healthy Skin While Pregnant
Jaclyn Stapp’s Blog: Back to Bottles and Diapers – and How I Told Scott and Our Kids About My Surprise Pregnancy

I could swear it wasn’t this complicated packing for our two-week vacation last year. The nursery is ready, the house is safe, everything is child- and drool-proofed again. It seems like the total interior of the house is padded. Lord help me when it’s time to remove the sticky padding or the cabinet locks that chipped my nails — and especially the fort-looking baby gates that the dogs hate!

Nonetheless, Anthony is sitting cozy, hugging me tight. I imagine he will suddenly decide at 3 a.m., just as I get back in bed positioned comfortably and fall asleep into deep REM, he will decide to make his grand entrance. It’s okay — I have been as ready as a fireman for that alarm. I’m on autopilot, ready to jump into my boots and head to the hospital. Just in case, I even have Uber on speed dial.

I have been called a rough tough cream puff, and I can do this. Right now, baby is holding on, taking his time, while I am ready to make time!

FROM PEN: Jada Pinkett Smith Gets Emotional Over Children Jaden and Willow


RELATED: Prince in Waiting! Inside Scott and Jaclyn Stapp’s “Royal” Baby Shower – and What They’ll Name Their Son on the Way

The excitement is building up, and family and friends are waiting for the ball — I mean baby — to drop! Aunts, uncles, cousins and Grandmom all want a piece of Anthony. He feels like a 10-pounder, so I am sure there will be enough of him to go around.

I am just hoping after he is born, my scale will reflect that 10 lbs. plus, and that I can learn to go back to eating for one again! I can’t wait to be able to look down and see my toes again.


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