How Yara Shahidi Gets Ready for the SAG Awards

Channeling Michelle Obama with a secret stash of chocolate and Tracee Ellis Ross’s advice.

How Yara Shahidi Gets Ready for the SAG Awards

Dream run-ins with Oprah and Edward Norton. Same. Spirit animal as ocelot. Same (who knew?). Secret chocolate stash. Same. Hanging out with Yara Shahidi as she got ready for the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards—in a stunning striped floor-length Naeem Khan and Swarovski jewels, and with hair slicked back as inspired by Josephine Baker—made us realize this was probably the most we’ve ever had in common with a 16-year-old. But, beyond all the aforementioned commonalities, all it takes is one conversation with Shahidi and you’ll realize (real quick) that she’s wise beyond her years—more than we ever were at her age. Just keep reading below to see what we mean. Spoiler: There’s a Michelle Obama cameo (sorta).


Her wake-up call:

“The first thing I do [in the morning] is listen to one of my playlists! Today, I listened to James Blake essentials.”

Her beauty lead-up:

“[Before a big appearance] I cleanse my hair extremely well, deep-condition and then add a layer of Mielle Organics Almond oil. I wash my face with a gentle cleanser like Malin and Goetz grapefruit cleanser or Burt’s Bees foaming face wash.”

What she can’t stop listening to:

“I am a last-minute kind of gal! I will read or listen to a podcast until I absolutely need to get moving. Three hours is usually a good amount of time for me to get ready.”


Michelle Obama inspired her look:

“This is the fun part! I collaborated with my stylist, Ade Samuel. We talked about what was inspiring me, what the weather would be like, and even what music I’m into at the moment. Tonight I wore a dress by Naeem Khan, in part [in] honor of Michelle Obama, as he has dressed her on numerous occasions.

“The dress is colorful, beautiful, flowing, and unique. I love lots of rings and simple earrings—a little shine and sparkle go a long way.”

On her beauty look for the night:

“This is such a collaborative moment, because we discuss what we have done and what we want to try. Collectively, we throw ideas in a hat and look for guidance from both Ade and our hairstylist. My mom and I make the final decision. Josephine Baker was tonights inspiration!”


Her many influences:

“What a long list. James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Kurt Vonnegut, Janelle Monet, Ira Glass... The list goes on!”

Her spirit animal:

“An ocelot! They may be small, but they are fierce!”

Her pre-game track:

“Today was ‘Golden’ by Jill Scott.”

Last minute bag stash:

“I always grab a snack for my purse. Chocolate, to be exact.”


What she’s learned from Tracee Ellis Ross:

“Tracee has demonstrated that grace and connectedness are vital to enjoy the moment.”

Her dream run-ins:

“Oh my goodness! I would say Oprah and Ed Norton.”

And what she would say to them:

“Thank you for continuing to clear the path for me as an actor and as a fellow human being.”

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