Yara Shahidi on Bonding With Halle Berry Over Being Disney Film Stars

Yara Shahidi is getting the best preparation for her role as Tinkerbell, thanks to her Grown-ish co-star, Halle Bailey! 

The 21-year-old actress chatted with ET’s Leanne Aguilera about her transformation for Disney’s upcoming live-action Peter Pan and Wendy film and said, although Bailey hasn’t let anything slip about her work as Ariel in the studio’s live-action Little Mermaid, the two have spoken about their respective roles in the upcoming Disney films.

“We’ve talked about how crazy the motion capture process is of playing characters where it’s your real-life expression but so much of it is digitized and it’s such a crazy experience,” Shahidi shared, adding that she admires the other actress. “But other than the logistics of it — she isn’t the weakest link and she’s not going to let any of us know what is happening in The Little Mermaid. I just love whenever we get to hear updates and, like, she is killing it.”

Peter Pan and Wendy hails from director David Lowery (Pete’s Dragon) and stars newcomers Alexander Molony and Ever Anderson as the titular duo alongside Jude Law as Captain Hook.

Shahidi shared that production for the film is already underway, noting that “it’s been really fun bringing that to life and pretending to be five inches tall.”

The star also dished on Grown-ish‘s fourth season, which will feature a lot less of Bailey’s character Sky since the actress has been away filming. But Shahidi assured ET that Sky will still appear in the season, saying, “I love the fact that we were still able to incorporate Sky because she’s always apart of the family, but also cheer her along and she’s on her own adventure right now.”

https://youtube.com/watch?v=ZHJMz8xKbUI%3Ffeature%3Doembed

The show’s fourth installment will follow Shahidi’s Zoey Johnson back at Cal U for her senior year after her adventures on the road as a professional stylist. But things won’t go as smoothly as she’d like, even though she and Aaron (Trevor Jackson) are finally in sync, romantically. Just as things seem to be coming together, it all comes apart at the seams. 

Grown-ish has often touched upon real-life topics, and season 4 will continue to tackle the issues faced in the real world, including the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of police brutality. Shahidi and her co-stars are well-known for using their platforms to speak out against social injustice, but she credited season 4’s handling of the subject all to the writers. 

“I think as we all have big personal platforms on which we make our voices known, it’s markedly different from even what our characters things and how our characters are participating in such a movement. And so I feel like these episodes were a culmination of who we’ve gotten to know our characters to be and using that as an entry point to explore the many ways in which we react to the Black Lives Matter movement,” she explained. “And the reason that’s important, and that’s something that we talked about prior, is that in this past year we have really acknowledged the fact that it’s not that these systems are broken. These systems are working precisely as they were meant to be and that’s a big shift in public sentiment.”

“I think the writers leveraged the fact that every single character has such a distinct voice that we got to go into the minutia of what it means to theoretically support equity but think that it comes in the form of police enforcement,” she added. “[What it means] to theoretically support equity, but have a negative reaction and criminalize people that are looting rather than criminalizing or looking at the situation that we’re in as precipitating all of these actions. So I love that fact that through our characters we got to explore all of those angles or what it means to have a growing opinion.”

It’s a conversation and a journey that Shahidi believes is “worth it” for the series and her character’s growth. “I feel like we finally see why she had to go through so many obstacles when you see who she’s becoming,” she said.

Grown-ish airs on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Freeform. 

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