Fact: Yara Shahidi will forever be cooler than us. The star has been killing the sitcom game as Zoey on Black-ish for almost four years now, has the most impeccable sense of style, was accepted to every school she applied to (including two Ivy Leagues), had Michelle Obama write her college recommendation letter, and most recently, joins Kristen Bell and Leslie Odom Jr. in Fossil's Fossil Firsts campaign.
The campaign was unveiled at The Wing, a women's-only club in New York City, and Shahidi is joining the brand to embark on a series of inspirational talks, delivering words as strong and pointed as the cobalt blue cat-eye she wore to the event.
Though she started wearing makeup after being cast as Zoey four years ago, her appreciation for it as an art form came after some self-growth of her own off-screen. "I was 13 when I started on Black-ish, so at the time, wearing a full face of makeup was new to me. This idea that I put on lashes and blush and all sorts of stuff to get ready for the day, that became my normal—this was Zoey's normal, so it became Yara's normal," she tells InStyle. "I realized that I became a little dependent on it, and I didn't feel finished unless I had my makeup on. Through a lot of teaching, un-teaching, and re-teaching, I learned how to love makeup, have fun with it, but not feel totally dependent on it."
VIDEO: Yara Shahidi Shares Her Behind-the-Scenes Stories
Shahidi's own mother had a hand in the transformation, as she always taught the star to use cosmetics as a form of expression, and although she won't think twice before donning a bright lip or floating orange eyeliner, she maintains balance between each of the dramatic effects. "I try not to do both at the same time because one thing I'm aware of is that I can look older very quickly, and I like being 17," she says. "I love playing with different colors and the freedom to play around that makeup gives me, but I love feeling 17 and looking 17 while still having a ton of fun. I don't feel like it makes or breaks who I am anymore, and being able to say I feel confident with no makeup on as much as I do with a full face is really empowering."
When she isn't working, Shahidi usually opts to go foundation-less, and relies on both makeup wipes and rosehip oil to keep her skin in check after a long day on set. "It's great because it keeps my skin hydrated—DJ Khaled did say hydration is the major key to success, and if DJ Khaled said to hydrate, you better listen," she adds.
Though she and Zoey have similar wardrobe tastes—Shahidi confeses she wants to grab every piece from Zoey's closet—they differ when it comes interactions with their mothers, and their eyebrow preferences. "It's so funny because my character doesn't have a unibrow, but I secretly like mine," Shahidi tells us. "It's always a little struggle where I'm like, 'Okay, I know you can see it on camera, but can we keep this little hair here?'" At least for Shahidi's off-screen persona, bigger is definitely better in the brow category.