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Emory’s Carter Town Hall to feature actor and producer Yara Shahidi
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Sylvia Carson
Executive Director, Media Relations
illustrated graphic of Yara Shahidi

Yara Shahidi, breakout star of ABC’s “black-ish” and executive producer and lead of “grown-ish,” will be the featured speaker for Emory’s 42nd Carter Town Hall, set for Nov. 6. The event honors the legacy of President Jimmy Carter, Emory University Distinguished Professor.

Award-winning actor and producer Yara Shahidi, the breakout star of ABC’s “black-ish” and executive producer and lead of “grown-ish,” will be the featured speaker for Emory University’s 42nd Carter Town Hall, scheduled for Monday, Nov. 6.

The Carter Town Hall began in 1982 when former U.S. President Jimmy Carter became an Emory University Distinguished Professor. For 38 consecutive years, Carter himself was the keynote speaker, offering his wit and wisdom in response to student questions. Now, the time-honored tradition gives Emory students an opportunity to engage in interactive dialogue with internationally known speakers.

“Yara Shahidi is beloved the world over for her on-screen performances, and she is also building a legacy as a humanitarian, using her voice to elevate important causes,” says Emory President Gregory L. Fenves. “She has brilliantly displayed both ambition and heart — the qualities that define our Emory community — and I know our students look forward to hearing her poignant and hopeful message.”

Offscreen, Shahidi is a champion for inclusive media programming and an advocate for equity. She has received numerous accolades for her work outside of entertainment, including being named to TIME Magazine’s 30 Most Influential Teens, Forbes’ 30 Under 30, British Vogue Forces for Change, Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year and Essence Magazine’s Black Women in Hollywood.

Inspired by her extensive work with former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, Shahidi founded Eighteen x 18, now called WeVoteNext, to shine a light on Gen Z and BIPOC inclusion in the political process. She graduated from Harvard University last year with a bachelor of arts degree in Social Studies and African American Studies, with a concentration in Black Political Thought Under a Neocolonial Landscape. 

“We are excited to have Yara Shahidi, an advocate for inclusivity and equity, at the Carter Town Hall this year,” says Paige Alexander, CEO of The Carter Center. “She’s committed to engaging young people in the political process and helping strengthen the fundamental principles of democracy held by President Carter and Mrs. Carter. I hope Emory University students will be inspired by her words and continue this legacy of compassion and participation in our democracy long into the future.”

In 2019, Shahidi and her business partner and mother, Keri Shahidi, signed a multi-year producing deal with ABC under the moniker 7th Sun Productions. Currently, she serves as executive producer and lead of Freeform’s “black-ish” spinoff series, “grown-ish.” Shahidi also achieved a historic milestone starring as the first black Tinker Bell in Disney's live-action adaptation "Peter Pan & Wendy."

A sought-after public speaker, Shahidi has appeared in conversation with thought leaders including Harry Belafonte Jr., former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Dr. Cornel West, Oprah, Tory Burch and Georgia’s own Sen. Raphael Warnock.

Emory and President Carter

Emory’s ties to President Jimmy Carter and The Carter Center go back to the center’s genesis and remain vital today. More than 40 years after its launch from a temporary office on the 10th floor of Emory’s Robert W. Woodruff Library, the post-White House institution of Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, operates peace and health programs around the world with Emory as a key partner.

Named Emory University Distinguished Professor in 1982, the same year The Carter Center was founded, the former president holds tenure in four Emory schools — Emory College of Arts and Sciences, Oxford College, Candler School of Theology, and Rollins School of Public Health — reflecting the breadth of his impact on numerous fields.

Thousands of Emory students have fond memories of Carter’s many visits and lectures in classes across a wide range of subjects, as well as the annual Carter Town Hall, a beloved campus tradition. With his retirement from public life, the town hall has continued with speakers including Jason Carter (2020), the president’s grandson, former state lawmaker and chair of The Carter Center Board of Trustees; civil rights icon Ambassador Andrew Young (2021); and soccer star and social justice advocate Megan Rapinoe (2022).

Attend the Carter Town Hall

Carter Town Hall is a ticketed event for students at Emory University. While for many years the event focused on first-year students, the 2023 town hall is open to all Emory University students. Registration is required.

Register here.

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