‘Everything You Think Is True’: Yara Shahidi Honors Her Family History With Prince

Yara Shahidi attends the 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 21, 2018, in Los Angeles.
Yara Shahidi attends the 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 21, 2018, in Los Angeles.
Photo: Emma McIntyre (Getty Images for Turner)

Many know Yara Shahidi as the adorable and irrepressible Zoey Johnson on Black-ish’s hit spinoff, Grown-ish, but fewer know about her roots as a Minneapolis girl—like myself—and her ties to our most famous fellow native.

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Shahidi’s father, Afshin Shahidi, was Prince’s longtime personal photographer and videographer, capturing the star in both intimate and iconic moments from the time they first worked together in 1989. In particular, Afshin documented much of the last 15 years of Prince’s life, which were immortalized in the 2017 book Prince: A Private View.

Two years after the star’s sudden death in 2016, the Shahidi father and daughter returned to Paisley Park, Prince’s famous recording and performance studio and onetime residence in Chanhassen, Minn. In a series of video vignettes for Vogue, the two reminisce over their unique history with Prince and the legacy he’s left behind.

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“He was such a piece of my life that I didn’t question it,” Yara says.

She was clearly also a piece of his; one of the sweetest moments captured is a moment in Prince’s former office, where Yara gazes upon a framed childhood headshot of herself. Upon it, she’d written, “To Mr. Prince, [heart symbol] Yara.”

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, an avid eyeshadow enthusiast and always her own muse. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.

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I miss him.

I love Prince. I snuck into a movie premiere so that I could see him live. I used to work in music, and I had a friend who worked for Def Jam, so I used to hang out with Russell Simmons, Andre Harrell and other folks in that circle. One night while hanging out at my friend’s house playing video games another friend (Friend 2) dropped by to tell us he was going to see Prince. My friend asked if Prince was having a secret concert in New York? Friend 2 explained that Prince was playing at the after party for a movie premiere and knowing we were major Prince heads he invited us to come along – only he didn’t have an invite. We were going to have to sneak into the Roseland Ballroom. We didn’t much time to get there so we left as is – Timbos, baggy jeans, and big sweaters. We mapped out our plan in the cab. Friend 2 was going to enter through the back door since he knew all of the bouncers. We used a different approach, we marched up the front entrance and told the folks checking invites that we were guests of Russell and my friend whipped out her Def Jam business card. Although we looked out of place, they looked for our names on the guest list. When they didn’t find our names, my friend offered to call Russell to confirm. The bluff worked and they let us into the party.

Inside were tables covered with white linen, candles and crystal. Everyone was dressed for the red carpet except for us - we looked like a bootleg version of TLC. Waiters did double takes as we scooped up champagne and caviar canapes. When Prince who was still married to Mayte came out to “Pussy Control”, we ran up to the stage. Three songs in I realized we were the only ones there and the party guests were politely seated at their tables. We were so close I caught some of Prince’s sweat. After the show, we ran into Russell who asked, “What the fuck are you two doing here?” Probably because the only black folks he expected to see that night were in Prince’s band. We told him he got us inside (along with how we did it) and he had a good laugh and offered to introduce us to Prince. I almost passed out. We went down into the tombs and into a dressing room where Prince was relaxing after the show. I remember Jamie Foxx joking about not looking into Prince’s eyes because he will hypnotize you. Truth. Russell introduced us and there was a long uncomfortable silence. Prince, “So how’d you like the concert?” I was stuck, frozen and all I could think of to say was “Dearly beloved”, but I didn’t. We found our tongues and told him how much we loved it, and Prince replied, “Good cause Y’all made my night.”

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