'Black-ish' star Yara Shahidi on spin-off 'Grown-ish' and being a young activist

PHOTO: Yara Shahidi, Anthony Anderson, Marcus Scribner appear in a scene from the show "Blackish."PlayKelsey McNeal/ABC
WATCH Yara Shahidi talks balancing teenage life and acting career and partnering with #LikeAGirl campaign.

On "Black-ish," Yara Shahidi plays a very astute and confident young woman, dealing with the issues any teenager faces growing up today, including social media, getting into college and, of course, dating.

But the show also follows Anthony Anderson's character, Dre, as he tries to educate his children, including Shahidi's Zoey, on right and wrong and acceptance in the current political climate.

From police brutality to Donald Trump's election as president, nothing is out of bounds on the show.

So with this weekend's events in Charlottesville, Virginia, where violence broke out between those protesting the removal of a Confederate monument and counter-protesters, Shahidi, who admits she's learned a lot working on the ABC series, said what's important here is "context."

"Charlottesville, while it's terrifying and horrific and saddening, it's not surprising," she told ABC News on Wednesday. "Especially when you look at the history of our country."

Shahidi called herself a history buff and said she feels very fortunate to not have barriers to entry in the education world.

"I feel like I have had a great privilege in not having those barriers, not stopping me from learning abut my country, not stopping me from asking certain questions," she said. "Ultimately, my activism stems from this idea that I feel safe in my space and safe enough to go out on these other ventures."

She added that investing in this generation, especially through education and activism, is crucial to create "changemakers," in hopes of preventing future incidents like those of this past weekend.

During the riots, a 32-year-old woman Heather Heyer was killed after a man drove a car into the crowd of counter-protesters.

"We are living in a day and age, where we need our voices especially with what's happening in Charlottesville," she continued. "It's really applaudable the students that were at UVA [counterprotesting what was going on]."

Shahidi is channeling this sense of activism, partnering with Always for the company's "Like A Girl" campaign. The idea behind "Like A Girl" is to remove the stigma of failing.

The young actress believes, through experience, that failing can actually build confidence. One story that has stayed with the future Harvard student was when she got her first C in high school.

"For me, it was the biggest deal," she said. "I [thought I] wasn't going to get into any schools, no one was going to like me because they would know I have this C on an English paper."

She continued, "My goal now is not to be perfect anymore."

This newfound sense of self is something she will bring into her "Black-ish" spin-off "Grown-ish," which will focus on her character's move out of the house and into college.

"What's exciting about 'Grown-ish' is it's very specifically focused on the Generation Z experience," she said. "I feel like college campuses are highly politicized right now. And to be in that kind of environment, especially when Zoey has grown up in her perfect socioeconomic, liberal bubble ... those are kind of going to be shattered and she has to figure out who she is in the larger context of the world around her."

She said fans should expect to see a different side to Zoey.

"To have a moment where Zoey is actually unsure of herself is really big, because she is this confident character," she added. "While every other character may be spazzing out, she's the one person who is really calm and seems like she has everything together."