Yara Shahidi “Imagine That” Interview Hollywood Blvd. Woodridge, IL

The long line outside Hollywood Blvd. Theater in Woodridge, Illinois looked endless as I approached the entrance with staff writer Jessica Aymond. Mobs of little girls, boys, and parents were waiting eagerly and patiently to get a glimpse of Yara, the new Hollywood star. Sarah’s Backstage Pass was in attendance to conduct an exclusive interview with Yara and manage a Q&A before the family movie “Imagine That.”

“Imagine That” Premiere held at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood, California on June 6th, 2009. Eddie Murphy, Yara Shahidi

Both of Yara’s proud parents were escorting her that evening. Upon meeting 9-year-old Yara, one can’t help but notice her bubbly personality. She’s full of life and absolutely charming. At nine years old, she has the wisdom of a much older child and the ‘wit’ as well. We chatted about books as she is an avid reader and her favorite subject: history. Yara is the same age as the students that I taught during my 20 years as a gifted literature teacher. We clicked immediately! It was an enjoyable evening as I was about to spend the next few hours with a delightful new star and her nurturing down-to-earth family.

Yara Shadidi and Sarah Knight Adamson interviewing before the film, “Imagine That”

Rave reviews from Chicago film critic Roger Ebert…….

I started the interview by informing Yara and her family of the great news as Roger Ebert had written about her in his film review column that day. He pointed her out in his review, “Imagine That,” and gave her glowing acting reviews.

Roger Ebert Quotes, Chicago Sun Times June 11, 2009:

“Eddie Murphy’s new family comedy “Imagine That” is a pleasant, unassuming fantasy in which a high-powered investment adviser gets advice from his daughter’s imaginary friends. We never see the friends, but we see a great deal of the daughter, in a charming performance from newcomer Yara Shahidi”.

Roger Ebert continues:

“Apparently, she really is 7, and her previous experience is limited to three episodes of “In the Motherhood.” She’s a natural. I never caught her trying to be “cute.” She played every scene straight and with confidence, and she’s filled with personality.”

Yara replied, “That’s very nice, but what’s a film critic?” I told her it’s a job that people do, and in fact, that’s a job that I myself do. When I go to a film, I look for all the good and bad things about a movie; acting, story-line, scenery, directing and lighting just to name a few. I further explained that it is similar to a book report that she might complete in school, “Oh yes, she replied, I get it now.”

Next, I asked her, what do you like best about acting? “Well, all of the new experiences and traveling to new places,” she replied.

Can you tell us any funny or exciting moments you had while filming, “Imagine That”? Yara replied, I usually beat Mr. Eddie to set, and one day when I saw his car just driving around, I didn’t think he was around yet. I heard a ton of snickering, and just then, I knew that was Mr. Eddie, he was sitting on the couch laughing.

Sarah’s Backstage Pass Staff member Jessica Aymond and Yara Shadidi

Do you see any similarities between the character you play, Olivia, and yourself?

Well, she’s very creative with her clothes patterns, and I like all of her choices. If she has problems with something, we both make sure it gets down. But I’m not as sassy as her. It’s fun to go through different emotions that I barely go through at home.

So you never yell at home, I asked?

Oh, no, never! In fact, my throat was horse after all of the screaming scenes.”

LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 28: Actress Yara Shahidi arrives at Nickelodeon’s 2009 Kids’ Choice Awards at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion on March 28, 2009 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

I was also wondering about the filming of “Salt,” is it true that you’ve been filming in New York? 

Yes, that is true, I have a cameo part with Angelina Jolie I play her neighbor. Angelina asks me to babysit her dog, but the rest is classified information, and you’ll have to go see the movie to find out any more.”

Stay tuned for further news about Yara as next week we willpost questions with Jessica and from the Hollywood Blvd. Q&A session!

Sarah chats with Yara
Sarah Knight Adamson Q&A Yara Shahidi after the movie “Imagine That.”

Sarah Adamson © June 11, 2009