Yara Shahidi wears many hats — actress, entrepreneur, activist — and this holiday season, she’s adding expert gift wrapper to her repertoire. Shahidi stars in our Holiday 2018 video, “That’s a Wrap,” where she shows off her sensational wrapping skills and, shall we say, gumption for gift giving. The witty film was conceptualized and written by Rashida Jones and produced by Majority, an all-women production company that launched earlier this year. Below, we catch up with the renaissance woman who tells us about her time on set and what’s on her wish list this year.
On a scale of 1-10, what are your actual gift wrapping skills?
On a scale of 1-10, I’m a solid 7. I definitely have some skill. You’d be impressed by my innovative thought in terms of those big gifts. I’m good at that, but I’m not excellent. There’s a lot of excess tape used in my wrapping.
Did you learn anything about wrapping when on set?
Yes, basic knowledge of geometry is imperative! Wrapping is a series of angles, shapes and tape skills!
Any tips on how to wrap a beautiful present?
My best tip is to find a friend who also has gifts to wrap and make it a special time to connect! Even if the gifts aren’t perfect, they will be filled with the spirit of love.
What are the best and worst presents you ever received?
There is no such thing as a bad gift! My pocket watch. My typewriter. I was given a signed copy of James Baldwin’s Go Tell it on the Mountain. Those are probably top 3. The funniest gift I have received was Sasquatch slippers that growl when I walk.
What are the best and worst presents you ever gave?
I tend to think I’m a decent gift giver, but when I was in elementary school, I gave a friend a grocery bag filled with gently used toys…and an old pencil.
What’s on your wish list for the holidays this year?
Books, books, books! Time with my family…Sunshine and beach time…Time with friends! A nice new cozy sweater! There’s a lot happening in the world… I also wish for world peace, in the least-cheesy way. It’s really what I want.
What is your favorite family holiday tradition?
For Persian New Year — Nowruz — there’s a ritual of jumping over the fire to cleanse yourself, giving the fire all of your ailments and, in turn, getting life and joy in the New Year.
How will you be spending your holidays this year?
The Shahidi holidays never end. You may think it’s just December, but it really lasts. There’s New Year’s, my birthday, my brother’s birthday (which is also Valentine’s Day), my other brother’s birthday, Persian New Year a week after that…. You only get a month off, then more birthdays, so it’s really about how I’d like to spend the year. I’d like to spend it with my family because I love them dearly. How’d I end up with two best friends for bothers? I don’t know. I’d also like to spend it doing every creative thing one could ever imagine. I know, that’s vague.
Favorite holiday song?
One of the Happy Birthdays. Iranian Happy Birthday is fun. Or “Either” by Stevie Wonder, which is a celebration of Martin Luther King Day.