Jonathan Groff: "I feel the most [like] myself when I am with my truly dear friends—people that I have grown and evolved with over the years, because I think (and hope!) that we keep changing. I feel the best around my closest friends who let me be whatever my 'authentic self' is at any given moment."
Maria Borges: "I feel like my most authentic self when I'm surrounded by love and when I get the opportunity to do what I love... Also, I'm all about the simple things in life: outdoor workout[s], having tea with friends, discovering new places, etc. These habits are what makes me who I truly am."
Christie Brinkley: "I think it's when I'm at my home in the Caribbean. It's on a little island and it's where I go with my family and we exhale there. I grew up in Malibu, so when I'm at the ocean I feel most relaxed, but down there I feel like there are no cameras."
Jasmine Sanders: "I feel I can be my most authentic self when I'm with my boyfriend Terrence. He makes me comfortable enough to bring out the dorky version of myself: the crazy voices, wild dancing, and uncontrollable laughter...I feel my most comfortable and protected with him."
Ellen Rosa: "I usually feel like my most authentic self when I'm surrounded by people who love me, like my family and closest friends. I can be myself and not worry about the little things."
Casil McArthur: "When do I feel like myself? When I'm wearing something that makes me feel confident, beautiful or strong. Expressing yourself to the world through the clothing you wear is something cute humans do, kinda of like peacocks showing off all their feathers. When I feel most comfortable, environment wise, is when I'm home, where I grew up. As I travel and age, I'm growing more comfortable with the world but home is where I want to stay forever in the long run. I really love my close friends, they keep me grounded, and accept and love me at my worsts and bests. I appreciate them so much, I could never find more loving people.
I'd like to add that the most important thing to me, is to not let people tell you what looks good on you. The only person who knows that is yourself. Don't be afraid to wear something because you might get weird looks. Keep yourself safe, but also let yourself be free to wear what you want. Clothing is fluid. It's not 'boys clothing' and 'girls clothing.' Its just clothing and if you think something's going to look nice on your or make you happy, don’t be afraid to wear it."
Alek Wek: "I always feel [like] the true me when I am at ease with myself and have good family and great working relationships. I am the true me, when it feels right."
Fernanda Ly: "I have nothing to hide, so my authentic self is always around to have fun. However, I am most comfortable when in the presence of my favorite people; even when sitting separately in silence, looking at our phones."
Yara Shahidi: "I feel like my most authentic self when I’m spending time my family, cooking dinner, playing games and being silly. It is where I feel most comfortable."
Adwoa Aboah: "When I'm with my family and my GurlsTalk girls. They help to keep me grounded and true to myself."
Miles Chamley-Watson: "For me, it's honestly just hanging out with my friends and just talking about life; it kind of what makes you who you are. So some of the ways I celebrate my individuality is just kind of being around my friends, kind of just pursuing the sport, kind of trying to make a bigger name in America."
If there was ever a time to try and celebrate the sense of American optimism that our nation was built on, that moment would be now. Sure, it might be difficult to conjure up a sense of patriotism in the face of a government that appears to be abandoning and neglecting undeserving individuals and communities, but that doesn’t take away from the historical events that shaped our culture. It would be a shame not to recognize the inspiring individuals that sacrificed everything for the sake of positive advancements of all sorts.
Remarkably, that happens to be the theme of Gap’s latest campaign, a concept dreamed up by Edward Enninful. Titled “Bridging the Gap,” the video from the all-American retailer features stars such as Priyanka Chopra, Wiz Khalifa, Yara Shahidi, Adwoa Aboah and Alek Wek singing and dancing to Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny,” all dressed in white shirts and jeans. According to Enninful, the incoming editor-in-chief of British Vogue, that particular outfit is a blank canvas upon which his chosen talent could express who they truly were. That was done by adding flair, like a nameplate necklace, a simple belt or a peek-a-boo pair of boxer shorts. The various models, actors and activists were selected for this modeling gig due to their various takes on being an American, so it only makes sense that they should be able to express that.
“Growing up, I loved the imagery I saw from America as it celebrated being the land of the free and home of the brave. This project is about authenticity and people living their truths,” said Enninful. In that vein, the Observer asked the stars of the campaign to describe the moment when they can be their most authentic self. From the shores of Christie Brinkley’s favorite island destination to model Maria Borges’ favorite people, these answers offer an intimate peek into the personalities of your favorite stars. Click through to see them all.