Yara Shahidi On Being a Part of Gap's Unifying New Campaign

Yara Shahidi On Being a Part of Gap's Unifying New Campaign

We talked to Yara Shahidi about the new "Bridging the Gap" campaign.

We talked to Yara Shahidi about the new "Bridging the Gap" campaign.

Text: Carolyn Hanson

Like most Millennial babies, 17-year-old Yara Shahidi, actress, activist, and star of Black-ish, grew up around Gap. Her story with the brand is a little different from most, though. Born into a showbusiness family, Shahidi got to model for Gap as a child, and was even on set to watch her family members (including, but not limited to her uncle, the legendary rapper NAS) do campaigns with the brand. So when Gap approached her for its newest campaign, entitled "Bridging the Gap," it was a natural, if not near perfect, fit.

Further, the campaign itself is right up Shahidi's ally. Helmed by the editor-in-chief of British Vogue, Edward Enninful, "Bridging the Gap," is based off a simple enough concept–bring a bunch of people of different backgrounds together in similar outfits (the classic jeans and a white tee) and let the rest of who they are shine through. It was this concept of unity within diversity that attracted Shahidi specifically to the campaign, the fact that everyone was equalized on one level but nonetheless given room to be their authentic selves. To Shahidi, authenticity means being free and comfortable with expressing every aspect of who you are, whether it be your racial, sexual, gender or cultural identity, and not just accepting but celebrating the way that all of the aspects of one's identity can feed into each other.

The campaign co-stars amazing people of all backgrounds, and has even proved as a source of unity for those in it; before model Adwoa Aboah showed up to shoot the video, the last time Shahidi had seen her was in London, where the two had discussed diversity in the entertainment industry. Further proving the uniting power of the video, Shahidi even ran into a co-star she hadn't known beforehand at Coachella this past April, and the two spent time together and even had a moment singing the song from the video: "Sunny," by Boney M.

This isn't the first or the last time Shahidi, born to an Iranian-American father and African-American mother, has been a champion for diversity. Last year, she signed a modeling contract with New York Model Management in the hopes of lending to a more diverse representation of societal beauty standards. She says her activist streak comes from her parents and extended family, all of whom are outspoken about the need for justice in America and a changing of society's idea of what it means to be an American. And when asked what she's looking towards in the future, she tells us she's excited about something many people take for granted: "I'm excited to be able to vote."

This is par for the course for the wise beyond her years Shahidi, who recently committed to a university and will be double-majoring in African-American Studies and Sociology. "I just finished my course material for the 12th grade like 72 hours ago," she notes. On top of school, she has her upcoming spin-off of Black-ish, entitled College-ish, to look forward to. Shahidi's dedication to everything she does shines through in her voice as she speaks about the future, and despite having a lot on her plate, it's clear the already impressive and outspoken young adult will only become more of a force as she gets older. 

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