Selma Blair is officially an icon — and she's got the Gap ad to prove it.
The actress, known for her roles in Legally Blonde, Cruel Intentions and more, is one of the faces of Gap's new ICONS campaign, which, according to the brand, celebrates modern American optimism and creating positive change by simply being your truest self.
For Blair, joining in this campaign just felt really, really good.
"How smart were they to include me?" she jokes to PEOPLE exclusively, before adding: "This makes me so happy. I have not felt happy about photographs or a campaign in this way in a while."
For Blair, the campaign (which also stars Labrinth, Cameron Russell, Lucky Blue Smith and Toni Breidinger) has been a fun endeavor after her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in 2018 and stem cell transplant in 2019. The actress has had major ups and downs over the past few years as she's learned to deal with her new way of life, as her MS affects everything she does.
It's also particularly exciting for her due to her history with the brand — including working at a Gap store on the Upper East Side, as she recalled in her book, Mean Baby.
"Once I was on my own, I was really on my own," she says of moving to New York from Michigan to pursue acting. "I lived at the Salvation Army. I worked at Gap. I worked at the coffee shop. I was a full-time acting student, and it was the moment."
Blair says there were days when she'd walk to work for "70 blocks" because she wanted to save money on train fare, but she loved wearing her "fresh Gap clothes" to do it.
"I felt like walking around that town, wearing my loafers and my men's khakis and my white shirt — that I looked pretty damn polished and good," she says, adding that to be involved in the ICONS campaign now is a full-circle moment: "It is my pride."
Blair adds: "For me, Gap is something I do truly live in and love, and to be included in this … it's a day that I'm really happy will live in a campaign."
Blair incorporates the cane she uses to aid in mobility into the campaign, and says that adjusting to the realities of her MS — even being in remission — is part of her daily routine. She experiences "glitches and frailties," she tells PEOPLE, which have required her to overhaul the simplest things, including how she gets ready.
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"I keep things really simple," she says. "I jump in the pool in the morning to wake myself up. I put on my white tank top and my khakis. And that carries me through the day until I add to it. As I wake up more and more, and as people come into my day, I'll put on another piece of jewelry or then grab my cane instead of having my [service] dog, and it just evolves as my day goes on."
Part of that evolution includes considering what to do with her hair; she has alopecia now, which has left her with bald patches, but often can comb her bleach-blonde hair to help mask it a bit, or she might put on one of her turbans. She's also helped develop some assistive makeup items in hopes of making application easier for herself and others. And all of these modifications to a morning routine come with the territory — something that she accepts not with resignation but with optimism and humor.
"I'm never embarrassed when I make big, funny, blotto messes," she tells PEOPLE. "I'm just not anymore. To me, trying means everything now. I used to be a little snobby about that."
And that embrace of evolution translates to her finished look as well: "By nighttime, I look very interesting. I have a turban. I have two canes. Really, it's a whole thing. I don't mind my eccentricities now."