An Irish trio have started on a month-long challenge to find the people that look most like them in the world.
As legend has it, we all have seven doppelgängers – seven people throughout the world who look almost completely (if not completely) identical and are of no known relation.
Harry English, Terence Manzanga and Niamh Geaney, all living in Dublin, are currently testing out this theory in a global search for the seven people in the world that even their mothers could mistake them for.
Inspired by the story of English journalist, Sophie Robehmed, who managed to find someone who looks very like her through social media, and by stories of people who look exactly like famous celebrities, the friends decided that they wanted to find their “real” Twin Strangers.
“There is a huge human curiosity element to it,” the group says. “Can you imagine how surreal it would be to meet someone that looked exactly like you?”
In order to make the challenge more exciting, the three friends decided to give themselves just a month to complete the challenge. Having started the search on March 30, they have just ten days left until their competition officially closes and the quest for their seven doppelgängers ends.
“All the winner will receive is pride to be honest: this was more of an experiment and really just for our own curiosity,” says Niamh. “The winner is the person with the closest match rather than the most potential matches and we are going to have an online vote to decide.”
“It's not actually as time consuming as you might think,” she continues. ”Smartphones help us to do a lot of our searching on the go, and good friends and interested media are also helping in the search.”
The challenge involves a mixture of actively hunting for their doppelgängers and spreading the word to encourage submissions.
“We’ve been relying on getting people to share our message,” they say. “We first started with our social circles and trying to get the word out that way and then started tweeting other communities with online followings. Our aim is to get sharing worldwide.”
“You don't want to be too aggressive in your search, in case you creep people out too much!” Harry adds. “There's a huge element of luck, too. It can really depend on your doppelgänger, and when they actually become aware of your search. Sometimes they might not want to be found.”
“I think I have a two, maybe three at a push who resemble me,” he says. “Got some queries in from Norway today – so maybe Scandinavia will be a happy hunting ground for me.”
“We act as both the hunter and the prey,” Terence adds. “Someone might tag their friend on Facebook and say that they resemble me. Upon receiving this lead, it is then up to us to follow it up and make contact with our twin applicant.”
Niamh has so far sprung miles ahead in the competition receiving the most lookalike submissions out of the trio. “Perhaps it's her own initiative, but I think girls are a lot quicker to engage in this sort of thing than guys,” says Harry.
“On day one, I spent the entire day bombarding my friends on social media asking them to share our challenge, Niamh tells us. “It spread throughout Ireland and the UK on this one day. The power of social media is incredible.”
“I also started contacting the press and media to further the search. Harry and Terence each had their targets too from: African societies to GAA communities. The result is doppelgänger entries coming in from the US, America, New Zealand, South Korea, Philippines, India and Israel.”
“I'm trailing further behind,” continues Terence. “Must be a guy thing, they tend to be a bit shy to participate. Not sure if being originally from sub Saharan Africa has anything to do with it!” (Terence was born in Zimbabwe.)
“I have been getting in a lot of celebrity leads,” he says. “I've also had some people (mainly from the USA) sending me pictures of their friend/family member who they think I look like, but when I look at the pictures I can’t really see it.”
“I think there are definitely black guys out there in the UK, Europe or the States who just need to see the photos. The more publicity the better, but time IS running out!”
Niamh has already met up with Karen Branigan who could most definitely be mistaken for her twin and, coincidentally, lives just an hour away from Dublin. You can see the meeting take place and wonder at their likeness in this video:
What was like to meet an unbiological twin?
“For the entire duration of our encounter I pretty much stared at her,” Niamh says. “I couldn’t get over her face and some of the expressions she would pull. I would think to myself or say aloud ‘Oh my God that’s my face’. I can’t remember the number of times I said ‘this is so freaky’. It was truly amazing.”
It was still quite a nerve-racking experience, however. Despite whatever physical resemblance existed between the two, Karen was a stranger after all. “I thought I would be fine until I knew I was about ten minutes away from meeting her,” Niamh says of the experience. “Then I started to get ridiculously nervous wondering how I would react to meeting someone that looks like me – I would be looking at my own face!”
“We got on super well. Karen is such a lovely, sweet-hearted girl. Well, we’re definitely both up for the craic.”
“I would say Karen is the shyer of the two of us but then, you have to remember, this was an even more surreal experience for her than it was for me. I knew what search I was embarking on. I’m the weirdo that contacted Karen out of the blue and asked her to meet me in person in another part of the country, so she might have been more reserved than she’d normally be.”
Niamh’s search is far from over yet. “We got on very very well and I’m so happy to have met one of my doppelgangers,” she continues, “but there’s 6 more of them out there!”
Do you think you know a person with a striking resemblance to Harry, Niamh and Terence? Help them find their Twin Stranger! You can have a look at their photos on www.twinstranger.com.
Would you like to search for your doppelganger? Have you ever met somebody that looks strangely like you? Leave your experiences in the comments section below.
* Originally published in April 2015.