Leighton Meester

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Leighton Meester
Leighton Meester at CW Upfront 2009.jpg
Meester in May 2009
Born Leighton Marissa Meester
(1986-04-09) April 9, 1986 (age 30)
Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.
Occupation
  • Actress
  • singer-songwriter
  • model
Years active 1999–present
Spouse(s) Adam Brody (m. 2014)
Children 1
Musical career
Genres
Instruments
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Labels

Leighton Marissa Meester (born April 9, 1986)[1] is an American actress, singer-songwriter and model. She is mostly known for her starring role as Blair Waldorf in the drama series Gossip Girl (2007–12). She has also appeared in the films Killer Movie (2008), Country Strong (2010), The Roommate (2011), Monte Carlo (2011), The Oranges (2011), and The Judge (2014). Meester made her Broadway debut in Of Mice and Men (2014).

In addition to acting, Meester has also ventured into music. In 2009, she featured on Cobra Starship's "Good Girls Go Bad" which charted on the Billboard Hot 100, and released her first single "Somebody to Love" under Universal Republic. Her second single "Your Love's a Drug" was released in 2011. Meester has also recorded songs for various soundtracks. Her debut album, Heartstrings, was independently released in 2014. She has also modeled, having been the face of brands such as Jimmy Choo, Herbal Essences,[2] and Vera Wang.[3]

Early life[edit]

Meester was born in Fort Worth, Texas, to Constance (née Haas) and Douglas Meester, and lived most of her life in New York City and Los Angeles.[4][5][6][7] Her ancestry includes German, Dutch, English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh.[8] Her father works for an internet company and her mother is a writer.[9] At the time of her birth, her mother was serving time in a federal prison for her involvement in a drug ring that smuggled marijuana from Jamaica to the United States. She was able to give birth to Leighton in a hospital and nurse her for three months in a halfway house, before returning to prison to complete her sentence,[4][5] after which Leighton's grandmother cared for her. She has a brother, Alexander, who is eight years younger. Meester has maintained that her parents gave her a normal upbringing and, despite their criminal past, she has stated, "It made me realize that you can't judge anyone – especially your parents – for what they've done in their past, because people change."[10] In 2009, Meester joked, "Look, I could've turned out a lot worse."[11] In 2011, Meester sued her mother for alleged financial misconduct, and was countersued by her mother for alleged failure to pay debts.[10][12] Meester grew up in Marco Island, Florida, where she participated in productions at a local playhouse.[13]

When she was 11 years old, Meester and her mother moved to New York City.[13] Meester attended the Professional Children's School and also began working as a model with Wilhelmina, booking a Ralph Lauren campaign shot by Bruce Weber and working with then photographer (now filmmaker) Sofia Coppola.[13][14] She also booked commercials for Tamagotchi and Clearasil, and modelled for Limited Too alongside Amanda Seyfried.[15] Meester made her television acting debut as a murder victim's friend on an episode of Law & Order.[13][14] At 14, Meester moved to Los Angeles, wanting more stable work, and attended Hollywood High School and Beverly Hills High School.[14][16] She then transferred to a small private school and graduated a year early.[17]

Acting career[edit]

After her television debut in 1999 playing Alyssa Turner in an episode of Law & Order, Meester appeared as a guest in two more series before landing a big role in the film Hangman's Curse, based on the bestselling book by Frank Peretti. She then appeared in Tarzan, which ran for only eight episodes. Meester started to book guest roles in other series such as Crossing Jordan, 8 Simple Rules, 7th Heaven, Veronica Mars, 24, and Entourage.[13] In 2005, she was cast in a regular role on the series Surface as Savannah Barnett.[18] The following year, Meester appeared in two films, Flourish and Inside. She also guest starred in an episode of Numbers and recurred in two episodes of House as Ali Johnson, a young girl who has a crush on House.[13] She then had guest roles in CSI: Miami and Shark, and portrayed the female lead in the horror film Drive-Thru.

Meester at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2008

In 2007, Meester was cast in The CW's teen drama series Gossip Girl as Blair Waldorf.[13] The series is based on the book series of the same name by Cecily von Ziegesar, and follows the lives of New York's privileged Upper East Side young adults. Her performance was the most critically acclaimed of the show, with Blair being cited as the series' breakout character, and also garnering much media recognition due to her wardrobe.[19][20] Meester subsequently appeared in the television film The Haunting of Sorority Row, and had a role in the ensemble comedy-drama film Remember the Daze. She also appeared in the horror-thriller film Killer Movie in 2008. Meester starred in three films in 2010, with small roles in the comedies Date Night and Going The Distance,[21] and a larger role in the drama Country Strong, also starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Garrett Hedlund. The Boston Globe found the best thing about the film was Meester, writing, "She's just doing Reese Witherspoon's June Carter Cash in Walk the Line with dabs of Miley Cyrus and Kellie Pickler. But it's not an impersonation; it's a performance with its own comedy and sweetness."[22] USA Today was also positive towards her performance, stating, "Meester shows she can do more than play one of Gossip Girl's privileged Manhattan socialites."[23]

In 2011, she played the role of Rebecca, an obsessive bipolar girl, in the thriller film The Roommate.[24] Though the film mainly received negative reviews, Meester's portrayal was praised by critics. Entertainment Weekly found she was the only one to bring "the slightest trace of something fascinating to her role,"[25] while Los Angeles Times wrote, "[Meester's] performance often has the feeling of a sports car in neutral. When she punches it for quick changes of tone from manic to wounded or around the bend, she shows how much more she is capable of."[26] Meester's next film was the teen comedy film Monte Carlo, loosely based on Jules Bass' young-adult book Headhunters, in which she portrayed Selena Gomez's sister and Katie Cassidy's friend.[27] Movieline noted, "As in Country Strong, Meester's crack timing and irresistible poignancy illuminate a part that would leave other actresses simpering themselves off the screen."[28] Her last film project of 2011 was the independent comedy-drama The Oranges, opposite Hugh Laurie and Adam Brody, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.[29] Meester's performance was again met with positive reviews, with the San Francisco Chronicle writing that she "succeeds in embodying all that is alluring and alarming about a 24-year-old woman."[30]

Meester in September 2010

She next starred in the comedy film That's My Boy, alongside Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, and Milo Ventimiglia, which was released in June 2012.[31] The film received mainly negative reviews,[32] and was nominated for eight Golden Raspberry Awards.[33] The film was also a box office failure, grossing over $57 million, failing to recoup its production budget of $70 million.[34] In August 2012, Meester appeared alongside Wilmer Valderrama and Vanessa Curry in house music group The Nomads' music video for "Addicted to Love".[35] She was originally in talks to reprise her role as Carrie Bishop in the film adaptation of Veronica Mars,[36] but due to scheduling issues, she was eventually replaced by singer Andrea Estella of the band Twin Sister.[37]

In April 2014, her comedy film Life Partners premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film follows the friendship between a lesbian (Meester) and a straight woman (Gillian Jacobs) who starts a new relationship.[38] She then appeared opposite Robert Downey, Jr., Robert Duvall, and Vera Farmiga in the David Dobkin-directed comedy-drama film The Judge, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was released in October 2014.[39] Her next project was Like Sunday, Like Rain directed by Frank Whaley, where she played the girlfriend of Green Day's singer Billie Joe Armstrong.[40] Meester's final film of 2014 was By the Gun, alongside Ben Barnes.[41] That same year, Meester made her Broadway debut in the stage adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and Men, starring opposite James Franco and Chris O'Dowd.[42] In March 2016, she was cast in Fox's comedy series Making History as Deborah Revere, a colonial woman from 1775 and the daughter of American artisan Paul Revere.[43]

Other works[edit]

Music[edit]

In 2007, Meester recorded the song "Inside the Black" for the soundtrack of Drive-Thru.[44] In 2008, Meester sang with Tony Bennett in an episode Entourage.[45] In April 2009, she released the song "Birthday" featuring duo Awesome New Republic.[46] A version without her vocals was included on their Rational Geographic Vol. I album.[47][48] Later that month, Meester signed a recording contract with Universal Republic.[45] The album, produced by Polow Da Don, Harvey Mason Jr., and Spencer Nezey, which Meester began working on in March 2009, was initially projected to be released in fall 2009,[45][49] but was later delayed to early 2010.[50] It was again pushed back to late 2010,[51] and was ultimately shelved. Despite this, Meester was able to release two singles and two other songs were leaked.

Meester performing in May 2011

In July 2009, "Body Control" surfaced on the internet.[52] Meester's first official single, "Somebody to Love", featuring R&B singer Robin Thicke, was released for airplay on October 13, 2009, and became available for digital download on October 14, 2009.[53][54] Her second single, "Your Love's a Drug", was digitally released on March 30, 2010.[55] Meester did a duet with DJ Clinton Sparks on "Front Cut", which appeared on the internet in February 2011.[56][57] Lil Wayne worked with her on an unreleased song titled "Make It Rain".[58] Jesse McCartney also wrote a song for the album.[59]

Meester provided vocals on Cobra Starship's song "Good Girls Go Bad", which peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100,[60] and she is also featured on Stephen Jerzak's song "She Said".[61][62] She recorded a cover of the song "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" for the compilation album A Very Special Christmas 7.[63] For her 2010 country drama film Country Strong, she recorded a cover of the song "Words I Couldn't Say" by Rascal Flatts as well as "A Little Bit Stronger" by Sara Evans featured on the film's soundtrack; a promotional single titled "Summer Girl"; and a duet with Garrett Hedlund titled "Give In To Me".[64] After wrapping the film, she received a guitar from Tim McGraw and decided to learn how to play it.[65]

In October 2010, Meester said she had been working with a band called Check in the Dark and had been writing for the last six months after being inspired by Country Strong. She revealed her influences, "I love Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, that style of music, and as far as songwriting I think that's where my heart is."[66] On April 22, 2012, Meester announced via Twitter a five-city tour with Check in the Dark, which started on May 29 and ended on June 4, 2012.[67][68][69] Reflecting on her past pop collaborations, she said she "loved" them but that folk music was "a lot closer to [her] heart".[70] In June 2012, Meester said she and the band had recorded all the songs for an album that served as a demo.[71]

On September 9, 2014, it was announced her debut LP Heartstrings would be released independently through her own label, Hotly Wanting, on October 28, 2014. With its style compared to ethereal singer-songwriters such as Tori Amos and Joni Mitchell, the nine-song LP was written by Meester and produced by Jeff Trott.[72][73] The music video for the eponymous title track "Heartstrings" was released on October 29, 2014.[74]

Endorsements[edit]

Meester at New York Fashion Week in September 2008

Meester has fronted many charities as well as advertising campaigns. In 2008, she was a spokesperson for Sunsilk's "Life Can't Wait" campaign to motivate women to pursue their dreams,[75] and collaborated with Safe Horizon to raise awareness about domestic violence.[76] Early in 2009, Meester partnered with Reebok to model their new Top Down sneakers.[77] Outside of Gossip Girl, Meester has worked with co-star Ed Westwick in a Nikon Coolpix series camera advertisement, and both were the faces of the Korean clothing line ASK Enquired.[78] In 2010, Meester signed on to be the spokesperson for Herbal Essences hair products.[79] In the same year, Meester took part in Bulgari's humanitarian efforts for the Save the Children organization with Isabella Rossellini and Maribel Verdútaken.[80]

She next fronted another South Korean brand, this time a beauty campaign for eSpoir.[81] Vera Wang selected her to be the face of the fragrance "Lovestruck" in 2011, stating that Meester's "beauty, talent and spirit will inspire all the young women that I hope will enjoy this passionate, new young fragrance."[82] In 2011, Italian fashion house Missoni revealed they had chosen Meester to be part of their Spring/Summer 2011 campaign.[83] In May 2012, she became an endorser for Philippine clothing brand Penshoppe's campaign "All Stars".[84] She is the face of French brand Naf Naf's autumn and winter 2013–14 collection.[85] In October 2013, Biotherm, a French luxury skincare company, announced Meester as its new global ambassador.[86] In 2015, she appeared in advertisements for luxury fashion brand Jimmy Choo.[87]

Personal life[edit]

In July 2011, Meester and her mother, Constance, filed lawsuits against each other regarding Meester's financial support of her younger brother, Alexander, who has multiple health problems.[88] Meester's suit claimed that the money she sent was used by her mother for "cosmetic procedures", such as botox and hair extensions. Her mother's suit made a counterclaim alleging breach of contract and physical abuse.[88] Constance claimed that a verbal contract was in place where Meester had promised $10,000 a month, instead of the $7,500 she received. Her mother also claimed that she was due a larger sum in return for "sacrificing her own happiness" when she moved Meester to Los Angeles as a child to pursue acting. When taken to court, the judge disregarded this illegitimate claim. Constance accused her daughter of calling social services on her by fabricating claims, which investigators promptly dropped after an interview with Meester. In November 2011, Constance dropped the $3 million claim for damages against her daughter. Meester claimed that she would be willing to pay for her brother's medical expenses as well as his school tuition, but denied that she agreed to pay $10,000 every month, which she claimed was a ridiculous claim.[12] As a result, Meester obtained a default judgment on December 7, 2011.[89] In June 2012, Meester subsequently won the lawsuit, with the judge rejecting her mother's claims from her previous counter-suit.[90]

Following Gossip Girl's ending in 2012, Meester moved from New York City to Los Angeles.[91] In November 2013, she became engaged to actor Adam Brody, whom she met while co-starring in the film The Oranges in 2010.[92] The couple were married in a private ceremony on February 15, 2014.[93] They welcomed their first child, daughter Arlo Day Brody, on August 4, 2015 in Whittier, California.[94]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2003 The Jackalope Lorraine Short film
2003 Hangman's Curse Elisha Springfield
2006 Flourish Lucy Covner
2006 Inside Josie
2007 Drive-Thru Mackenzie Carpenter
2007 Remember the Daze Tori
2008 Killer Movie Jaynie Hansen
2010 Date Night Katy
2010 Going the Distance Amy
2010 Country Strong Chiles Stanton
2011 The Roommate Rebecca Evans
2011 Monte Carlo Mary Margaret Kelly
2011 The Oranges Nina Ostroff
2012 That's My Boy Jamie Martin
2014 Life Partners Sasha Weiss
2014 The Judge Carla Powell
2014 Like Sunday, Like Rain Eleanor Logan
2014 By the Gun Ali Matazano
2015 Unity Narrator (voice) Documentary

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1999 Law & Order Alyssa Turner Episode: "Disciple"
2001 Boston Public Sarah Breen Episode: "Chapter Twenty-Eight"
2002 Once and Again Amanda Episode: "Gardenia"
2002 Family Affair Irene Episode: "No Small Parts"
2003 Hollywood Division Michelle Nichols Pilot
2003 Tarzan Nicki Porter 5 episodes
2003 The Big Wide World of Carl Laemke Tanni Laemke Pilot
2004 Crossing Jordan Marie Strand Episode: "Missing Pieces"
2004 7th Heaven Kendall 2 episodes
2004 North Shore Veronica Farrell Episode: "Pilot"
2004–08 Entourage Justine Chapin 3 episodes
2005 24 Debbie Pendleton 4 episodes
2005 Veronica Mars Carrie Bishop 2 episodes
2005 8 Simple Rules Nikki Alcott Episode: "The After Party"
2005–06 Surface Savannah Barnett 12 episodes
2006 Secrets of a Small Town Kayla Rhodes Pilot
2006 Monster Allergy Poppy (voice) Episode: "House of Monsters"
2006 Numbers Karen Camden Episode: "Dark Matter"
2006 House Ali Johnson 2 episodes
2007 CSI: Miami Heather Crowley Episode: "Broken Home"
2007 Shark Megan 3 episodes
2007–12 Gossip Girl Blair Waldorf 121 episodes
2007 The Haunting of Sorority Row Samantha Willows Television film
2017 Making History Deborah Revere Upcoming series

Stage[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2014 Of Mice and Men Curley's Wife Longacre Theatre

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak positions
US
[95]
US
Heat.

[96]
Heartstrings 139 1

Singles[edit]

As lead artist
Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications Album
US
[97]
US
Heat.

[98]
US
Country
Digital

[99]
CAN
[100]
"Somebody to Love"
(featuring Robin Thicke)
2009 [A] 13 Non-album singles
"Your Love's a Drug" 2011 [B] 14
"Give In to Me"
(with Garrett Hedlund)
79 7 94 Country Strong
"Heartstrings" 2014 Heartstrings
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.
As featured artist
Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications Album
US
[60]
AUS
[102]
AUT
[103]
BEL
[104]
CAN
[105]
FIN
[106]
NL
[107]
NZ
[108]
UK
[109]
"Good Girls Go Bad"
(Cobra Starship featuring Leighton Meester)
2009 7 5 37 4 7 13 19 2 17 Hot Mess
"She Said"
(Stephen Jerzak featuring Leighton Meester)
2010 Miles and Miles
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.
Promotional singles
Title Year Album
"Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"[114] 2009 A Very Special Christmas 7
Other charted songs
Title Year Peak chart positions Album
US
[115]
US
Heat.

[98]
US
Country
Digital

[99]
"Summer Girl" 2011 15 17 Country Strong
"Words I Couldn't Say" 25 24
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

Other appearances[edit]

Title Year Other artist(s) Album
"Inside the Black" 2007 N/A Drive-Thru
"Birthday" 2009 Awesome New Republic Rational Geographic Vol. I
"A Little Bit Stronger" 2010 N/A Country Strong
"The Stand In" 2012 Check in the Dark The Game

Tours[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result Notes
2008 Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Actress: Drama Gossip Girl Nominated [116]
Choice TV: Female Breakout Star Nominated
2009 Choice TV Actress: Drama Won [117]
MTV Video Music Awards Best Pop Video "Good Girls Go Bad" (with Cobra Starship) Nominated [118]
2010 Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Actress: Drama Gossip Girl Won [119]
Hollywood Film Awards Spotlight Award Country Strong Won [120]
2011 MTV Movie Awards Best Villain The Roommate Nominated [121]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress: Drama Country Strong Nominated [122]
Choice Movie: Villain The Roommate Nominated
2012 Choice TV Actress: Drama Gossip Girl Nominated [123]
Choice Summer Movie Star: Female That's My Boy Nominated [124]
2013 Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Screen Couple Nominated [125]
Worst Screen Ensemble Nominated
2014 Broadway.com Audience Choice Award Favorite Featured Actress in a Play Of Mice and Men Nominated [126]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Somebody to Love" did not enter the Billboard Hot 100, but peaked at number 11 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.[97]
  2. ^ "Your Love's a Drug" did not enter the Billboard Hot 100, but peaked at number 19 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.[97]

References[edit]

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