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Leighton Meester Bio
Leighton Meester (born April 9, 1986) is an American actress and singer. She is mostly known for her starring role as Blair Waldorf in the teen drama series Gossip Girl (2007–12). She has also appeared in the 2010 country drama film Country Strong, the 2011 thriller The Roommate, the 2011 romantic-comedy Monte Carlo, and the comedies The Oranges (2011) and That’s My Boy (2012). Meester made her Broadway debut in 2014 in Of Mice and Men.
In addition to her acting career, Meester has also ventured into music. In 2009, she was featured on Cobra Starship‘s “Good Girls Go Bad” and released her first single “Somebody to Love” with Universal Republic. Her second single “Your Love’s a Drug” was released in 2011. Meester also recorded songs for various soundtracks. Her debut album, Heartstrings was independently released in 2014.
After her television debut in 1999 playing Alyssa Turner in Law & Order, Meester appeared as a guest in two more series before landing her big role in the movie Hangman’s Curse, based on the best-selling book by Frank Peretti. She appeared in Tarzan, which ran for only eight episodes. Meester then started to land guest roles in other series such as Crossing Jordan, 8 Simple Rules, 7th Heaven, Veronica Mars, 24, and Entourage.
In 2005, Meester began a regular role in the series Surface as Savannah Bennet. Meester appeared in two more 2006 movies, Flourish and Inside. She also guest appeared in Numb3rs and in two episodes of House M.D. as Ali, a young girl who has a crush on House. She had guest roles on CSI: Miami and Shark, and played the female lead in the horror film Drive-Thru.
In 2007, Meester was cast in the CW‘s teen drama series Gossip Girl as Blair Waldorf. The show is based on the book series by Cecily von Ziegesar about 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. She dated Gossip Girl co-star Sebastian Stan.
Meester appeared on the television film The Haunting of Sorority Row, and played a part in the ensemble comedy/drama 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 and a bigger role in Screen Gems‘ country drama Country Strong starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Garrett Hedlund. The Boston Globe found the best thing in the film was Meester because “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.” USA Today was also positive towards her performance writing “Meester shows she can do more than play one of Gossip Girl ’s privileged Manhattan socialite.”
In 2011, she played the role of Rebecca, an obsessive bipolar girl in the thriller The Roommate. 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” while Los Angeles Times wrote “her 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.” Meester’s second film of the year was the young femme comedy Monte Carlo, loosely based on Jules Bass‘s young-adult book Headhunters, in which she plays Selena Gomez‘s sister and Katie Cassidy‘s friend. Movieline noted that “As in Country Strong, Meester’s crack timing and irresistible poignancy illuminate a part that would leave other actresses simpering themselves off the screen.” Her last film project of 2011 was the indie dramatic comedy The Oranges opposite Hugh Laurie and Adam Brody, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. The San Francisco Chronicle felt that Meester “succeeds in embodying all that is alluring and alarming about a 24-year-old woman”, Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly thought she was “charming”, and Newsday called her “radiant”.
Meester starred in the comedy That’s My Boy, alongside Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, and Milo Ventimiglia, which was released in June 2012. The film received mainly negative reviews and was nominated for eight Golden Raspberry Awards. The film was also a box office failure as it only grossed over $57 million, failing to recoup its production budget of $70 million. In August 2012, Meester appeared alongside Wilmer Valderrama and Vanessa Curry in the house music group Nomads’ music video “Addicted to Love”. Meester was originally in talks to reprise her role as Carrie Bishop in the film adaptation of Veronica Mars, but due to scheduling issues, she was eventually replaced by Andrea Estella, lead singer of the band Twin Sister.
In April 2014, 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. She appeared opposite Robert Downey, Jr. in the David Dobkin-directed dramedy The Judge, which was released in October 2014. 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. Meester’s final film of the year was By the Gun (originally titled God Only Knows) alongside Ben Barnes, which she finished filming in late 2012.
She made her Broadway debut in an adaptation of John Steinbeck‘s novel Of Mice and Men in 2014 opposite James Franco. She started working on the project Any Tom, Dick, or Harry in 2012, which has yet to be released.
In 2007, Meester recorded the song “Inside the Black” for the soundtrack of Drive-Thru. In 2008, Meester sang with Tony Bennett in an episode Entourage. In April 2009, she released the song “Birthday” featuring duo Awesome New Republic. A version without her vocals was included on their Rational Geographic Vol. I album. Later that month, Meester signed a recording contract with Universal Republic. 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 the fall but was later delayed to early 2010. It was again pushed back to late 2010 and it eventually never came out. Despite this, Meester was able to release two singles and two other songs were leaked.
In July 2009, “Body Control” surfaced on the internet. 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. Her second single, “Your Love’s a Drug”, was digitally released on March 30, 2010. Meester did a duet with DJ Clinton Sparks on “Front Cut”, which appeared on the internet in February 2011. Lil Wayne worked with her on an unreleased song titled “Make It Rain”. Jesse McCartney also wrote a song for the album.
Meester provided vocals on Cobra Starship‘s song “Good Girls Go Bad“, which peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100, and she is also featured on Stephen Jerzak‘s song “She Said”. She recorded a cover of the song “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” for the compilation album A Very Special Christmas 7. 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”. After wrapping the film, she received a guitar from Tim McGraw and decided to learn how to play it.
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. “I’ve just been having fun and writing from my heart”. 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.” 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. Reflecting on her past pop collaborations, she said she “loved” them but that folk music was “a lot closer to [her] heart”. In June 2012, Meester said she and the band had recorded all the songs for an album that served as a demo.
On September 9, 2014, it was announced her debut LP Heartstrings would be released independently through her own label, Hotly Wanting, on October 28, which shows Meester exploring concepts of guarded love, irony and heartache. “‘Heartstrings’ speaks to vibe and encompasses a lot of the themes of the rest of the album,” Meester told Billboard describing the title track which went available along with the album pre-order on iTunes on the same day. “It’s been a long time coming and I’m very excited to finally release it.” 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. The music video for the eponymous title track Heartstrings was released on October 29, 2014.
Meester has fronted many charity 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 and collaborated with Safe Horizon to raise awareness about and prevent domestic violence. Early in 2009, Meester partnered with Reebok to model their new Top Down sneakers. Outside of Gossip Girl, Meester has worked with co-star Ed Westwick in a Nikon Coolpix series camera advertisement and both were faces for a Korean clothing line called ASK Enquired. In 2010, Meester signed on to be the spokesperson for Herbal Essences hair products. In the same year, Meester took part in Bulgari‘s humanitarian efforts for the Save the Children organization with Isabella Rossellini and Maribel Verdútaken. Vera Wang has also chosen Meester to be the face of her newest scent Lovestruck, breaking in summer of 2011, stating that the actress’s “beauty, talent and spirit will inspire all the young women that I hope will enjoy this passionate, new young fragrance.” In 2011, Italian fashion house Missoni revealed they have tapped Meester to be part of their Spring/Summer 2011 campaign. She fronts another South Korean brand, this time a beauty campaign, called eSpoir. In May 2012, she became an endorser for Philippine clothing brand Penshoppe‘s campaign “All Stars”. She is the face of French brand Naf Naf’s autumn and winter 2013–14 collection. In October 2013, Biotherm, a French luxury skincare company, announced Leighton as its new global ambassador. In 2015, she appeared in Jimmy Choo‘s ads.
In the media
Meester was named one of People magazine’s 100 Most Beautiful People along with the cast of Gossip Girl in 2008 and 25 Beauties (and Hotties) at 25 in 2011. She was also listed several times in Maxim‘s Hot 100 list, starting #48 in 2008, #12 in 2009, #17 in 2010 and #16 in 2011. BuddyTV ranked her #32 on its TV’s 100 Sexiest Women of 2010 list. She was ranked #75 by AskMen.com readers in the list “Top 99 Women of 2010” and #53 in 2011. Men’s Health ranked her #30 in its “Hottest Women in 2011” list. Glamour ranked her #5 among the Most Glamorous Celebrities of 2011.
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