‘Gossip Girl’: A moment with Willa Holland
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“Gossip Girl” guest star Willa Holland has a lot to live up to considering the show’s last two female guests have unearthed Serena van der Woodsen’s darkest secrets and bedded and blackmailed Nate Archibald.
Starting in tonight’s episode, the 17-year-old L.A. native hits the Upper East Side for three episodes that will affect Jenny Humphrey’s design aspirations. If Holland looks familiar, it’s because she played Marissa Cooper’s mischievous little sister Kaitlin on “The OC.” Her profile is also poised to rise with some upcoming films, including “Genova” in which she she co-stars with Colin Firth, and “Middle of Nowhere” with Susan Sarandon.
Tell us about your character on “Gossip Girl.”
Her name is Agnes and she’s a 16-year-old model that works for Eleanor Waldorf. She befriends Jenny Humphrey and inspires her to do her own thing. I think Agnes sees Jenny as somebody who’s not working for herself; she’s working for everybody else. She has a lot of talent and potential, so Agnes pushes her to get out on her own.
Would you say she has more of a good or bad influence over Jenny?
I think she has good intentions, but she goes about it the wrong way. She tries to be Jenny’s partner in the clothing line but she doesn’t really hold her end of the deal. She’s kind of flaky in that sense.
The show gets a lot of attention. Did you get a sense of the frenzy surrounding it while on set?
On “The OC,” we never really had that much paparazzi follow us around because it was shot on a closed stage. “Gossip Girl” does as well, but for some reason, the paparazzi followed us to set every single day. I would wake up at 6 o’clock in the morning, not even have coffee yet, and there would be six or seven paparazzi. I’m not used to that.
Since you play a model, you must have gotten a taste of the show’s fashion…
It was amazing. There was a pair of Chloe boots that I’m mortally obsessed with that I’m trying to get them to give me. I was wearing designer clothes the entire time.
What’s the story behind Steven Spielberg’s role in launching your acting career?
I was so young when it happened, probably 6 or 7. We summered in the Hamptons and he mentioned to my mother and [stepfather] Brian De Palma that I should be an actress or a model. I got inspired by him in a way, because the second I heard that, I wanted to be in the square box that everyone else looked pretty in.
— Enid Portuguez