Leighton Meester – Biography

leighton-meester-435Name: Leighton Marissa Meester
Born: April 9, 1986 in Forth Worth, Texas, US
Spouse: Adam Brody

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. Her ancestry includes German, Dutch, English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh. 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 USA. 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, 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, “It made me realize that you can’t judge anyone—especially your parents—for what they’ve done in their past, because people change.” In 2011, Leighton was involved in a lawsuit with her mother. Meester has joked, “Look, I could’ve turned out a lot worse.” She has cited her mother as her style icon. Her father works for an internet company and her mother is a writer.

Meester grew up in Marco Island, Florida, where she participated in productions at a local playhouse. When she was 11 years old, Meester and her mother moved to New York City. 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 as well as many commercials including Tamagotchi toys and Clearasil. She has also posed for Limited Too campaigns alongside fellow future actress, Amanda Seyfried, in which Seyfried recalls, “Leighton was very confident.” Meester made her television acting debut as a murder victim’s friend on an episode of Law & Order. At 14, Meester moved to Los Angeles, California, wanting more stable work, and attended Hollywood High School and Beverly Hills High School. She then transferred to a small private school and graduated a year early.

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.[48] 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[54] 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.

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.

In July 2011, she and her mother filed lawsuits against each other regarding Meester’s financial support of her younger brother, Alexander, who has multiple health problems. Meester’s suit claims the money she sent was used by her mother for “cosmetic procedures”, such as botox and hair extensions. Her mother’s suit makes a counterclaim alleging breach of contract and physical abuse. Her mother also claims 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 claims that she is 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. She also accused her daughter of calling social services on her by making up false claims, which investigators promptly dropped after an interview with Meester. In November 2011, Constance Meester dropped the $3 million claim for damages against her daughter. Leighton claimed that she would be willing to pay for her brothers medical expenses as well as his school tuition, but denies that she agreed to pay $10,000 every month, which she claimed was a ridiculous claim. As a result, Leighton obtained a default judgment on December 7, 2011. In June 2012, Meester subsequently won the lawsuit, with the judge rejecting her mother’s claims from her previous counter-suit.

Following Gossip Girl???’??s ending in 2012, Meester moved from New York City to Los Angeles. She purchased a house in the Encino neighborhood in September 2011. The house was put on sale in January 2015 and sold in June 2015.

Meester was in a relationship with her Gossip Girl co-star Sebastian Stan for about two years, from 2008 to 2010. In 2012, she briefly rekindled a romance with her Remember the Daze co-star Aaron Himelstein, after initially dating in 2007, but then began dating former The O.C actor Adam Brody whom she met while on the set of The Oranges. In November 2013, the couple became engaged after a year of dating and married in February 2014 in a private ceremony. On August 4, 2015, she gave birth to the couple’s first child, a baby girl named Arlo Day.

In April 2014, Meester presented at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Easter Bonnet Competition with Chris O’Dowd and James Franco, after raising donations at her Broadway show Of Mice and Men.

Awards & Nominations
2008
Teen Choice Awards – Choice TV Actress Drama – Nominated
Teen Choice Awards – Choice TV Breakout Star Female – Nominated

2009
Teen Choice Awards – Choice TV Actress Drama – Won
MTV Music Video Award – Best Pop Video – Cobra Starship ft. Leighton Meester Good Girls Go Bad – Nominated

2010
Teen Choice Awards – Choice TV Actress Drama – Won
Spotlight Award for Country Strong – Won

2011
MTV Movie Awards – Best Villain – The Roommate – Nominated
Teen Choice Awards – Choice Movie Actress Drama – Country Strong – Nominated
Teen Choice Awards – Choice Movie Villain – The Roommate – Nominated

2012
Teen Choice Awards – Choice TV Actress Drama – Gossip Girl – Nominated
Teen Choice Awards – Choice Summer Movie Star Female – That’s My Boy – Nominated

2013
Golden Raspberry Awards – Worst Screen couple – That’s My Boy – Nominated
Golden Raspberry Awards – Worst Screen ensemble – That’s My Boy – Nominated

2014
Broadway.com Audience Choice Award – Favorite Featured Actress in a play – Of Mice and Men – Nominated

Source: Wikipedia