Actress Leighton Meester published a sort-of critique of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men in the Huffington post yesterday. I say ‘sort-of’ because Meester isn’t so much critiquing the story, but rather the reaction of the modern-day audience. During her four-month run as the only female – a nameless character, at that – in the Broadway version, Meester has developed a strong emotional connection to her character. She is strictly referred to as a tramp, tart, or bitch, despite the fact that she is quite the contrary. Meester describes the ‘eerie,’ even ‘terrifying’ feeling that she gets when she realizes that the mostly young audience is “unfazed, if not amused” by the violent treatment of the female character.
A little heavier than you were expecting from a former teen queen, huh?
Along with countless other teens, I fell in love with Leighton quickly when she was cast as Blair Waldorf on the CW’s Gossip Girl in 2007. (I’m so tempted to go off on a tangent about Waldorf/GG, but I’ll stop myself.) Since the series ended in 2012, Meester has gone relatively under the radar, but I haven’t stopped obsessing. Her eloquent, eye-opening piece yesterday confirmed what I’ve known for years: Meester is a diamond in the rough that we call Hollywood. So in light of her recent girl power moment, here are the top five reasons I’ll never stop gushing over Leighton.
1) She’s brave. Although Meester says she is nothing like the bold, bossy character she played on Gossip Girl, she certainly seems to have the self-assuredness and gumption that Waldorf had. Exhibit A: writing a public essay critiquing a classic American novel from a feminist perspective.
2) She’s versatile. From playing an absurdly over privileged Upper East Side teen to a down home country singer trying to make it on tour, Meester has proven that she has range. Throw her recent Broadway gig into the mix and she’s reached the trifecta. We can even pretend for a second that The Roommate didn’t suck and add a thriller to her list. Meester’s versatility even translates to aesthetics: the star is a natural blonde but went brunette to play Waldorf!
3) She’s under the radar. As social-media-obsessed as I am, I give Meester props for her sporadic approach to her Twitter and Instagram accounts. Then there’s her love life. If I made up half of one the cutest couples in Hollywood, I would go shouting it from the rooftops. But Meester and her now-hubby Adam Brody got married secretly back in February. That’s when you know it’s real!
4) She’s down to earth. When Leighton was born, her mother was actually in the midst of serving a felony prison sentence for her part in a drug trafficking ring. Meester was raised by her grandparents in Florida until her mother was released. Her tough childhood probably played a big part in Meester’s humble attitude. She is also very well educated in addition to her acting resume – she allegedly speaks fluent French and has a love for creative writing.
5) She can sing! When I took a look at Meester’s discography, I was surprised to see how many songs she had before any of them went mainstream. I do remember her first official single, though: “Somebody to Love” featuring Robin Thicke. After a few more not-quite-hits, Meester came back on the scene with her vocals in Cobra Starship’s “Good Girls Go Bad.” The soundtrack for Country Strong in 2010 was Meester’s best work, in my opinion. Want a more recent example? Check out this amazing cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” by Leighton and Dana Williams. She is so hippie-chic and lovable in the video that I dare you not to fall for her.
(come on, I had to.)