Don't Call It a Reboot: Gossip Girl's New Stars Share a Peek Inside Their World
Don't Call It a Reboot: Gossip Girl's New Stars Share a Peek Inside Their World
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Don't Call It a Reboot: Gossip Girl's New Stars Share a Peek Inside Their World

Who are they, and where are they now? That's one secret we can't wait to see revealed when Gossip Girl premieres on July 8.

Fans of the original will find comfort in the familiar setting: the Met steps, naturally, New York's Upper East Side, and the prep school hallways that figure prominently within Gossip Girl's domain. But it would be remiss to call it a comeback when so much has changed—Serena van der who?

This Gossip Girl's ensemble cast includes a mix of recognisable faces and new kids on the block, ushering the ’20s version of this iconic teenage drama into an entirely new era. Where one was previously on team Blair or Serena, that blonde-versus-brunette binary has gone the way of flip phones and bubble-skirt hemlines—we're certainly not sorry to see that age-old trope become passé. There are, however, a few important people reprising their roles on the set of Gossip Girl 2.0: creators Joshua Safran and Josh Schwartz, Eric Daman as costume designer, and Kristen Bell as the omniscient voice of Gossip Girl herself. Thanks to this team behind the scenes, superfans of the original can rest assured knowing that our favorite elements of the series will include at least some thread of continuity, even if everything else has been totally reimagined.

Photo:

Vanessa Granda. STYLING: On Jordan: Jacquemus top and skirt, Chelsea Paris shoes, Uncommon Matters earrings; On Emily: Anna October dress, Labucq boots; On Zión: Maggie Marilyn dress, Rachael Wang Studio Archive shoes, Uncommon Matters bracelet

With anticipation mounting, we caught up with three of the stars from the new cast: Emily Alyn Lind, who plays Audrey Hope; Jordan Alexander as Julien Calloway; and Zión Moreno as Luna La. This troupe of teens and 20-somethings were eager not only to step into the roles of the most-watched Upper East Siders in ages but also to embody the It-girl factor of today with their digital prowess, their gender-bending style, and, most of all, their ability to keep the biggest secret of the summer. Intrigued? Good. 

In an effort to make this introduction like a Constance Billard uniform skirt—long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest—let's dive in. 

Photo:

Vanessa Granda. STYLING: Baserange top and briefs; Fleur du Mal bra; Rachael Wang Studio Archive tights and socks; Maryam Nassir Zadeh shoes

Emily Alyn Lind may be new to the world of Gossip Girl, but this isn't her first rodeo. The flaxen-haired 19-year-old actress grew up on film and TV sets (her mom is Barbara Alyn Woods of One Tree Hill fame) and is finally striking out on her own as Audrey Hope, the introspective ingénue in the latest clique of Upper East Siders. We caught up with Emily via Zoom from her apartment in Brooklyn's Park Slope neighbourhood. 

I'm so excited to speak with you today, Emily. I was a huge fan of the original Gossip Girl,  so when our team told me they booked members of the cast for our June cover, I was super excited to speak with you and learn about what everyone has been up to these past several months. So to kick off, were you a fan of the original? Was there a character you identified with or emulated in terms of style?

Yeah, I was definitely a fan of the original. I watched it years ago, and I liked all of it. We have the same costume designer on this one, Eric Daman. A lot of the outfits in the original were so iconic, and we're very lucky to work with him on this one as well. But yeah, I think that, across the board, he killed it like he's doing in this one as well. Blair was always so iconic to me. 

Absolutely. I think I wanted to be a Blair, but I was secretly more of a Jenny. But that's great. I love that there are some threads of continuity between the original and this new version. They've just recently announced the premiere date: Gossip Girl is coming to HBO Max in July. What can people expect from the new series, especially keeping in mind that it's a continuation, not a reboot?

I think that's the main thing to expect. A lot of people are freaking out. Some people are excited, and some people are like, "I'm going to kill you" because they're confused about the fact that it's not a reboot. That's just the most important factor: It's a continuation 10 years later, and we still live in the same world as the characters in the original, so they exist. But we are new characters, a new class of high school students taking on the Upper East Side. 

I wouldn't go into this thinking you're going to get a reboot because the tone has shifted a bit but still has that iconic Gossip Girl name on it. And you can see little specks of the original through it, like our costume designer, Eric, and Amy [Tagliamonti] and Jen [Johnson] from hair and makeup worked on the original. So there are sparkles from the originals sprinkled all over. It definitely feels nostalgic, but these are new characters, new storylines, and you can't really expect anything other than to watch.

When those photos of everyone on the Met steps were released, that was such a perfect encapsulation of "Don't call it a comeback." This is a continuation. This is new. This is fresh with the familiar elements so many fans know and love. 

Yeah, I think it's a wonderful thing to be able to step into that world but see it from a whole different light. I think people will enjoy that. I know that it's been 10 years, so you look at the world now, and it's changed so much. I think that it's going to be ingested very well, hopefully. 

A decade ago, blogs were the thing, and social media was fairly new. What are you excited about bringing this era of Gossip Girl to life in 2021?

That was one of the main thoughts of our showrunner, Josh Safran. He was a writer on the original Gossip Girl, and I think one of his issues with the original was that it wasn't as inclusive at all. It's really important that—with times changing and movements like Black Lives Matter being so prevalent in our society today—we showcase that.  

I think it would be ridiculous for film and TV to go about as if issues don't matter, as if these things that are constantly happening right in our face don't exist. Doing a show like this, where we're telling stories about teenagers in 2021, we're not doing a period piece. We're not doing a film that has an extreme, steady story. And so I think it's really important for our showrunner, Josh, to encompass the real world that we live in as well. Because why not?

That's a great point. It was very much an Upper East Sider bubble that was fantasy and appealing, but our world has changed so much. I'm excited to see that reflected in the new Gossip Girl with more diverse casting and, hopefully, some story elements that feel authentic to our reality.

Yeah, I feel like that, too. But what I won't stray away from is that these characters are still in this kind of mystical bubble of a false reality. They are rich kids that live on the Upper East Side. They speak differently. They live differently than probably anyone, even the richest people in the world, just because I think that they are in this bubble. A wonderful thing about Gossip Girl that I actually appreciate from the original is that it was set in reality, but there was also this very fun, dreamlike world that you're jumping into. And it's fun to see because it's not something that is 100% relatable to everyone watching it, but it goes all the way. It's a television show. 

An amazing actor told me recently that the audience realises you're acting but believes you anyway. I think that that's really important. We are playing characters, so some of the things that they do might not be set in reality. At the same time, I think that it is really important for these situations to happen around them to see really what privilege is and to see how these characters deal with it. I also think it's going to be a little bit more realistic, but it will have that dreamlike quality and fun nightclub scenes and running around fashion shows. Rich-bitch shit.

Photo:

Vanessa Granda. STYLING: Victoria Beckham jacket; Rebecca Taylor pants; Labucq boots

I love that. I'm looking forward to it so much. Let's dive into your character, Audrey Hope. On the Gossip Girl Instagram, she's given a one-word descriptor, "grace." Is that a note that you were given during production?

I think that's really up to the interpretation of people trying to pick apart what all of this means. It's funny. I think that even the social media coordinators are doing really well at making people feel like they're actually in this Gossip Girl universe of putting all the clues together. 

What I can say for my character is that she really likes the finer things in life. Her friends really, really obsess over social media. But Audrey is more into the finer things, like classical literature or going to the best restaurant when she goes to Paris. If she's going to go to Paris, then she's going to go to all the best museums. It's not even the fact that they're super expensive but the fact that she wants to be cultured. I guess you could say she was born in the wrong era, and her friends love that about her. Or at least, they accept that about her. She really moves through life in a way that you would see Grace Kelly or something, you know? But don't let that fool you, though, because she has a bad side as well.

So what is a one-word descriptor you would choose for yourself, given that you and your character are very different people?

I'm a learner. The people around me have to be super compatible with me because I'm always asking questions. Since I've been little, my mom has said that I never stop asking questions, and people that won't give you an answer are the people that you shouldn't be around. I feel like, as an artist, it's a gift. I'm a musician. I'm an actor. I'm a writer. I'm always wanting to know about the most random things, [the] most random facts, the most random books. I actually think it is a correlation to Audrey because I really care about life, and I care about everyone. I don't like it when the people around me aren't interested in things. That's the one thing about me that I'll never change, and I think that that's why I've never done an acting class or ever trained professionally in acting, but I take my life experiences into my job.

That's a great quality, especially for getting material for understanding experiences and translating that to your work. So I know you are a singer, you've been recording, and a lot of your other co-stars are multi-hyphenate talents, too. When you're not on set, when you're waiting around, do you ever sing or skateboard or explore other hobbies?

Yeah, of course. We're working insane hours right now, but I'm not a huge partier. I've always been an introverted extrovert. I love being alone so much. And I feel like during the pandemic, I was kind of thriving. I was in my element because I'm always finding stuff to do. I have an entire side thing going on with music and will be putting out my second single in June. People don't realise it, but half of the work is learning the lines and reading scripts all the time. It's pretty shit. Learning lines and preparing. So I find joy in that as well.

I love how you and Audrey are so different and that you're fully embodying this character. In the press stills that I've seen, Audrey is super high fashion and most closely aligned to the original Blair Waldorf in terms of her presentation of self. But I've read that you love vintage and thrifting and gravitate toward more of an androgynous style. Can you tell us about how you cultivated your personal style?

I grew up running around L.A., and actually, I was constantly travelling because I started working when I was four. So anywhere I would go, I always found a deep love in small businesses, whatever they were. I still do to this day. It feels like I found a home when I find a good vintage market or whatnot. And I think it's really fun, especially on road trips. I used to drive up to New Mexico a lot and San Juan and Santa Fe, and on the way there, my favourite kind of thrift stores are, a lot of the time, on the side of the road. And they're like a church sale, thrift store kind of stuff. I really love finding items that have already been worn or have a history to them. It feels like I'm wearing something that is so important and has been loved before. It's just a story to me. 

But I am an actor, so I love playing characters. Whenever I can change my look in any way or take on something completely opposite of me, it's always fun. And in this world, the Gossip Girl universe is such extreme fashion and such high fashion. A lot of the high-fashion brands that I'm obsessed with have such deep histories rooted in something that really changed the world, and I'm very grateful for it. I'm very grateful for Eric, our costume designer, because now I look at fashion as such an art form. It's so important to history and allows you to express yourself in so many ways. I love Saint Laurent because they made the first lady suit, and it was a stepping stone to the feminism that we see today. I've found such a love for fashion during all of this, but in my roots, I will always love the local thrift store. 

It sounds like you approach fashion as a learner, as a curious person, too.

Yeah, it's constant curiosity. My brain is weird!

Photo:

Vanessa Granda. STYLING: Dion Lee top and skirt; Chelsea Paris shoes

It's easy to spot Canadian actress Jordan Alexander in a crowd—whether that's on the Met steps filming a scene with her fellow Constance Billard classmates or, more recently, on a Calvin Klein billboard high above SoHo. Her closely cropped hair, doe-eyed gaze, and playful smile make the folk singer-songwriter and activist easy to follow in more ways than one. Comfortably clad in a hooded sweatshirt and track pants, she swapped stories with me over video at the end of a long day on set. 

Jordan, I was a huge fan of the original Gossip Girl series, so I've just been waiting to find out everything I can about the new era of Gossip Girl. Were you a fan of the original Gossip Girl show?

Yeah, totally. I remember watching it with my sisters. They really liked it as well.

Is there a character from the original that you identified with or emulated in terms of their style? 

I like saying Dorota because I was also a maid.

I love Dorota. I was waiting for it to be her all along. I mean, no spoilers, but that would have been amazing. So I know the premiere date is coming up in July. Now, you're able to talk a little bit about what people can expect from the new series, and I know it's been called a continuation, not a reboot. Can you share a bit more about that?

Yeah, I actually love how you said the new era because that's basically what it is. It still exists in that Gossip Girl world. All of our characters are fully aware of the past and what happened, which is super cool and fun because we're going to be experiencing the show that everybody fell in love with, but through a different lens of actually being in that world. I think it is really meta and cool.

So your character's name is Julien Calloway. We don't know a ton, but @gossipgirl posted on Instagram that Julien is described as "influence." All the characters are given one-word descriptors—I love it. I'm so intrigued. It's perfect for fans like me who want to play detective and figure everything out. But is that a note you were given during production, or is that more of the Gossip Girl marketing element sneaking in there?

Well, I think it's her vibe and potentially maybe even her persona. I think it's something that lives naturally in Julien. But then, she exports that out when she's being her business self or her public self. So I feel like this is a character that has two sides to her because she's her public self, like what I call an influencer vibe, and then there's her as a human being, as an individual.

Interesting. So what is a one-word descriptor that you would choose for yourself, Jordan, and what does that mean for you?

That's so hard because I want to do myself justice… expansive because I'm trying to incorporate the idea that I just want to keep expanding and growing. I don't want to maintain the limitations that I have today.

Photo:

Vanessa Granda. STYLING: Marni coat and skirt; Fleur du Mal bra; Tamara Mellon shoes

From the sneak peeks I've seen, Julien is extremely well versed in fashion—those cast photos on the Met steps just drove me wild. But you can tell that Julien and several of the other characters are wearing really current fashion and designers. Julien is wearing knee-high Schutz boots with her Constance Billard uniform, and there's that stunning Christopher John Rogers gown. How do you think these styling elements reflect Julien's power of influence? Does it mean she's literally a fashion influencer?

That is the vibe. Julien has just such a natural air about her that she's become almost like an accidental influencer. Like, she just happens. She's also extraordinarily wealthy and well-connected. So you know, there's that, but she just has this natural vibe to her, where things that she gravitates toward just happen to become super trendy, or maybe the way that she's presenting it, people really emulate that. That's her whole vibe. She's just one of those people. She's an It girl. Whatever it is, whatever she does, that’s the thing.

Almost in an older-school, Serena van der Woodsen kind of way. But Serena was less aware of her power, and Julien seems to have a little bit more control over this influence. Again, just from the photos I've seen. I could be extrapolating down a totally different path. 

No, she's savvy. She's savvy. She knows how to apply herself. She knows that she has that natural, raw element to her. And then, she can see how to capitalise on that, which is like the calculating element of Julien. It is naturally just within her. But she's also very aware of how to utilise that [and] how to wield her power and how to create the world that she wants to live in.

What about your personal style? How do you see that as similar to or different from Julien's?

I'm really, really, really comfort-based like 90% of the time. I am literally wearing snow pants right now. Basically, I don't like to be cold. My whole fashion is based on whether it's cold, but I like being really extra. And I think that Julien likes being really extra, too, so when I am doing that, I feel like we have similarities, and then when I'm bumming around, wearing sweatpants like 90% of the time, that's not very Julien. Julien would not be wearing sweatpants during COVID—she'd still have a look. Well, maybe she'd be wearing sweatpants, but it would be a ’fit. She would have meticulously crafted this sweatpant outfit. It'd be a thing.

I know you're also a singer-songwriter, and several of your co-stars are also multi-talented. When you're off-camera, does the cast share any of their other talents?

Totally. I know that Eli [Brown] and Tavi [Gevinson] have similar music tastes, and they're interested in making music together. Emily is always doing musical things because she's amazing. We went on a Thanksgiving trip upstate and made a song together, which was so cute. Emily played the ukulele, and we all went around the table adding a lyric. It was really fun.

That's so fun. So this might be just my weird fantasy, but given all the musical talents on the cast, do you think there's potential for a future fantasy musical episode? Or is that just a weird teen drama trope you think is passé?

I feel like I want everybody's imagination to live. I don't know where that would fit into Gossip Girl, but also, you never know. I think that all of us will be pursuing our musical endeavors, so there will be no shortage of it, even if it doesn't manifest itself on the show.

Now that you know New York City a bit better, is there a particular neighborhood or a borough that you, Jordan, identify with most as opposed to Julien's posh Upper East Side digs?

Bushwick?

Bushwick, yeah! What do you like about Bushwick? 

Well, recently, I was reading in the park by my house, and then I heard some music, and I walked over to see what it was, and it was this pop-up drag performance/trans visibility celebration. And it was so beautiful. And I was like, "Oh my gosh, yes! Anywhere this type of stuff is happening, put me there, please." So I feel like I'm in the right spot.

That brings me to my next question. You're a proud activist for the LGBTQIA+ community. Given that social media has made activism and awareness so much more visible than it was a decade ago, do you see these values reflected in the new era of Gossip Girl

Yeah, I do. I definitely do. I think that we have come a very long way, and we continue to have a long way to go. That's the thing about progress: It's a continuation. You don't arrive at a destination. I mean, maybe we would, and then that's utopia, but we are constantly pushing. You know what I mean? Maybe gays are more accepted. Okay, cool. Now, it's time to ride for our trans brothers and sisters and our trans siblings because it's not just that we got in the door. It's like, "Okay, now everybody else come on through." So yeah, I feel like this is a set that is placed in the now, and there's still progress to be made. But I feel like we're in a good spot.

The reveal of the cast, slowly announcing who had joined, and the beautiful group pictures illuminate that this era of Gossip Girl will reflect the diversity and values that are more mainstream, almost a decade later. For such an influential TV show, it feels like a really big step, so I'm glad that, as a member of the cast, you feel that's authentic to the storytelling as well.

I genuinely feel like a big effort is being made, and I'm happy about that. It's wonderful.

Photo:

Vanessa Granda. STYLING: Gauntlett Cheng dress; Rachael Wang Studio Archive shoes

You don't need Gossip Girl to tell you that model-turned-actress Zión Moreno is one to watch. She left home at age 19 to pursue a career in fashion, which took her around the world before this latest stint on the Upper East Side. Although she plays coy about her character's ambitions, we have a feeling there's a lot more up her expertly tailored sleeves. Fresh-faced and ready to take on the world, Zión spoke with us from her sunny, plant-filled home in North Brooklyn.

Zión, I'm so excited to be speaking with you today. You are the third Gossip Girl I've spoken to this week. I feel so lucky! Were you a fan of the original Gossip Girl show that came out in the 2000s?

I was! I watched it pretty religiously when I was in high school, so I was pretty stoked when I found out I got the role. I mean, I grew out of my Gossip Girl phase, but it was still a nice little nod to the nostalgia of my childhood past.

For me, it was appointment television. I was speaking with Jordan Alexander earlier this week, and we were talking about how we watched Gossip Girl with our sisters. 

That's so sweet. Yeah, my sister hated it. She would not have watched it with me. It was a very guilty pleasure. I kind of had to hide from her to watch it so she wouldn't make fun of me.

Was there a character you identified with or looked to in terms of style on the original Gossip Girl?

I didn't really feel like I identified with any of them. Maybe Dorota, honestly, on a personal level, but style-wise, I was always really infatuated with Serena. That followed me throughout my own style journey, and I still take inspiration from her looks sometimes. 

Dorota was definitely one of the more relatable characters. Everyone else is just so over-the-top. Blair and Serena would be walking around New York City wearing Louboutins, and you're just like, "Is that real life?"

I know! Who walks around New York City in high heels? You really just need to wear trainers or embrace a Birkenstock moment. 

So the premiere is officially coming up in July on HBO Max, finally. What can people expect from the new series, especially knowing that it's the same Gossip Girl world, but it's a continuation and not a reboot?

Right. There's been a big confusion with the whole reboot terminology. It's very much a continuation because it's still set in the same world. The original characters still exist in this world, and some of us refer to them in the show as well. So it's very much a continuation, but I think that people will find it to be a bit more with the times, if you will, just more diverse and original as well as more queer, which has been fun and also a little bit more scandalous. It can be more risqué since it's on HBO, so the directors and producers have taken that liberty to make it a little bit more raw and realistic. I think people will enjoy that it's a bit more adult.

So let's talk about your character, Luna La. I noticed on the Gossip Girl Instagram account that Luna is given the one-word descriptor of "style." Is that a note you received during production?

Yes. Well, not necessarily style but very fashion influenced. She is a stylist, and she's one of Julien Calloway's best friends. So she acts as her style right hand, if you will, and she helps her just look good. She's a really fun role to play. She's all things fashion, and she's very talented and really, really funny in her delusion of how the world works, too.

We've had a couple of peeks of Luna, but it's hard to tell what any of these characters will embody with just the stills from the Met steps or the social media posts. What does it mean to you to harness this energy of Luna La, fashion stylist? What does that mean to you in terms of how your character dresses or her presentation of self?

It's been really fun and very much a confidence booster for me to go on set because I'm pretty much guaranteed to look really nice. So it's really fun to play Luna, and I love all of her clothes. I think that, out of all the characters, her style is much more related to Serena from the original, which is fun for me because, you know, I loved Serena's style. Luna just has these amazing outfits that are genuinely fun to wear.

I know that you are working with Eric Daman, who did the costumes for the original, so that must be a nice thread of continuity. I was going to ask if Luna's moniker of style has some correlation to Blair's mom, Eleanor Waldorf, as an aspiring fashion designer, but you say she's approaching it more as a stylist, which feels like a very 2021 upgrade. 

Absolutely. You know, Luna is extremely talented. She's a seamstress as well, so she could call herself a fashion designer, but more than anything, she's a jack-of-all-trades. She can do it all. She's like this crazy guru that comes up with great ideas as a makeup artist and as a stylist. So she has a lot going for her. I don't think that she should be defined just as a fashion designer or anything like that.

I've been on my own Gossip Girl detective mission here trying to find out as much as I can about you and your character, so I love that you're sharing these little insights today. 

I can't say too much more… because they'll kill me. I want to tell you everything, but…

Photo:

Vanessa Granda. STYLING: Di Petsa outfit

So what is a one-word descriptor you would choose for yourself, Zión, and what does that mean to you?

I'd say "hopeful" would be my descriptor. I think, in my great aspiration for life to be amazing, I manifest a lot of beautiful things with hard work, and it's something that I'm really proud of with myself. No matter how difficult life can get, I'm still hopeful for a brighter future, and that also helps me fight for people that are marginalized like myself. So yeah, just hopeful for a better future. 

That's really beautiful. 

That's not to sound like a Miss America Pageant answer, but…

No, that's very thoughtful. 

Thank you. 

So let's talk a little bit more about you. You started as a model, and now, you're in this crazy Gossip Girl world of fashion. We discussed Serena being an icon in terms of personal style, but comparing yourself to how Luna La dresses, how do you think your style is different from your character's?

My own style? Well, I definitely cannot afford any of our clothes. So that's a big difference. It's funny because I feel like our style is very closely related. She's just a much more elevated version of who I am. She's still very feminine and soft, and I'm a big fan of cottagecore, if you will. I love looking like I just escaped from the Cotswolds and I'm running in the field. But like, my style is better. So she has that, too. But she also pulls out sexy outfits and elevates them and makes them look more expensive, whereas I'll just throw [on] a $5 dress and call it a day. Put some combat boots on and I'm a happy girl.

Have you found a lot of good thrifting spots since you've been in New York? 

I live in Brooklyn, so there are a plethora of amazing thrift stores here. I've maybe spent too much money thrifting—there are so many gems in the city. Also, I love the plant shops here. I'm becoming a plant hoarder. I have like 50 plants right now.

You've had a couple of roles where you play a high school student. What is it like for you to revisit this part of life from different characters' points of view? And what feels unique about this Constance Billard high school world within the greater Gossip Girl universe?

Yeah, I've played my fair share of high school students, so it'd be nice to play a college student or an adult for once, but I'll get there. I played a high school student in Control Z, which is a Mexican Netflix show. That one was particularly difficult because high school was just horrible for me, as I'm sure it is for most people. I just did not want to revisit that. Also, I was filming in a foreign country. I am Mexican American, and I had never actually lived in Mexico, so that was cool to fully immerse myself in that culture. But I felt like a fish out of water, too. Then, revisiting something so vulnerable for me was extremely difficult, but it became empowering because it healed a lot of my trauma, which was cool.

Constance Billard is different because it's just fun. It's silly. It's a fantasy world. And all of us are out of high school in real life, so it's pretty funny to revisit it together and see the different variations of how we deal with it. But it doesn't really feel like high school. We're wearing these crazy-expensive outfits—you would never do that in high school—and always fresh blowouts. It's just a fantasy, so it's just been really fun. I don't think about it as playing a high school student.

It seems like you and the cast as a whole have become super close over filming, especially given all the COVID restrictions. Have you fallen in love with different parts of New York City? Or what do you like about New York that's maybe different from the Upper East Side world of Gossip Girl?

Gossip Girl is very Upper East Side–centric, and it's funny because none of us ever hang out there. It's kind of dead right now. There's not a lot of fun things to do at the moment. But I love New York City. I always have. I used to live here five years ago when I was a model, and it just feels like you live everywhere at once. There's everything in New York. You can find little random stores, like a random Greek store that you never thought you would go into, and then come upon the most amazing Greek food or Chinese food or Mexican food, whatever it is. There are just so many hidden gems. It's just a multiverse of beautiful experiences. It's just such a special place. But I truly love Brooklyn. I think it's a special borough. That's what's the coolest right now in New York City. You know, it's not really the city anymore. It's all about Brooklyn.  

I want to talk about this new era of Gossip Girl and how social media has made diversity and activism so much more visible than it was a decade ago. Do you see these values reflected in the new class of Gossip Girl?

Yeah, I definitely see it. Most of the characters in the show are queer and are people of color, so it's a reflection of modern culture and how queerness is not really the other anymore and never really has been. It's just the norm. I think that the show will allow a lot of people to view these otherwise taboo kinds of concepts as normal. So I'm excited for people to see it, and I can't wait to see what people say or how they relate to us. And hopefully, they like how we interpret the human experience.

It has been really exciting to see the stills—everyone is so beautiful, and obviously, the styling is amazing—but that was a very big takeaway and an exciting one for a fan of the original to see and say, "Wow, this is a diverse and representative cast that feels like today." Not to imply that these conversations or these marginalized groups did not exist and were not a part of the previous Gossip Girl world, but they certainly weren't front and center. That's a really smart update they've made that feels current. It's still always going to be a fantasy, but this feels a little bit more reflective of our world today. 

Yeah, I think so, too. I'm really excited. I think that the industry just still has a long way to go, but I'm excited for this to open doors that otherwise were closed and to see how it flushes out into true, 100% representation of everyone.

Gossip Girl Official Teaser

There you have it, Upper East Siders… and everyone else out there on the World Wide Web. Gossip Girl is coming back, not with a vengeance but with a vision that includes not only the latest and greatest in fashion and titillating teenage drama that we've come to expect but also an ensemble of diverse actors who truly reflect the ethos of Gen Z. We can't wait to see what this extraordinary new cast of characters gets up to this summer on HBO Max. Unfortunately, that's one secret these lovely ladies refused to tell! But rest assured: You know you'll love it. XOXO.

Photo:

Vanessa Granda

Photographer: Vanessa Granda for Who What Wear

Stylist: Rachael Wang

Emily's Hairstylist: DJ Quintero

Jordan's Hairstylist: Dana Boyer

Zión's Hairstylist: Owen Gould

Emily's Makeup Artist: Kale Teter

Jordan's Makeup Artist: Ernest Robinson 

Zión's Makeup Artist: Brittany Whitfield

Manicurist: Arlene Hinckson

Creative Director: Alexa Wiley

Videographer: Samuel Schultz 

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