Willa Holland has a lot to live up to.
Especially considering that Gossip Girl's last two major female guest stars have unearthed Serena van der Woodsen’s dark secrets (Michelle Trachtenberg as Georgina) and bedded / blackmailed Nate Archibald (Madchen Ameck as Catherine).
Holland, a 17-year-old L.A. native, hit the Upper East Side for the first of three Gossip Girl episodes Monday, and we've already seen what impact her character - a model named Agnes - had on Jenny Humphrey and her design aspirations.
If she looks familiar, that’s because Willa Holland played Marissa Cooper’s mischievous little sister Kaitlin on The OC, also the brainchild of Gossip Girl producer Josh Schwartz. Here's what she had to say to the L.A. Times about Agnes ...
LAT: Tell us about your character on Gossip Girl.
Willa Holland: 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.
Actress Willa Holland of The OC and now Gossip Girl.
LAT: Would you say she has more of a good or bad influence over Jenny?
Willa Holland: 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.LAT: The show gets a lot of attention. Did you get a sense of the frenzy surrounding it while on set?
Willa Holland: 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.
LAT: Since you play a model, you must have gotten a taste of Gossip Girl fashion…
Willa Holland: 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.
LAT: What’s the story behind Steven Spielberg’s role in launching your acting career?
Willa Holland: 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.