Ben Leighton Biography & Facts
Leighton Marissa Meester (born April 9, 1986) is an American actress, singer, and model. She is best known for her starring role as the devious socialite Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl on The CW (2007–2012). She has also appeared in films such as Killer Movie (2008), Country Strong (2010), The Roommate (2011), Monte Carlo (2011), The Oranges (2011) and The Judge (2014). Meester made her Broadway debut in Of Mice and Men (2014). She portrayed Angie D'Amato on the ABC sitcom Single Parents (2018–2020).
In addition to acting, Meester has ventured into music. After a featuring in top ten Billboard Hot 100 single Cobra Starship's "Good Girls Go Bad", she released her solo singles under Universal Republic label "Somebody to Love" in 2009 and "Your Love's a Drug" in 2010. Meester has also recorded songs for various soundtracks. Her debut album, Heartstrings, was independently released in 2014. She has also modeled, having been the face of the Jimmy Choo, Herbal Essences, and Vera Wang brands.
Meester was born in Fort Worth, Texas, to Constance Lynn (née Haas) and Douglas Jay Meester. Her father is a real estate broker; her mother is a writer. She has two brothers: an older brother, Douglas Logan Meester (born 1983), and a younger brother, Alexander "Lex" Meester (born 1994). At the time of her birth, Meester's parents were serving time in a federal prison for their involvement in a drug ring that smuggled marijuana from Jamaica to the United States. Constance 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. Her paternal grandparents cared for Meester during this period. She has maintained that her parents gave her a normal upbringing and, despite their criminal past, has stated, "It made me realize that you can't judge anyone—especially your parents—for what they've done in their past, because people change." She grew up in Marco Island, Florida, where she participated in productions at a local playhouse. Her parents separated in 1992.When she was 11 years old, Meester and her siblings moved with their mother to New York City. She attended the Professional Children's School and began working as a model with Wilhelmina, booking a Ralph Lauren campaign shot by Bruce Weber, and working with then-photographer Sofia Coppola. Meester also booked commercials for Tamagotchi and Clearasil, and modeled for Limited Too alongside Amanda Seyfried. At age 14, she relocated to Los Angeles and attended Hollywood and Beverly Hills High Schools. Meester then transferred to a small private school and graduated a year earlier than normal.
2003–2007: Career beginnings
Meester made her acting debut in 1999 as a murder victim's friend, Alyssa Turner, on an episode of Law & Order. Following this, she made her film debut in Hangman's Curse (2003), based on the bestselling book by Frank Peretti. She had a series regular role in Tarzan, which aired for only eight episodes. A recurring role in Entourage as Justine Chapin and Veronica Mars as Carrie Bishop followed in 2004 and 2005. Meester booked guest roles in the series Crossing Jordan, 8 Simple Rules, 7th Heaven and 24. She was cast as series regular in Surface as Savannah Barnett.In 2006, Meester appeared in two films, Flourish and Inside. She also guest starred in an episode of Numbers and appeared in two episodes of House as Ali Johnson, a teenager who has a crush on Gregory House. She then had guest roles on CSI: Miami and Shark, and portrayed the female lead in the horror film Drive-Thru, for which she recorded the song "Inside the Black". Meester was cast as identical twin sisters Kayla and Kelly Rhodes in the ABC crime-drama series Secrets of a Small Town, but the network decided not to forward the series.
2007–2012: Gossip Girl and music ventures
In 2007, Meester was cast in The CW's teen drama series Gossip Girl as Blair Waldorf, based on the book series of the same name by Cecily von Ziegesar. She first auditioned for the role of Serena van der Woodsen, but told the producers that she could better play Blair. However, it was important that Serena was blonde and Blair was brunette, so Meester dyed her hair brown for the role. Her performance was the most critically acclaimed of the show, with Blair being cited as the series' breakout character. She also garnered media attention for her wardrobe on the show. The series ended after six seasons and 120 episodes. Meester later starred in the television film The Haunting of Sorority Row, and had a role in the ensemble comedy-drama film Remember the Daze. In 2008, she appeared in the horror-thriller film Killer Movie and reprised her role in Entourage singing with Tony Bennett in the episode.Early in 2009, Meester partnered with Reebok to model their new Top Down sneakers. Apart from Gossip Girl, Meester worked with co-star Ed Westwick in a Nikon Coolpix series camera advertisement, and both were the faces of the Korean clothing line ASK Enquired. 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. Meester provided vocals on Cobra Starship's song "Good Girls Go Bad", which peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100. In July, "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. She recorded a cover of the song "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" for the compilation album A Very Special Christmas 7.Her second single, "Your Love's a Drug", was digitally released on March 30, 2010, and she is also featured on Stephen Jerzak's song "She Said". 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" and Jesse McCartney wrote another song. The album was produced by Polow Da Don, Harvey Mason Jr., and Spencer Nezey. Meester began working on it in March 2009 and the album was initially projected to be released in the fall of 2009, but was later delayed to early 2010. It was pushed back again to late 2010, and was ultimately shelved.
Meester had small roles in the comedies Date Night and Going the Distance. She then starred with Gwyneth Paltrow and Garrett Hedlund in the country music drama Country Strong. Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe described Meester as the best part of the film, writing, "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." Claudia Puig of USA Today was also positive, stating "Meester shows sh.... Discover the Ben Leighton popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Ben Leighton books.