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Actress Was Born In Prison

March 23, 2012 by staff 

Actress Was Born In Prison, Leighton Marissa Meester (born April 9, 1986) is an American actress and singer. Meester first garnered attention and critical acclaim for playing Blair Waldorf in the CW television series Gossip Girl. She most recently appeared in the 2010 country drama film Country Strong, the 2011 thriller The Roommate, and the 2011 romantic-comedy Monte Carlo.

Meester was born in Fort Worth, Texas, to Constance and Douglas Meester and lived most of her life in New York City and Los Angeles. Meester’s last name means “master” or “teacher” in Dutch.

Her mother was serving time in a federal prison for her involvement in a drug ring that smuggled marijuana from Jamaica to the United States. 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.

Meester has maintained that her parents gave her a normal upbringing and, despite their criminal past, are good people with experience that has only made Meester more open-minded and non-judgmental, “It made me realize that you can’t judge anyone – especially your parents – for what they’ve done in their past, because people change.” Meester has joked, “Look, I could’ve turned out a lot worse.” She has cited her mother as her style icon.

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 film maker) 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.

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