Leighton Meester: Pretty Baby
CONVERSATIONS (The Philippine Star) - June 10, 2012 - 12:00am

There’s something Philippine in Leighton Meester (as you will find out by and by), the newest A-lister addition to Penshoppe’s roster of All-Stars campaign, including recent visitor Ian Somerhalder (the “bad boy” of the hit US series The Vampire Diaries), Ed Westwick (of the likewise hit US series Gossip Girl), Zac Efron (whose last starrer was The Lucky One, based upon the Nicholas Sparks best-seller) and Thai pop star Mario Maurer (now shooting Suddenly It’s Magic for Star Cinema, with Erich Gonzales as leading lady).

“There are several more ‘A-list’ endorsers coming,” revealed Joyce Ramirez, head of PR Asia Worldwide, who conceptualized the campaign and finalized the contracts with the Penshoppe All-Stars endorsers. “Watch for them.”

Leighton flew in from last week of May (the 25th) in time for the Penshoppe’s Philippine Fashion Week event the next day and left barely 48 hours later as quietly as she came. Conversations did a free-wheeling one-on-one with her at the presidential suite of Manila Peninsula where she, like Ian the week before, was billeted.

Asked how she felt about her first visit to the Philippines, Leighton smiled, hardly showing any signs of jetlag even after a long haul from the US, “I’ve been looking forward to this visit. My best friend is a Filipino. She and her mom have been telling me interesting things about the Philippines. It’s hot here but I like the weather.”

She hardly had any make-up on, dressed only in a beige sleeveless Penshoppe shirt over a short Penshoppe skirt of the same color. But still, Leighton mesmerized even without her trying to, in the same easy manner that she does in playing Blair Waldorf in Gossip Girl that gives her a chance to showcase her fashion flair.

Born on April 9, 1986, in Fort Worth, Texas, Leighton spent part of her childhood in Marco Island, Florida, where she participated in a local playhouse. When Leighton (her surname, Meester is Dutch for “master” or “teacher”) was 11, she moved with her mother to New York where, as a grown-up, she started working as a model before venturing into singing and acting, making her debut as a murder victim’s friend in an episode of Law & Order in 1999. More TV and movie assignments followed. She will be seen next in the comedy That’s My Boy with Adam Sandler.

Since October 2010, Leighton has been a member of a band called Check in the Dark with which she announced in her Twitter that she would go on a five-city concert tour.

“I’m just having fun singing and writing songs from my heart,” said Leighton who named Neil Young and Joni Mitchell among her influences. “I like their style of music and the way they also sing from the heart.”

You model, act and sing. How do you find time for all these activities?

“Hmmmmm, well, I don’t know. Maybe I don’t have time for anything else but those activities. If I’m modeling, I focus my mind on modeling, if I’m acting I focus my mind on acting and if I’m singing I focus my mind on singing. That’s how it is.”

I’m curious…When did you realize that you are beautiful?

“Hmmmmm, I don’t know. When I was little, my mom would often say to me, ‘Hi, pretty girl!’ But growing up, I’ve never really thought about that. I’ve never really given it too much importance or anything.”

How do you feel when you look at the mirror?

“I just see myself as I am, whether I’m made up or not. I don’t think there’s anything extraordinary about how I look. I’m happy with myself and I’m proud of myself.”

How do you feel being considered one of the most beautiful, one of the most glamorous and one of the sexiest women in the world?

“Well, I don’t really look at myself that way but if that’s how people consider me, then I accept the ‘honor,’ thank you, but I don’t let it go to my head.”

You’re a fashion icon. Where or from whom did you get your taste for nice clothes?

“I really learned a lot about fashion in New York. In my show, there’s a lot of fashion.”

Oh, you mean Gossip Girl, of course!

“Yes, Gossip Girl.”

You’re perfect for the role. How are you similar to or different from Blair Waldorf?

“She’s actually a funny character who has a lot of class. And she’s grounded. Actually, I’m nothing like her. She grew up with a lot of money, somewhat spoiled and immature in some ways, and I’m not like that at all.”

As a Penshoppe endorser, you will wear the brand in your shows, I suppose.

“Yes, I will! As you can see, I’m wearing one now and I’m comfortable in it.”

How do you keep that kind of body? What kind of diet do you follow, what workout do you do and how much sleep do you get per night?

“The thing is accepting what you are, and eat right and healthy. And be active. That’s all I do. I practice yoga. I don’t work out that much, really.”

As a model for Wilhelmina, you once had a pictorial with Sofia Coppola who was then a photographer (and who was acclaimed for Lost In Translation which she directed by Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson as stars). How would you like to do a movie with her?

I was very young then, I was only 14. I’ve never seen her again since then. But I saw Lost in Translation and I love it! I’m sure someday we‘re going to work together again.”

Your Gossip Girl co-star Ed Westwick is also a Penshoppe endorser. In fact, he came here last year for the shoot. What did he tell you about the Philippines?

“Well, he told me how beautiful the country is. He said, ‘Go, it’s great out there! It’s awesome!’ He told me many more interesting things about the Philippines.” (Besides Gossip Girl, Leighton has also worked with Westwick in a Nikon Coolpix series camera advertisement and both of them were endorsers for a Korean clothing line.)

Could you tell us about your movie, That’s My Boy?  

Leighton (center) with the cast of the hit US TV show Gossip Girl: I am entirely different from Blair Waldorf, the character that I play. She’s actually a funny character who has a lot of class, who grew up with a lot of money, somewhat spoiled and immature in some ways. I’m not like that.

“It’s very funny and it’s coming out soon. It’s awesome acting with Adam Sandler.”

If you were to change anything in your life what would it be?

“I’m enjoying a good karma and I’m very, very lucky. I’m happy with what I’m doing, so I don’t think I would change anything.”

(E-mail reactions at entphilstar@yahoo.com. You may also send your questions to askrickylo@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.)

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