"Gossip Girl" Actor Jessica Szohr Opened Up About The Backlash Her Character, Vanessa, Got

·3 min read

If you haven't already heard, a new Gossip Girl podcast just launched — it's hosted by none other than Jessica Szohr, who played Vanessa Abrams.

Vanessa sitting on a bed wearing a snakeskin-print top, shiny leggings, and a belt
CW Network / Courtesy Everett Collection

If you watched the OG Gossip Girl back in the day, you know Vanessa's character got a lot of backlash from fans. While some viewers liked her and her relationships with Dan and Nate, others really, really hated her.

Vanessa lying on a bed while wearing a strapless dress and a necklace
CW Network/Courtesy Everett Collection

In a recent interview with Teen Vogue, Jessica talked about the response Vanessa got and how she felt about it.

Jessica at a red carpet event
Rodin Eckenroth / FilmMagic / Getty Images

It's worth acknowledging that Vanessa was one of the very few non-white characters on the original Gossip Girl.

A promo photo of the Gossip Girl cast minus Vanessa, outside with the New York City skyline behind them
Andrew Eccles / CW Network / Courtesy Everett Collection

"I feel like [Vanessa] definitely got the short end of the stick," Jessica said. She explained that she has mixed feelings about the character and the way she was written at times.

  CW Network / Courtesy Everett Collection
CW Network / Courtesy Everett Collection

"Vanessa was funny to me because there were so many parts of her that I really liked," Jessica said. "There were other parts where I would think 'Why is she on the Upper East Side again?' When she hooked up with Chuck, I was thinking, 'Why hook up with Chuck? Why is Chuck hooking up with her?'"

Vanessa hugging Chuck
Giovanni Rufino / CW Network / Courtesy Everett Collection

"Some of the stuff that was written [in the show] was cringe-worthy and was annoying. So if I annoyed you and you cringed at Vanessa, then I was doing my job, because some of the stuff was that way," Jessica said.

Jessica and Penn Badgley embracing
Cw Network / Courtesy Everett Collection

When asked how she felt about the hate Vanessa got from fans back in the day, Jessica revealed that she actually didn't read most of the commentary.

Vanessa sitting at a show next to a man
Giovanni Rufino / The CW / Courtesy Everett Collection

"I don't really look at comments and read those type of things just because when the show hit, there were so many opinions," Jessica said. "I didn't read a bunch of comments because if people are being harsh or weird, I'm not going to spend my time looking at that. For me, not worth my time. I was bringing her to life the best that I could with what was written, and if you didn't like it, then I think I was doing my job."

Jessica wearing a leather-like top and matching skirt with leather-like knee-high boots
Craig Barritt / Getty Images for ReedPOP / Getty Images

Ultimately, Jessica understands the mixed reactions but still has a lot of empathy for Vanessa's character. "I do think fans were testy with Vanessa, and that's okay," Jessica said. "There were things that deserved that, for what she did, but also when you play someone, you also feel for them."

Vanessa smiling at a formal event while wearing a beaded and satin dress
CW Network / Courtesy Everett Collection

Jessica also emphasized how fans need to remember to separate her from her character. "Even if there are bits and pieces of us in these characters, I'm not Vanessa, Vanessa's not me," Jessica said. "I remember being in Italy once and this girl came up and she said, 'How could you?' and I said, 'What are you talking about?' I literally looked at her like I didn't know what was going on. She called me Vanessa."

Vanessa standing in front of a table while exchanging a set of keys
Giovanni Rufino / The CW / Courtesy Everett Collection

When it comes down to it, Jessica said she did her best with what she was given for Vanessa. "At the end of the day, we were actors bringing these characters to life and just doing our job," Jessica said. "What was written on the page is what I was bringing to the screen."

Jessica smiling at the camera while posing on the red carpet of an event
Kristin Callahan / Everett Collection

You can read the full interview here and listen to the first episode of Jessica's podcast here. XOXO!