What’s So Great About…Leighton Meester?

Blondes may have more fun, but on Gossip Girl, it’s this brunette who has all the fun. Leighton Meester, 22, is truly captivating as the manipulative Blair Waldorf. She’s also a songbird with an upcoming album release.

Playing a vixen on a hit show means her scandals aren’t just relegated to her character on TV. Leighton’s unusual family background—being born while her mother was serving a sentence for drug smuggling, her brother’s rape case when he was attending the Air Force Academy—has received the kind of high-profile coverage that never would have existed if not for her fame.

Being in the limelight sure has its downside. But Meester remains upbeat and focused for a person of her age and stature, telling Seventeen magazine:

“I’ve noticed some people get very enthralled with people bashing. Sometimes people can’t help themselves. But I find a way back out and not talk about other people. Even when people are so judgmental about what you wear or your weight, you just have to step away and be like, ‘I’m a normal, fine human being.”

So focused, in fact, that she doesn’t really have time for men, either. “I haven’t ever really relied on relationships with guys. I’ve only ever really been with a couple of them. They come around and it’s cool, but it’s never been a big thing. I guess I’ve just been really distracted by work.”

Though it was rumored that she was engaged to her long-term beau, Sebastian Stan, Meester has little time for romance. In her short life, she’s starred in a bevy of heavy-hitting TV shows like Surface, Entourage, CSI: Miami, and 24, just to name a few.

Meester’s been all over the place with her recent emergence as a Hollywood superstar.  From gracing the covers of a multitude of magazines, to putting out her first album, it’s hard to imagine how she gets any down time. And her star is just beginning to rise.