Tuesday was hectic for Emily Alyn Lind and the new Gossip Girl cast. “It’s just, we were filming at the Met steps. So it was a nuts-o day,” she tells BAZAAR.com over the phone. The front steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art are hallowed ground in the Gossip Girl universe—an iconic meeting place for the famous Upper East Side teens of the original CW series, which first aired in 2007. So for this next generation of cool kids to gather at the same spot for HBO Max’s spin-off years later is huge. The first photo of the cast together on the steps surfaced last November, nearly breaking the Internet. Ever since, the stream of paparazzi photos emerging from set has become a show of its own.
“The first time we were there, it was the first time that we were all together as a group and being photographed or seen in public,” Lind says. “So it was crazy, everyone was jumping on it, there were people from left and right. And it was the first time we really had paparazzi for the show, just because everything else had been filmed at the stages and we just happened to all be together. So it was really cool. I think in that moment, I was looking at the cast mates and I was just like, ‘What the fuck? This is going to be possibly the next six years of our life, Jesus!’”
Luckily, the paps are being respectful of the cast and crew’s boundaries, 18-year-old Lind explains, speaking from the peace and quiet of her Park Slope apartment. If anything, production is more concerned about being safe in the pandemic than having snapping cameras interrupt a scene. “Everyone on our show is tested every single day. So we were really in a safe environment, and we’ve had no cases,” she says.
After starring in The Secret Life of Bees and Revenge in her younger years, Lind was cast in Gossip Girl a year ago, marking the first name revealed from the bunch of rising talents rounding out the show: Jordan Alexander, Savannah Smith, Zión Moreno, Tavi Gevinson, Whitney Peak, Eli Brown, Thomas Doherty, and Evan Mock. Over the months of filming, the gang has already bonded. “All of us are so close—too close. It’s sickening, it’s gross,” Lind jokes. “It’s so hard being in New York with these clowns and not being able to just run around the city. … But we all just want to go to plays and go to dinners with all of the crew, but hopefully soon enough, that’ll come our way.”
As for how much longer the cast will be filming, details remain under wraps. “It’s all up in the air right now,” Lind says, adding that the pandemic could still affect their production schedule. “I try to just take it day by day.”
The day before filming at the Met this week, Lind did what all stylish up-and-comers do: attend Fashion Week, albeit remotely. Attending Dior’s virtual fall 2021 show, she suited up for her remote appearance in a plaid jacket over a peekaboo bralette, cropped black trousers, and calf-high boots. Over her wavy blonde hair (her natural hair is a bob, but she wore extensions for the show), she wore a silk Dior bandana.
“I can never go wrong with a lady suit, and this one had a nice little spin on it,” she says. “I guess I dress a little bit more androgynous in my personal life, and that’s true. I really like androgynous clothing, and this one just drew me to it. It’s very feminine at the same time.”
As a longtime fashion lover, Lind has always been a fan of Dior, but she’s also a vintage enthusiast who frequents Goodwill. Since moving from L.A. to New York to film Gossip Girl, she’s been hitting up Raggedy Threads (she walks to the Williamsburg storefront from Park Slope) and Front General Store in Brooklyn. “I know a lot of people don’t like thrifting. … I’ve had friends, they were like, ‘It smells like old people, it smells like dust mites, it smells like mold,’ all these things. And I’m like, ‘Dude, that smells like history.’”
Lind likes pieces with history, things that will last. “If I’m at a thrift store that also has items, I love when I find pictures, sometimes they’ll have literal scrapbooks,” she gushes. And as a musician, she has the same approach when composing: She prefers writing her songs down on paper. “It’s all you are, your art. It’s parts of you,” she says.
Here, Lind talks style and what to expect from the next era of Gossip Girl.
How would you describe your personal style?
I think that for me, it’s whatever I feel confident in. That tends to, a lot of the time, go into gender-neutral, I guess you could say, fashion statements. I really like gender-neutral fashion. I just always have. A lot of style icons for me are men.
Personally, my biggest thing is that I’ve always loved vintage clothing. So there’s this place in New York, I don’t know if you also like to vintage shop, but it’s called Raggedy Threads. And they have a lot of really cool old French workwear that I’m obsessed with. And other than that, just a lot of items make me happy and clothing makes me happy when it has history behind it. And whether that’s the brand itself that has history behind it that I like to celebrate or the actual item of clothing, I think fashion is total art in itself. And I’m learning more and more about it every day that I’m doing this show I’m on, because that’s the world that we’re 100 percent in. But I think it’s just so important to really, as an artistic field, is to really delve into more than just what people think of clothing.
It’s not just something you wear on your back, it’s an expression of how you feel inside. It’s an expression of who you are and also an expression of the times and the history behind that brand.
I think that’s also why it’s really important to really do your research on brands that you’re wearing, because I feel with makeup, per se—social media actually helped me with this, because there’s so much research online about these things—outing the brands that do test on animals and figuring out which brands are sustainable or all of these things are so important, just as much as the history of the brands and what they stand for. It feels like that’s what gives me confidence wearing clothes. It’s not about the name for me. If a brand just has a really big name and everyone else loves it, but I don’t like what they stand for, I don’t feel like they’re real, I don’t feel special in their clothing in the way that I’m representing that as well as myself, then I’d rather wear something from Goodwill, which I do. I love Goodwill.
From what I’ve seen in the photos, your character, Audrey, seems to be a little more on the preppy side. What was your impression of her wardrobe or the wardrobe of the show overall? And did you have a hand in dressing yourself?
People say preppy, I think it’s just because what people are seeing is us in all of our school wear. Eric [Daman], our costume designer from the original Gossip Girl, is so genius in the way that he goes about styling an everyday school look into a beautiful [outfit] every single day.
It’s genius, honestly.
And we have a different outfit every day. And even the background artists are always wearing something different. There’s so much work and effort put into it and it’s so spot on. But, yeah, I think that actually Audrey, she’s very into classic, old-fashion type things. So maybe lots of vintage, but she loves old movies, she loves Betty Davis, she loves Lauren Bacall, she loves Audrey Hepburn, she’s very into the finer things in life, I guess you would say. She just loves classics. She’s not meant to be in this generation, as someone might say. I think that she doesn’t use social media as much, she likes reading books. So I think that she has a very classic look.
And I really try to stick in pieces of me as well. I love Saint Laurent, I love Dior. I really like Miu Miu, and Chanel, obviously. It’s so fun when I see a Dior or YSL bag or something [in a fitting]. Because I’m like, “I would wear that and it’s just fun.” I’m also keeping it honest with the character.
It’s interesting that the show now is a commentary on social media, in a way. But before Instagram existed, there was Gossip Girl basically foretelling how it would all go down.
Yeah. I think that was kind of creepy. Thinking about how just 10 years ago, this stuff wasn’t even … I don’t really want to watch the old show, just because we’re not doing the same show. We’re doing a continuation, not a reboot. So it’s different characters and whatnot. But I have seen, obviously, clips all the time. It’s just something as small as the phones they’re carrying and the way that it affected them and all the apps that you would never know exist. It was, like, the beginning, that’s why it’s evolved, because the feeling that people got was, “Oh, my God, what if there was a world in which gossip could be so into … .” And that’s the world we’re living in now. It predicted the future.
I think that that’s also another cool thing with this show, is working with the people who created the original and seeing and then trying to go from there and with this new world. Because their entire thing in the first show was surrounded by the fact that there was a blog, and social media was just rising up to become what it has today. And now, there’s so much more to have to touch on, because you’re touching on something everyone’s doing. No one wants to be told that they’re doing something wrong. This is touching on real life, what we’re doing right now.
You said you didn’t want to rewatch any of the old episodes, but are there any favorite looks that stood out to you or that come to mind when you think of Gossip Girl?
All of it really. Obviously, Gossip Girl, you see it everywhere. The one thing I really liked is that it was very important to Eric to make every character’s fashion sense and what they wore an extension of that character, which is really hard a lot of the times to stay consistent with that and change with the times, but also change with the times like the characters would. … I think that he just killed it. Obviously, the first show, a large part of it was the way that they celebrated fashion and the way that such young people were learning [about fashion]. It’s like when you watch a show like Grey’s Anatomy and all these kids are like, “It’s been 1,200 seasons, I could perform heart surgery myself!”
Yeah, like Law & Order.
Yeah, exactly! You know all these terms. That’s what it was. It was defining part of the generation. It was fashion, but it was also feelings and stuff like that, and things that people didn’t talk about. I think that they did a fine job with that. In this show, in 2021, I think that that’s really important to our show creator and to all the people involved, that we try to incorporate a lot of elements and a lot of times that’ll maybe come through fashion in a weird way. People are listening to us. We have a duty to not just only touch on one aspect, which is fashion or young people or the fact that we’re rich in the show or anything like that.
I think that how this show is going to be a little different than the original is we’re going to use those outlets to talk about other things as well, important things, and not just show one side of the story—not just say this is bad, but just explain it in a way that it shows you both sides and that people can make the decision for themselves. I just think that we have a duty to bring what people want to see because they want to see fun, all these things. But at the same time, bring a message, or at least try to talk about real shit.
When you mention “these things,” are you talking about real-life experiences in youth culture? What do you mean there?
Yeah. I think that that’s exactly what I’m saying. There are not a lot of times people are really honest about how it feels just to be a kid. I feel like it’s always coming from a perspective of someone that was, and then isn’t, and then they’re seeing it in a twisted way. Gossip Girl, especially the original, feels more like you’re walking into a fantasy, unless you’re them, which I don’t know anyone like that.
But I feel like there’s also a way to really relate with these characters and understand that even the fact that they do have money or they do have nice clothing or things do look easier for them, the other side of that might actually be the worst thing in the world for them. The answer is basically never money, or status. It’s about the people that you have around you. And I think that this show really explores that and explores friendships in a way that are really open and understanding.
We—especially kids, these are the teenagers—I think that we’re growing into a standard that we need to talk to each other and make sure we’re all okay. It’s so important. If you have friends, they need to be checking in on you. And not all the time. COVID’s been really hard for me in that state, but accepting you and figuring things out with you. Talking about things that they didn’t show in TV shows, that they never talked about, kids have always talked about these things. Kids have always been questioning who they are, or realizing who they are and not having the right support system. Feelings are all over the place.
But we just never showed it, because adults treat kids or teenagers like, “Oh, I remember when I was like that. I didn’t know.” But, no, in the moment, you’re feeling just as intense. Your feelings are just as intense as they are when you’re an adult. It’s just relative. When you’re a kid, you’re still feeling those intense emotions, just like you do for something now. It’s just you didn’t have a life experience. So it was different. But, yeah, I hope that our show [does that], and I think it will. And I hope that people like it, because I think it does try to be just straight up.
You’re keeping it real.
And it’s also so fun. That’s the thing. We can keep it real, and we can still have fucking fun.
Photography by Lucas Garrido | Videography by Sam Dahman | Hair by Mia Santiago | Makeup by Misha Shahzada | Digital Fashion Director, Kerry Pieri | Entertainment Director, Nojan Aminosharei | Designer, Ingrid Frahm | Supervising Video Producer, Kathryn Rice | Video Editor & Colorist, Erica Dillman