Jessica Szohr recalls fan backlash against her 'Gossip Girl' character Vanessa: 'If you didn't like it, then I think I was doing my job'

·3 min read

Jessica Szohr is taking a sassy stroll down memory lane.

The actress, 36, is host of the new Gossip Girl podcast, XOXO, where she discusses an array of cultural issues while interviewing members of the CW show's cast and creative team.

In a new interview with Teen Vogue, Szohr couldn’t help herself but share a few anecdotes about life on set — and how her Gossip Girl character, Vanessa Abrams, made an impact on fans.

“When the show hit, there were so many opinions, and at the end of the day, I was playing this character and bringing her to life," Szohr said, admitting that "some of the stuff that was written [in the show] was cringe-worthy and was annoying."

"If I annoyed you and you cringed at Vanessa then I was doing my job, because some of the stuff was that way," she said. "On the other end, Vanessa was also a relatable character in the sense of there's a very small percentage of people that live on the Upper East Side and have these thousand dollar bags and drive limos to school. Most of the world can't relate to that."

“Vanessa grounded [the show] and brought this thing where she had a regular job and had to work for her money and didn't go on these crazy trips and wear these crazy outfits," Szohr explained of her character. "But Vanessa was funny to me because there were so many parts of her that I really liked. There were other parts where I would think 'Why is she on the Upper East Side again?'"

Still, at the end of the day, "We’re all just characters acting," she said. "Even if there are bits and pieces of us in these characters, I'm not Vanessa, Vanessa's not me."

That message didn't register for some, as evidenced by one obsessed fan who cornered the actress.

"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?'" Szohr recalled. "I literally looked at her like I didn't know what was going on. She called me Vanessa. People feel like they know you and they feel like they have, I don't know if it's authority, but that they can feel some sort of way towards you. Whether it's the character or me as an actor. At the end of the day, we were actors bringing these characters to life and just doing our job. What was written on the page is what I was bringing to the screen."

Despite the frenzy her character created among the show's fan base, Szohr feels like Vanessa got the "short end of the stick" at the end of the day.

"I do think fans were testy with Vanessa, and that's OK," she said. "There were things that deserved that, for what she did, but also when you play someone, you also feel for them. That's probably why 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."