Emily Alyn Lind is only 19 years old, but on the phone she sounds wise beyond her years. That’s not just because of her low, husky voice or the fact she’s been working in Hollywood since 2008. (Her mom, Barbara Alyn Woods, is an actor herself, best known for playing Deb Scott on One Tree Hill.) Throughout our 30-minute conversation, she dropped several pearls of wisdom, things I wish I would’ve known at 19. Given this, I’m confident she’ll navigate her newfound fame well. She is too.
Lind is one of the stars of HBO Max’s Gossip Girl, a shiny new reimagining of the mid-aughts classic with different characters, storylines, everything. (Well, not everything: Kristen Bell is back as the voice of Gossip Girl, only this time she’s an Instagram account.) Lind plays Audrey Hope, a member of Constance Billard School for Girls’ elite who’s embroiled in a love triangle with her boyfriend, Aki (Evan Mock), and friend, Max (Thomas Doherty). Gossip Girl 2.0 has been the talk of the internet for a year now, and the chatter has only intensified since its July 8 premiere. But Lind is handling this scrutiny like a pro.
“I’m very much an introvert,” she tells me. “I’m very social, but I stay home a lot. I’m not really into that stuff: the parties and the glitz and the glam. I’ve been seeing it since I was little.
“I can navigate that stuff, just because I’ve always been the same person through thick and thin,” Lind adds. Yes, this is a 19-year-old dropping these truths. Nineteen!
But she still lets herself be a kid. Lind self-describes her snacks of choice on the GG set as toddler-like, and she’s not above watching silly videos on YouTube to pass the time. (That’s something I do too…at the ripe old age of 28.) She opens up about this and more in Glamour’s latest installment of New Here. Read on.
Glamour: The show is finally out! How are you feeling?
Emily Alyn Lind: It’s great. I’m really happy with the response. I think the fans are really into it, especially, like, Twitter fans, at least what fans are telling me. The first episode is just the pilot, you know? So there’s so much more to uncover.
What has been the most surprising thing about the response?
I don’t know. I haven’t had expectations for anything I’ve done since I was a little girl. What I’ve learned is to never have any expectations, so you don’t get let down. That’s really helped me. So whenever anyone likes anything I do, that’s always surprising to me, just because I set myself up like that.
When you found out you were part of a reimagining of Gossip Girl, what did you think about dipping into an iconic franchise?
The fact it was a continuation was what made me apt to want to be a part of it. I don’t think enough time has passed, nor should anyone ever try to recreate the original. It was iconic for so many reasons. I don’t think anyone could step in the shoes of a Blair or a Serena. But this is 10 years later, and we’ve created completely new characters.
What was your relationship to Gossip Girl before getting involved with this new show?
I watched the show a long time ago, when I was younger, and I didn’t want to rewatch it right before because I didn’t want to take stuff from the original characters. I didn’t want to put that in my mind. I wanted to try to reimagine these characters. But now I’m starting to watch it again, just because I feel like I have my character set.
Growing up, did you have an idea of what it meant to be a successful actor? Has that changed?
When I was younger, I really wanted to do this. Very early on, I remember being very clear about what my path was. I like the phrase successful actor, because it was never about fame. As a successful actor, you’re able to work and do what you love and also provide for your family. I never wanted to be famous. It was never about that. It was always about doing quality work.
Do you have certain rituals for auditions?
I like taping for stuff. I don’t really like going into audition rooms if I don’t have to. I was always someone that, when people met me, I always seemed older than my years, so they would assume I wouldn’t be able to play a character my age. So I like taping my auditions [to prevent those assumptions]. I have a couple specific shirts I always like to wear because I felt like I would wear them, and I always got the role if I wore them. My go-to food before auditions is avocado rolls and kombucha or coconut water. I always eat and drink that before auditions.
What about your on-set snacks of choice? Are they the same?
I have such specific food tastes. I love coconut water, but I also love juice. I always have my orange juice, apple juice, mango juice. Avocado rolls. Cucumber rolls. I’m obsessed with any sort of rice. I literally eat like a child sometimes; I eat applesauce packets. I love the Dole fruit cups too. And breakfast bars!
Is there an outfit you’ve loved wearing on set?
In episode two, which you’ll see, I have this, like, black long, shiny dress on. There’s a little cutout at the front. It’s so cute.
Is your own style similar to Audrey’s?
It’s really different. I love being comfy, but if I’m actually going to live life, which I haven’t really since the pandemic, I opt for vintage mixed with off-the-rack. I’ve been working with Gucci lately, and they have a very old-school ’70s vibe right now, which I’ve been into.
What have been some of your favorite moments on set?
One time me and the girls, one by one, ended up randomly going into Savannah Lee Smith’s dressing room. I don’t know what happened, but we sat down, and Savannah was eating cereal in the middle of the day in complete darkness. She was eating cereal and watching YouTube on the TV, so we all just started watching this video about different types of vaginas. And then they came in to get us, and the production assistants were like, “Okayyyyy.”
If there was a superlative your costars could give you, what would it be?
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned through working on Gossip Girl?
I’ve learned how to work through really hard times. Obviously, so has everyone this past year. For as long as I’ve been doing this, the film industry has always been semi the same, right? And then COVID hit, and everyone’s so distant from each other because of social guidelines. Also, there’s lots of people online who say bad things, and learning how to—especially on this show, because it’s such a hit—say “fuck off.” Obviously, listen to the fans, but some people are just assholes, and you have to take what they say with a grain of salt. Especially with reboots and continuations.
You mentioned fame was never your goal, but this show will definitely give you a larger platform. Is there a cause or issue you want to bring attention to?
I’m keen on trying to support poetry and writing and creativity for kids. I really love the idea of art therapy. All the information I’ve heard about public schools’ trying to cut down on art programs has made me so angry. For so many kids, it’s what makes them who they are. If I didn’t have the arts accessible to me as a kid, I would not be who I am.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.