Recently slipping into the Gossip Girl cast as Agnes, a model who befriends Jenny Humphrey (Taylor Momsen) and has designs on a major role in Eleanor Waldorf’s fashion empire, Willa Holland, onetime model for Guess? and Burberry, plays a doe-eyed climber to corroded perfection. “Agnes is a little corrupt and manipulative,” says the 17-year-old Bardot-esque beauty, who for two seasons on The O.C. inhabited Kaitlin Cooper, the wild, seductive, shoplifting little sister of Mischa Barton’s Marissa Cooper. Holland understands vampy provocateurs so naturally, it makes one wonder about the inner demons she wrestles with. “I don’t have the energy to rebel myself. I never really went through that stage,” Holland protests.
“I started young in this industry and I’ve grown up fast.” Her career was given an auspicious jolt at the age of six when she was spotted at a party by Steven Spielberg, who urged her parents—director Brian De Palma is her stepdad—to put her in front of the camera. Four years later, she landed a part in her first feature (Ordinary Madness), and her ascent has been steady since, with films on the way in which she stars alongside Susan Sarandon (Middle of Nowhere), Catherine Keener (Genova) and Dennis Quaid (Legion). Too busy to spend weekends getting wasted at paparazzi-filled parties, Holland says she prefers hanging with her O.C. co-star Ryan Donowho for simulated martial arts combat. “We’ll play the video game Soulcalibur for hours,” she says. Clearly, this is one emerging star with a lot of fight in her.
Photo by Victoria Will.