Also Credited As:Jessica Karen Szohr
|Jessica Karen Szohr on March 31, 1985 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA|
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Jessica Karen Szohr (pronounced 'Soar') was born March 31, 1985 in Menomonee Falls, WI to a Hungarian mother and half African-American father. Szohr - the oldest of six children - began modeling at age six after her mother was encouraged to find her an agent. Szohr booked a national Quaker Oats spot at age 10, yet enjoyed a relatively normal childhood replete with soccer and cheerleading. Though already a model, her parents' encouraged her to find a job to fall back on, leading Szohr to start a home-cleaning business which included among her clients, her many schoolteachers. Because she endured harassment from envious peers for her growing amount of print work, the young model opted for an early graduation from Menomonee Falls High School at age 17; instead heading to Los Angeles with her mother en tow - a move that made fueled her fierce determination to succeed in showbiz.
After quick representation, Szohr began landing work in 2003 with small parts on the Damon Wayans comedy "My Wife and Kids" (ABC, 2001-05), as well as in the independent film "Uncle Nino" (2003). Like any struggling actor, Szohr spent the next three years racking up guest star spots on sitcoms and hour-long dramas before changing personal management and direction. She first captured consistent viewer attention as Laura, the sexy neighbor and interest of Barry Watson on the short-lived but critically well-received dramedy, "What About Brian" (ABC, 2006-07).
After a brief recurring role on the ever-popular crime drama, "CSI: Miami" (CBS, 2005- ), Szohr landed the job of her life up until that point on "Gossip Girl" (CW, 2007- ) - a show based on the Cecily von Ziegesar-penned book series of the same name which was originally designed as a four or five-episode guest appearance. Where the majority of the characters attended an elite school, Szohr's alter ego, Vanessa Abrams, was a Brooklyn-born chick who so clicked with viewers that producers eventually added her to series regular status. Szohr took nicely to her role on the teen-angst soap opera; even making People magazine's famous yearly list of its "Most Beautiful People" in 2008.
Off-screen Szohr began dating her very desirable co-star, Ed Westwick, with the glamorous, young couple playing out a page from their show with their very public "are they or aren't they?" relationship. After they confirmed speculation that they were, indeed, a couple in 2008, the twosome disappointed fans when it was announced they had split in early 2010. Not one to dwell, the up-and-comer Szohr next entered waters more dangerous than becoming a real-life tabloid staple by appearing in a remake of the tongue-in-cheek horror film "Piranha" (1978), called, not surprisingly, "Piranha 3-D" (2010), in which the actress portrays Kelly, a local girl caught up in the waves of excitement when Spring Break descends on her town.