Growing up in Los Angeles, Savannah Lee Smith felt like she was embroiled in “Gossip Girl” tradition — and never in a great way.
“People in LA can be very shallow,” mentioned Smith, who co-stars within the HBO Max reboot of the traditional sequence. “There were some really nasty people at my school who’d constantly remind me that I didn’t fit in because of how I look.”
She advised The Post how imply ladies ostracized her for being one of many few black college students at her predominantly white Catholic highschool.
“But once I enrolled in the drama program,” mentioned Smith, now 21, “I knew the theater was where I belonged.”
Her love of the stage and disdain for LA superficiality drove her to New York City after commencement, enrolling within the theater program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2018.
“Being in [New York City] has reshaped me as a woman,” Smith mentioned of her adopted hometown. “Here I don’t have to suit. I can simply be myself.
“In a city with so little free space, I feel like I can take up as much space as I want.”
As a results of the not too long ago rebooted “Gossip Girl,” which options completely different characters than the CW present that ran from 2007 to 2012, she’s additionally commanding plenty of consideration.
Smith performs queen bee Monet, who, as The Post wrote in July, “rules the school proudly wielding her wealth and her sharp tongue.” (The first six episodes of the present can be found to stream now and the following six will drop in November.)
But it’s not what the actress thought she can be doing when she first moved to the town.
“Ninety percent of my auditions were for theater because it’s always been my true passion,” Smith mentioned.
When she bought the decision confirming she had been cast in “Gossip Girl” — whereas quarantining with household — “I literally lost my mind.”
So a lot so, she threw her cellphone to the ground, destroying the display.
“I was crying so hard that when I tried to tell my boyfriend the good news, he thought someone had died,” she mentioned. “I was finally able to say ‘No. I got it!’ ”
But embodying the spirit of the snooty, scheming Monet was a problem.
“Although she’s driven like me, Monet and I are very different,” Smith mentioned. “From our personalities to our fashion senses, we’re polar opposites.”
One massive distinction: “When I was 16 I learned that I had severe scoliosis. The doctor said if I didn’t have surgery immediately, I’d be unable to walk by the time I was 25.”
She famous that such surgical procedures can value between $100,000 and $250,000, and that her singer mother and film-writer dad struggled to tug the funds collectively.
“Even though it was expensive, I didn’t have a choice,” she mentioned. “I had to get it done.”
While recovering from the “super invasive” process — throughout which physicians positioned a metallic rod in her backbone — Smith by accident outed herself as bisexual to her household.
“I’d just gotten off of bed rest after a month and I was teaching myself how to walk again,” she mentioned. “And it just came out.”
Smith admitted that some relations weren’t accepting of the information, however that enjoying Monet has given her confidence.
She recalled how, as quickly as “Gossip Girl” costume designer Eric Daman draped her in a silk lilac cropped blazer by Christopher John Rogers, she was lastly in a position to embrace the essence of her character.
“Eric said, ‘Well, isn’t Monet the type of person that can wear an outfit, but it doesn’t wear her?’ ” Smith remembered. “I spotted that I’ve to hold myself in another way if I wish to give Monet her due vivaciousness.
“So now, instead of being intimated by an outfit — or anything in life — I say, ‘How would Monet work this?’ Being Monet has taught me so much. She’s shown me that it’s OK to be strong, powerful and fully self-expressed.”
Photos: Annie Wermiel/NY Post; Stylist: Elise Sandvik/See Mgmt; Hair by T. Cooper/crowdMGMT utilizing Eva NYC; Brittany Whitfield utilizing Milk Makeup; Stylist Assistants: Ryan Castelli, Nicholas Brade; Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park.