NOC Interview: Jordan Alexander on HBO Max’s ‘Gossip Girl’

Jordan Alexander portrays Julien Calloway in the Max Original series Gossip Girl. Season one is a total of 12 episodes and premiered in July. Based on the original hit CW show and bestselling novels by Cecily von Ziegesar, the reimagined drama explores how much social media and the landscape of New York itself has changed by introducing a new generation of private school teens to social surveillance. New episodes of Gossip Girl are released weekly, Thursdays on HBO Max.

Courtesy of HBO Max

This extension of the pop culture classic takes us back to the Upper East Side to find a new generation of New York private school teens being introduced to social surveillance, nine years after the original blogger’s website went dark. The series is based on the bestselling novels by Cecily von Ziegesar and the original show, developed by Josh Schwartz & Stephanie Savage, which ran from 2007-2012 on The CW.

I spoke with the actress about the fan response to the show and her character, the revelation of who the new Gossip Girl is, Julien’s relationship with Zoya, pulling inspiration from the original Gossip Girl, which original character she thinks would be best friends with Julien, her best advice for those growing up with the new series, and so much more! Keep reading to find out everything she told me.

Karolina Wojtasik/HBO Max

How does it feel having your character and all of your work out into the world now?
Jordan Alexander: It’s really exciting. To see people that are enjoying it and having fun, meaning it and critiquing it, it’s really nice, because I feel like as an entertainer that’s what you want. You want to see people happy, enjoying themselves, and getting getting lost in all the drama of it.

What has the fan response been like for you? People are loving your character, the representation that you and the rest of the cast bring to this world, and the show in general.
It’s been really, really positive responses. I’ve gotten a lot of messages from people who are shaving their heads and I’m not saying that I’m the pioneer of that, but it’s nice to know that like you can affect or maybe even just encourage someone in choices that they’ve made or things that they’ve done to be more themselves.

We’re seeing some incredible fashion on the show, what is it like when you get your costumes every shoot?
It’s so exciting. I actually went into my trailer yesterday, and I saw a costume that I was so excited about. I just had like a little dance scream party, because it was this beautiful piece by Grace Wales Bonner, and when I put it on in the fitting, I was over the moon. I was like, “If I don’t choose this, I’m going to be devastated.” And they ended up choosing it. I’m just so excited.

Karolina Wojtasik/HBO Max

You’re starting this new show with all of these new cast members. What is it like building those relationships and that bond as you take this project on together?
It’s awesome and it’s really exciting. I feel very privileged to be working with some wonderful people and brilliant artists and creators. I feel like we each have our times to bond and make connections. We have this unifying force, which is our common experience of being on this show, so I feel like it kind of galvanizes our connection in terms of like, we’re in this together.

What was your reaction when you found out that not only were you gonna know who Gossip Girl was, but the fans would also know by the end of episode one?
Yeah, isn’t it crazy? Well, I think that I really like what the writers did there because it’s always good to be reimagining things and that’s a really big plot point. They said, “Well, we’ve done it for six seasons not know who it is. So, let’s try this,” and I feel like there’s so much potential there for drama to ensue. I think that it’s really exciting for the audience to be like in on a secret, which I think will be really fun as a viewer.

Let’s discuss Julien and Zoya’s relationship, because I love their dynamic. What is your favorite part of their storyline and connection as well as getting to present that?
Yeah, I think it’s incredible. I think my favorite part is the resiliency of that connection of siblings or people who have this genuine desire to seek love with one another against all odds and definitely against all of the circumstance, they still find a way to come together. I think that that’s a really nice thing to see, especially in terms of female friendship or female bonds. I think that it’s great to have really strong bonds represented and shown in media. Like we have our challenges, we have our problems, but that never overcomes that love for each other and at the end of the day, it really always does come down to that.

Karolina Wojtasik/HBO Max

In recent episodes, we saw the family drama sort of come to a head with the fathers finding this out as well as everything with Obie and Zoya, but there’s always just so much love there, and it’s really fantastic to see. What does that mean to portray a strong female relationship like that?
Yeah, and I feel like even though some of those traditional elements do exist, they’re kind of like side stories or little add on to the strength of their bond. I love that, because I’m definitely all about equality, raising up young girls and women, making sure that they know their worth, and they know that a lot of this rhetoric that is viewed through media and our society as a whole about women isn’t true. You can be whoever you want and you can connect with whoever you want, especially like build that between women in your life. I always say that I reserve all of my compassion and kindness for women, even if someone’s done something bad to me, I’m like, “Okay, let’s just try to figure out how to overcome that.” I don’t want to ever be at odds with women if at all possible. I want to be understanding and at the end of the day, we really are sharing a common experience of being crazy oppressed by our society and we need to band together and not let it tear us apart.

Which dynamic in terms of either a relationship or friendship are you most excited for fans to see that maybe we haven’t seen yet?
I think that seeing how people can build a relationship after the downfall of a relationship is really exciting, because, for me, the complexity of interpersonal relationship– it’s not always going to be roses. Sometimes you’re going to have a falling out, but being able to kind of bounce back from that and learn conflict resolution, how to move forward, and not have grudges; I think that that’s the most exciting thing. And Gossip Girl is doing that all over the place, like you’re friends and something crazy happens or Gossip Girl exposes you, then you have to deal with something really challenging. I feel like you can really grow with people through those challenges.

What can you tease for fans about what’s to come?
Oh my goodness. So, for one thing, the events– filming them was so incredible. I think that they’re just going to be as much of a spectacle to watch as they were to experience, so definitely lots of beautiful, extravagant, luxurious events. Even with all the drama, a lot of love, a lot of compassion, and I think lessons about how to interact with each other, which I think is great.

Karolina Wojtasik/HBO Max

Do you have a favorite spot that you’ve gotten to film in New York yet? Any spots that really like stuck out to you?
Well, so this is actually very topical because episode two was recently released, but the Manhatta, where we shot that the fundraiser or gala was unbelievable. We got there I think it may be like about 6 PM and so, we’re up on maybe the 60th floor and seeing the sunset over the city, which was truly incredible. It offered a really beautiful view.

If you create a dream storyline for either the show or Julien for season two, what would you pick?
I would be very interested to see the class worlds collide even more, maybe if students from an inner city school in New York get introduced to the mix or there’s a love thing that draws the view from the Upper East Side down to like inner city, giving the full spectrum of what New York has to offer.

Which original Gossip Girl characters were your favorite while watching the show? Did you pull any sort of inspiration from those portrayals when you were approaching this character?
Yeah, I would say, definitely Blair and Serena. I like the way that they kind of carried themselves in terms of being wealthy, privileged, and kind of unaware; they’re unaware in a way that they embody, they move through the world physically in a way that just reeks of privilege and anything like that. So, I felt like that and I honestly looked to the OG Gossip Girl for inspiration a lot, because I really wanted to, as much as possible, encapsulate what people loved about that, as well as bringing my own kind of flavor to the show, but I really respect what they had done. It made a really big cultural impact. So, I think it’s definitely worth putting the time into look and see what did that.

Karolina Wojtasik/HBO Max

Which original Gossip Girl character do you think Julien would be best friends with?
Oh, that’s fun! I like that. I feel like Julien would be best friends with Serena because I feel like, I mean, even though she does get in to some bad stuff, for the most part, she kind of wants to be sweet and kind. I feel like that’s definitely Serena’s vibe and they both get a little bit misunderstood. Just trying their best but seemingly hurting people regardless.

If you could create your own tagline for Julien, what would you pick?
Shine so bright.

How has it been filming with all the COVID safety precautions?
Yeah, I mean, we have a whole task force dedicated to making sure that everybody’s being safe, that we’re observing all of the precautions, and doing this in the way that is safest for everyone involved. But for me, I feel like a film set is a pretty regimented place and so adding these extra elements into it, kind of, for me at least, it flowed; it’s like, you get to your place, you pick up your mask, you go to hair and makeup. It’s all really kind of organized and stuff, so I felt like it integrated well, but it is challenging. I think that for the crew, they have to wear their masks all the time. For the casts, you get breaks, because we’re on camera, so you can’t have your mask on, but for crew members on 12 or 10 hour shoots to not take your mask off is awful.

Karolina Wojtasik/HBO Max

What is one piece of advice that you want to give viewers that are now growing up with Gossip Girl and are this generation?
Absolutely. I would say be kind to yourself and there’s nothing wrong with the way that you are. Embrace those things that make you different because they’re actually blessings to you and to the world. Also, in relation to exactly Gossip Girl, it’s not necessarily something to emulate; I think that there’s a lot of things that you can learn kind of observing this world of like the extraordinarily wealthy and privileged, and I don’t know that it’s necessarily that you need to buy all this or get all that. You’re good where you are and you have the ability to bring such beauty and creativity to the world no matter what your status is, no matter how much money you have.