Feminist Leighton Meester talks beauty and female co-stars

Two years have passed since Leighton Meester said "byyyeee!" to Gossip Girl's awesomely conniving Blair Waldorf. During that time, the actress has given fans little to whisper about- she walks her dog with Adam Brody (whom she recently married in a paparazzi-free ceremony), she goes for coffee in face-obscuring sunglasses, she shows up at the odd premiere in impeccable frocks.

Meanwhile, she's been quietly banking four films to hit theatres this year, including The Judge, a murder mystery with Robert Downey Jr. and Vera Farmiga. She's working on her debut album, she landed her first part on Broadway-as the vampy wife in Of Mice and Men (April 16–July 27), co-starring James Franco-and she scored a beauty campaign. As Biotherm's latest global ambassador, she represents the brand's new Best.Skin line.

When we talk on the phone, it becomes clear that her beauty routine is similarly low-key. "I don't wear much makeup unless I'm working," she says, sounding far mellower than the bitchy Upper East Sider she's best known for. "Beauty is about lifestyle and attitude. If you do things that make you feel healthy, then beauty comes out of that." Easy to say for someone with anime eyes and pre-Raphaelite-calibre skin. Her minimalist face kit includes lip balm, moisturizer (Biotherm Aquasource) and fish-oil supplements.

Meester's anti-diva outlook is inspired, in part, by the impressive roster of actresses she's worked with, including Tina Fey in Date Night and Gwyneth Paltrow in Country Strong. "I felt comforted and inspired by these incredibly talented and kind women," she says. "People like Tina, Gwyneth and Vera, they show that you don't have to conform to the gender stereotype of women being competitive or petty with one another. It's beautiful to be lifted up by them."

Life Partners, a comedy that premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival this month, is likewise lady-empowering: Co-written by two real-life besties (Susanna Fogel and Joni Lefkowitz), it's a wo-mance of sorts. Meester plays a lesbian slacker whose straight, Type A best friend, played by Community's Gillian Jacobs, gets engaged. The story captures the awkwardness of integrating a boyfriend into a long-time BFF bond. "The movie doesn't make a big deal out of [the fact that I play a lesbian]," she tells me. "It's more about their friendship." Post-GG maturity looks good on Ms. Meester.