Jessica Karen Szohr (pronounced Soar; born March 31, 1985) is an American actress. Szohr began her screen career starring on television shows such as CSI: Miami and What About Brian. In 2007, she earned her breakthrough role as Vanessa Abrams on The CW series Gossip Girl.
Szohr is of Hungarian and one quarter African-American descent. She was born in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, a place she describes as a "family-oriented small town". The oldest of five children, Szohr played soccer, served on the student council, and was part of the cheerleading squad while in school. She started a cleaning company with a friend, cleaning their teachers’ houses.
Szohr started modeling at age six. Her first national campaign was for Quaker Oats at age ten, and she also appeared in print ads for Kohl's department store. Subsequent modelling gigs followed, including prints for Crate & Barrel, Mountain Dew, Sears, Jockey and JanSport. Szohr graduated from Menomonee Falls High School a semester early and moved to Los Angeles with her mother at the age of 17 to pursue an acting career. She told Seventeen magazine that she "almost moved home like five times."