Women Aren\'t Obligated to Date Men They Don\'t Like
premiered back in 2012, the first question viewers had to answer for themselves was whether they were a Blair or Serena, followed by whether they\'d want to date Nate, Chuck, or Dan. But while all of those people swanned around the Upper East Side in outrageous clothes, there was one woman who saw all — Dorota, Blair\'s put-upon but faithful maid. She was so involved in Blair\'s schemes and knew so much about the scandalous lives of Manhattan\'s elite that many fans eventually came to believe that Dorota was Gossip Girl. This — spoiler alert — turned out not to be the case, but Dorota remains a character that you\'d definitely want in your corner if you were, say, preparing for your wedding to the prince of Monaco. Here, actress Zuzanna Szadkowski discusses
for the premiere\'s 10-year anniversary and explains why it was actually a blessing that Dorota rarely had to change out of her maid outfit.
I auditioned for it because I had a history of playing Polish maids. It was my third Polish maid in a row. The second one I played was on the final season of
] they wanted somebody over 60, but because I was Polish they wanted to see me anyway [even though] I was in my late 20s. There were no lines in the first episode for Dorota so I was improvising. It was fun and it went well, and then I got the part and I didn’t really know at the time what a great job it was. I had heard that the books were really popular so I was hoping it would be a good thing but I didn’t even know if Dorota would come back or ever get to say anything.
Did they add more for Dorota as the show progressed and the audience started to become more invested in her?
Certainly the relationship was set up from the beginning that Blair kind of didn’t have a mother figure and that Dorota was there because the help were the only people around, but I didn’t really start developing a character and having stuff to do until well into the first season. One of the things was that Leighton [Meester] as Blair was such a hit, so the more the writers started writing about Blair and then Chuck and Blair, then Dorota, Blair\'s little confidante, played more and more of a role. It grew organically over time and it was lucky that the audience reacted well to Dorota too, because I feel like they started to write a little more fun stuff for me. By the third season I had a wedding episode and I got to have my own baby and everything, so then I was like, "Hey, I think I’m kinda on this show now!"
How many maid uniforms did the costume department have?
I only had one! Then after a couple seasons they gave me a fresh one, but it was pretty much just the one and the one headband. That headband made it for six seasons — the headband is the one thing I took from the set after the show wrapped. Once in a while I got to dress up; if there was a wedding or event then I actually got to go into the wardrobe room and see those guys. I just worked on an episode of
, and he was like, "Hey!" and it was like we barely remembered each other because I had probably been in the wardrobe room of
Did you ever get jealous while everyone else was walking around in their designer looks and you were in Dorota\'s maid outifit?
I did, except that I learned pretty quickly that I was the lucky one because my outfit was super comfortable. They were in these crazy high heels and these tight, tight dresses, and after a whole long day of shooting everybody was suffering and they couldn’t go to the bathroom easily and all that. And I was just in my comfy, cozy stuff. When I had my wedding episode, they put clip-in extensions in my hair and I was so excited to have glamorous hair. Then after eight hours of shooting those clip-ins hurt so bad on your scalp and I was like, "Thank god I’m not a glamorous character because I’m not cut out for this."
As the show was going on, were you and the rest of the cast able to follow the plot, or were you as confused as the audience was sometimes?
I was one of the only cast members who regularly watched it when it aired, I was a fan. But around the third season somebody started leaking our scripts to the media, so they started making these very redacted scripts and sometimes you would show up and do a scene and you didn’t know what the scene was about because they couldn’t trust putting it out there. A lot of it was fly by the seat of your pants and we were always excited to see what would happen next. The final-season reveal of Gossip Girl was crazy because we didn’t know until we were shooting the scene. They were just handing us pages with big, blacked-out blocks and being like, "Well, we’ll get to it!" I feel like nobody knew who Gossip Girl was going to be till the day we did it.
A lot of people thought it would be Dorota. Did you think it might be Dorota?
I totally did and I also kind of hoped it would be, and then I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t. It was funny because in the final episode there’s a scene where Mayor Bloomberg says, "I thought it was Dorota." That was my favorite thing, that the mayor actually mentioned my name.
superfan. Didn’t he also give you guys a special Gossip Girl Day?
Yeah, he did. They gave us all a copy of the proclamation, so I actually have the Gossip Girl Day proclamation in my apartment. New York City has always had its iconic show of the moment, and
was definitely that for that time that it was on, in terms of the fact that it was so much about the style and the energy of the city. When we would shoot on the Upper East Side, the fans of the show that were high-school students that actually lived in the world of
would come see us and it was so crazy because I was like, "It’s real!" Most of our interiors were shot on a soundstage but we had one house on the Upper East Side that we used for Blair’s kitchen and Nate’s dining room. [Once] I was wearing my Dorota outfit, sitting in that house waiting to go on, and
Dorota was cleaning the room. She was wearing a maid outfit and everything. She was laughing so much because she was like, "You play me!"
Did Leonardo DiCaprio ever visit the set when he was dating Blake Lively?
If he did I never saw him. But I did meet Ryan Reynolds one time and he struck me as the nicest, most cool celebrity I’ve ever met in person. They seemed like a really great match to me because they’re such warm people. Hollywood can be [something] other than that and they’re both really nice and cute and sweet.
had a long history of amazing guest stars — Lady Gaga, Tyra Banks, etc. Who were some of your favorites?
I had a scene with Cyndi Lauper — it was one of my first big scenes I ever had — and that was really cool for me. But my favorite person on the show who was a guest star was Wallace Shawn, who played Blair’s stepdad. I got to have all these scenes with him and he walked me down the aisle when Dorota got married. I just got the biggest kick out of him, I’m such a huge fan of his. Rachel Zoe was on one episode and that was really fun because at the time I had been watching her reality show, and then she came on and she had to fall into a chocolate fountain. She had to be covered head to toe in chocolate, and it was so funny to see her because she’s such a little fashion maven and here she is doing this really crazy scene. She definitely got doused. She was doused the way they used to douse people with slime [on Nickelodeon].
Oh yeah, sign me up! I don’t imagine that it would but if it did I would be the first one knocking on the door.
Who do you still keep in touch with from the show?
I’m very close with Leighton because she and I spent a lot of time working together and we developed a real friendship. She’s one of the nicest things for me about having even worked on the show; my friendship with her is really special to me. She’s a great actor and is funny and has great comic timing, and she knew a lot about working on camera. For me it was a little newer because I’d done a lot more theater before I did the show, so even from the beginning I learned a lot from her. I saw her recently when I was out in L.A. Sometimes if I’ll go somewhere with her, those are the most fun fan sightings I’m ever witness to. I’m sure she gets recognized all the time, but when fans see Blair and Dorota together it can get surreal for people.
Zuzanna with Andrew Rannells at the 2017 Tony Awards.
It happens mostly when I have my hair back. I like to think that I’m more glamorous and cute than Dorota in my regular life. It’s kind of on my slummin’ it days that I get recognized more. But there’s a whole new crop of people who watch the show so even though it’s been 10 years ago that it started, I still get high-school kids today watching it afresh. I like being recognized because it makes me feel good about the character, and the fact that the audience embraced Dorota and that I got to grow over time. It was a really good experience in my career so every time I meet a fan of
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