Taylor Michel Momsen (born July 26, 1993) is an American actress, musician, and model, who portrayed the character of Jenny Humphrey on the CW television series Gossip Girl and Cindy Lou Who in Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas. She fronts the rock band The Pretty Reckless.
Taylor Momsen was born on July 26, 1993, in St. Louis, Missouri. Her parents are Michael and Collette Momsen and she has a younger sister, Sloane Momsen, who is also an actress. She has Russian ancestry. She was raised Roman Catholic and attended Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School for elementary school and later attended Herbert Hoover Middle School in Potomac, Maryland. She studied dance at the Center of Creative Arts in St. Louis. Momsen was signed with Ford Models at the age of two of what she says "My parents signed me up with Ford Modeling at the age of 2. No 2-year-old wants to be working, but I had no choice. My whole life, I was in and out of school. I didn't have friends. I was working constantly and I didn't have a real life." She began acting professionally at three years of age with a national commercial for Shake 'n Bake. She was then cast in The Prophet's Game.
In 2000, Momsen played the role of Cindy Lou Who in Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, her breakout role. In 2002, she was given the role of Gretel in the motion picture: Hansel and Gretel, as well as Alexandra, the President's daughter, in Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams.
Momsen's career came to a halt for over three years until she received a lead role in the WB series Misconceptions, which was never aired. Also at this time, Momsen appeared in the 2006 film Saving Shiloh. She also auditioned for the title role in Hannah Montana, and was in the top three, but the role was instead awarded to Miley Cyrus--a decision that Momsen was happy with, in retrospect. In 2007 she starred in the Walt Disney Pictures film Underdog, as Molly and as Jennifer in the movie Paranoid Park, directed by Gus Van Sant.
Beginning in 2007, she played the character of Jenny Humphrey in The CW television series Gossip Girl, which is based on the book series by Cecily von Ziegesar. Momsen's appearances on the series became increasingly sporadic, and by the end of the first half of the fourth season, she had only appeared in four episodes. It was then announced that the actress would be scheduled for an indefinite hiatus from the show, which ultimately resulted in her leaving the series as a regular cast member, following the completion of the fourth season in 2011. Later that year, on August 16, 2011, Momsen told Elle magazine that she had quit acting to focus on her music career. Momsen attended the Professional Performing Arts School in Manhattan for high school education alongside Connor Paolo, Gregori Lukas and Sarah Hyland.
However, on October 16, 2012, it was reported that Momsen and Connor Paolo, whose recurring role as Momsen's stepbrother had also been significantly decreased following the fifth season, would be returning to Gossip Girl for the final episode of the sixth and final season.
Between 2010 and 2011 Momsen decided to quit acting for the time being to focus solely on her music career.
In June 2008, at the age of fourteen, Momsen signed to IMG Models.
Taylor was the face of British fashion chain New Look for its spring/summer 2010 collection. After weeks of speculation of who was the face of Madonna's 2010 fashion line "Material Girl", Momsen was announced on July 15, 2010. A week later, Momsen was announced as the model for John Galliano's new women's fragrance, scheduled to launch in autumn 2010. In 2010, she appeared in a video for John Galliano's "Parlez-Moi d'Amour" fragrance ad campaign
Momsen is currently the face of Samantha Thavasa's handbag line. She has done multiple photoshoots, press events, and commercials.
She covered Page Six Magazine when she was fifteen years old in 2009. Momsen also covered on the February 2010 cover of Seventeen In October 2010, Momsen wore a pair of platform stilettos, thigh-high stockings, and had a holster strapped around her leg for Revolver. Two months after she covered French magazine Rock One's. Momsen graced the cover of FHM's March 2012 edition and FHM ranked Momsen #29 in its 2012 Hot 100 issue. She also made her debut Maxim cover in the November 2013 issue
Momsen has stated that "music is where I can be me", saying that "Acting is easy. I've been doing it for so long and I totally love it. But you're playing a character instead of yourself. Music is more personal because you're writing it and you're involved in every step of it." Aged five, Momsen recorded the song "Christmas, Why Can't I Find You?" for the soundtrack to How the Grinch Stole Christmas. In 2002, she recorded the songs "One Small Voice" and "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" for the compilation album School's Out! Christmas.
In March 2009, Momsen stated in an interview with OK! Magazine that her band The Pretty Reckless had then recently signed a deal with Interscope Records. She co-writes the songs with guitarist Ben Phillips; in addition to lead vocals, Momsen also plays rhythm guitar. She played her first tour with her band opening for The Veronicas on their Revenge is Sweeter Tour in spring 2009.
The band's debut album Light Me Up was released on August 30, 2010 in the UK, where it debuted at number 6, as well as at number 18 in Ireland. The first single "Make Me Wanna Die" was released on May 30, 2010, where it peaked at number 16, while the second single "Miss Nothing" which was released on August 23, 2010 peaked at number 39. The third single released has been "Just Tonight".
Heidi Montag recorded "Blackout", a song written by Momsen. According to Momsen, she wrote the song when she was 8 years old and recorded it as a demo with a producer. Montag released the song as a digital only single, with the music video being directed by her husband Spencer Pratt. Momsen commented about the recording: "I'm like, okay, dude, you're singing an 8-year-old's words, but that's cool. It's so funny because I didn't shop it or anything and I get this call going, 'Did you write a song for Heidi Montag'? And I'm like 'What?'". The track was later included on Montag's debut studio album Superficial (2010).
On July 27, 2011, Momsen announced via Twitter that the band would be the supporting act for Evanescence during the fall of 2011. Throughout 2012, Momsen and her band toured North America; the second headlining tour, titled the Medicine Tour, began in March 2012 and culminated with supporting dates for Marilyn Manson's 2012 world tour Hey Cruel World... Tour. Momsen also appeared as guest vocalist on the first track of ex Ministry member Paul Barker's 2012 album Fix This.
On November 30, 2012, it was announced that The Pretty Reckless' fourth single "Kill Me" would be released on December 11. The track was the last song to be featured in the Gossip Girl series finale. In June 2013, the band released a teaser of their upcoming album, Going to Hell.
Momsen cites Kurt Cobain, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, and Shirley Manson of the band Garbage as some of her personal influences.