If you were a fan of Ron Howard’s classic 2000 film How the Grinch Stole Christmas as a kid, you probably remember a certain little Who girl named Cindy Lou. And even though it’s been a good 20-plus years since the movie’s release, you also probably remember that angelic voice singing the Christmas classic, “Where Are You Christmas?” Big-time Cindy Lou Who enthusiasts will be happy to know (if they don’t already) that the actor who portrayed her is still singing today — and not just wistfully in her bedroom as she gazes out the window. Plus, pictures of Cindy Lou Who now versus then will seriously blow your mind — it’s been a long time since Whoville, people.
Our girl Cindy Lou Who was played by none other than Taylor Momsen, who was just 7 years old when she starred in How The Grinch Stole Christmas. She's 28 now, and if her name isn't familiar to you, then her face probably is. And if not because of The Grinch, then perhaps because she played Jenny Humphrey in the original Gossip Girl series on The CW. Yup, Little J was once Cindy Lou Who, and now Cindy Lou Who/Little J is the lead singer of a rock band called The Pretty Reckless. If one thing is certain, it’s that it has been quite the journey from tiny Who tot to full-on rockstar.
Taylor Momsen in How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Momsen started her career as a model at just 2 years old and began acting at 3. By the time she hit 7 years old, she landed her starring role as Cindy Lou Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, alongside Jim Carrey as Mr. Grinch. She may even have this early acting gig to thank for her introduction to the world of music. “The Grinch was the first time I went into a recording studio," she told Today in December 2020. "I'll never forget walking into this beautiful studio with a massive console in front of me and putting headphones on and singing into a microphone for the first time... It was such an impactful moment in my life. It made me go, ‘I want to make music for the rest of my life. I love being in a recording studio.’"
And while Momsen is committed to her music career nowadays, she still gives shoutouts to her acting past from time to time, like once in 2015 when she addressed The Grinch (and the internet freaked out). In a tweet, Momsen said, "It's that time of year again... happy holidays everyone, 2016 will be filled with new music," and she included the video of her singing "Where Are You Christmas?"
Taylor Momsen in Gossip Girl
After singing in The Grinch, Momsen knew she wanted to be a musician, but she still auditioned for a variety of acting jobs — not least of which was for the role of Jenny Humphrey in The CW’s Gossip Girl, which she landed at age 12. In the first few seasons, Jenny is one of the recurring main characters, but her appearances begin to slowly decline before disappearing altogether in the fourth season.
By the time Jenny Humphrey was written off the show, Momsen had been committed to making her music whenever she wasn't filming. In a 2013 interview with Flare, Momsen said she filmed Gossip Girl from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m., then went straight to the recording studio from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m., then right back to set. “So I kind of didn’t sleep more than an hour or two a night for at least a year,” she said. “Lots of coffee. But I enjoy what I do, so it’s worth it.”
Taylor Momsen in The Pretty Reckless
Eventually, Momsen knew exactly what she wanted to do, and it did not involve acting. “I started modeling at 2, and then acting at 3, and then Gossip Girl when I was 12, so I wasn’t really making my own decisions,” she told The Daily Beast in 2014. “When I got to a place where I realized I was in control of my own life, and had found the right band, and everything was coming to fruition, it wasn’t even a question: I was going to quit my day job.”
Everything came full circle though when Momsen made a musical appearance for Gossip Girl’s series finale. “The last thing you hear on Gossip Girl is ‘Kill Me’ by The Pretty Reckless, and I just think that that's very funny and totally awesome on so many levels,” she told Bustle in March 2021.
Touring all over the world with her band, Momsen is a certified rockstar with music in her soul — and she has been all along, to be honest. “As dramatic as it might sound, [this record] literally saved my life," she told Bustle of The Pretty Reckless’ 2021 album Death By Rock and Roll.
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