Blake Lively may have a superstar acting career these days, but of all her many roles, it’s undoubtedly her stint as Upper East side “It” girl Serena van der Woodsen from Gossip Girl for which she’s most known. With the series’ 10th anniversary approaching next month, the actress is reflecting on her early days to Vanity Fair, revealing that she actually (gasp!) initially turned down the role, a move that could have led to a very different path for the 30-year-old.

“I realized that [acting] was a business as much as a craft,” explained the All I See Is You star. “People will go see your movie based on your standing and all of that, and it didn’t make sense to me because I was 18 and being an artist.”

She was also admittedly a bit nervous about the attention such a role would bring. “I’m actually a very shy person and the idea of losing my anonymity was one that was scary to me. I remember saying when I read the script, ‘Whoever does this will not be able to walk out of their house ever again and be the same as before they started this. You could tell it was a cultural phenomenon.”

So when she was offered the role of Serena van der Woodsen back in 2007, she balked, picturing a future of academia instead. “I said, ‘No, I want to go to college. Thank you, though.”

The folks over at CW weren’t willing to her go so easily. “Then they said, ‘Okay, you can go to Columbia [University] one day a week. After the first year [of the show], it’ll quiet down. Your life will go back to normal and you can start going to school. We can’t put it in writing, but we promise you can go.’ So that’s why I said, ‘Okay. You know what? I’ll do this.’”

Needless to say, things didn’t exactly go as planned, with the show going on to become a huge success.“[T]he show didn’t slow down. It just got more and more.” While it worked out in the end for the A-list star, she has some advice to pass on from the experience. “This is advice to anyone: when they say, ‘We promise, but we can’t put it in writing,’ there’s a reason they can’t put it in writing!”

Though, boy, are we glad they didn’t!

Can you imagine Gossip Girl without Blake Lively as Serena van der Woodsen? Let us know @BritandCo!

(Photo via CW, Daniel Zuchnik + Andrew Toth/Getty)