It’s been six years since Gossip Girl alum Penn Badgley graced audiences TV screens as writer Dan “Lonely Boy” Humphrey on The CW hit series. His time on the show led him to instant fame and his high-profile relationships with his Gossip Girl co-star, Blake Lively, and Big Little Lies actress Zoë Kravitz, catapulted him into the spotlight even more.
Becoming so recognized in the public led Badgley, 31, to struggle a bit with his own identity and ultimately is what steered him down his path to spirituality.
“I’m really grateful for [the notoriety], but also, you struggle with things. The phenomenon of fame is literally invisible, but it influences and dominates your life if you aren’t careful. Learning how to accept it and accept that lots of people think they know me is ultimately what led me to seek out such a spiritual perspective,” Badgley told People Magazine in its latest issue.
To help guide him on his spiritual journey, Badgley turned to the Bahá’í faith, which was founded in the Middle East in 1863. The sole purpose of the religion is to emphasize that all people, regardless of their religion, are created equal under the eyes of God.
“If God exists, then we are spiritual beings and we have souls and we are noble inherently. All are essentially equal in the eyes of God,” he said.
His acceptance of the Middle Eastern religion allowed the Easy A actor to not only find peace within himself, but it also gave him a deep understanding of what he calls “divine love,” which is what enabled him to pursue a relationship with his now-wife, British singer Domino Kirke.
“I don’t think I could truly value human love until I developed divine love. [Domino and I] very much had a romantic beginning, and I think that you discover in marriage that what sustains a marriage for decades — there are less and less people who can tell us this — but I think it has something to do with [divine] love,” he explained.
Badgley and Kirke began their relationship in 2014 and were married in a civil ceremony in 2017. While some might not know who Kirke is, they might be more familiar with her two sisters: HBO’s Girls alum Jemima Kirke, and Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle alum Lola Kirke. Upon marrying Kirke, Badgley became the stepfather to her 9-year-old son, Cassius Riley. The three of them live together with their family dog, Terrence.
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Tonight 9/9 at 10pm on @lifetimetv . I want to say something like “I’m back.” I also want to encourage every viewer to think deeply about the themes of this show. It might be a lot of fun to consume, but there are some seeds that’ll be hard to digest. Be careful as you meet Joe Goldberg.
Fans can catch Penn Badgley in his latest TV series, You, which also stars Pretty Little Liars’ Shay Mitchell, at 10 p.m. on Sundays on Lifetime.