Gina Torres has been cast on Gossip Girl as Vanessa's mother.
Gabriela Abrams, mother to home-schooled Vanessa, is described as being warm and outgoing, which will certainly be a change of pace for this show, not exactly known for parental virtuousness (much as Rufus and Lily might mean well).
She is a free spirit, herself a former Brooklynite who lives "off the grid" in Vermont and expresses strong opinions about things, especially concerning her daughter.
That sounds more like it.
Gina Torres is best known for her roles on Alias and Firefly, though she also had a recent blink-and-you-miss-it cameo on Pushing Daisies as the wayward mom of Emerson's daughter. The actress is married to CSI star Laurence Fishburne.
Gabriela Abrams is currently scheduled to appear in two episodes, but she may recur on the series. Gossip Girl returns for its third season on September 14.