08/21/2009 at 12:00 AM EDT
She's the new kid
on the Gossip Girl
block, but Hilary Duff
says the star-studded cast is making her feel right at home.
"Everyone's been really, really gracious to me and sweet to me," Duff told reporters Thursday night at a NYC celebration for Charlotte Ronson's I "Heart" Ronson collection for JCPenney.
Duff reportedly will play Olivia Burke, a movie star who enrolls at New York University and rooms with Jessica Szohr
's character, Vanessa.
"I'm a huge fan of the show. They called me and said come on and do a few episodes. I jumped at the chance," she said on the red carpet outside the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers.
Due to a packed summer schedule, Duff -- who recently returned from Columbia, where she distributed food to poor children through the charity Blessings in a Backpack
-- says she hasn't hung out personally with the GG
cast much yet, but has enjoyed spending time with them on-set.
and Penn Badgley
are really amazing. She's been so so sweet to me," she said, when asked about the real-life couple. "And I've known him for a few years. We've kind of lived in the same neighborhood in L.A., just growing up."
Another first-timer joining her on the Gossip Girl
set this season: Tyra Banks
, who will play actress Ursula
whose roles include cultural icon Josephine Baker
"It was fun to work with her in a different atmosphere than appearing on her show," Duff told reporters. "She looked beautiful and did a really great job. She had the flat hair that squiggles on her forehead. Very flapper-ish!" --Laura Hahn