Willa Holland was born in Los Angeles, the daughter of cinematographer Keith Holland and actress Darnell Gregorio-De Palma. She has two sisters, Brianna Holland (born 1988) and Piper De Palma (born 1996). She spent the earlier part of her childhood in Chelsea, London. It was during that period that she spent time on the set of the film Mission: Impossible which was directed by her stepfather Brian De Palma. She went to Kenter Canyon Elementary School, Paul Revere Middle School, and Palisades Charter High School.
Willa spent the summer of 1999 in The Hamptons with her family. After a day playing at Steven Spielberg’s home with now model Shadat Patwary, the seed was planted that she should spend her life acting in film. Spielberg told her mother “You’ve got to put her in front of a camera!”. Upon her return to Los Angeles that September, Holland signed with Ford Modeling Agency at age seven, and immediately booked a shoot for Burberry. The following year, 1999, her mother took her to a theatrical talent agency. Since then she has shot many national commercials. During 2001, when Willa was ten, she worked alongside her cinematographer father in Ordinary Madness. She was even slated to co-star in the 2005 FOX series The Inside with fellow model Rachel Nichols, but left the show when writer Tim Minear was brought in to overhaul it. She played the role of Kaitlin Cooper on The O.C.; initially as a recurring character in season 3, but then as a regular in season 4. Incidentally, Willa was a fan of The O.C. before landing the role of Marissa Cooper’s (Mischa Barton) rebellious “little” sister.
Willa appeared on the cover of Teen Vogue and Fashion 18 and has been featured in CosmoGirl!, as well as representing LeSportsac Fall and Winter 2006 The O.C. handbags for Macy’s. She has also appeared in a commercial for the Montana Meth Project titled “That Guy”.
In December 2007, Willa was cast in the independent drama film Garden Party. She played the role of April, a troubled teenage aspiring model who tries to make it in Los Angeles. The film opened in selective cinemas in Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle on July 11, 2008. Despite Willa receiving critical acclaim for her performance, the film received mixed to negative reviews from critics. In September 2008 it was announced that Willa had scored a three-episode stint in the second season of The CW teen drama television series Gossip Girl. The series is also created by The O.C. creator Josh Schwartz. Willa played the role of a rebellious sixteen-year-old model who befriends and creates havoc for Taylor Momsen’s character. In March 2010 Willa made a one-off return to the series in the shows sixteenth episode of the third season “The Empire Strikes Jack” which aired on March 29, 2010.
On May 17, 2010, Square Enix announced that she would be voicing Aqua in the PlayStation Portable title, Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, which was released on September 7, 2010 in North America. That same year Willa starred in her first major studio film in the apocalyptic thriller film Legion playing the role of a bratty teenager. She also played the teen-temptress role of Janice Heddon in the film Straw Dogs, a remake of the 1971 film of the same name. The film opened in September 2011.
In February 2012, Holland was cast in The CW action-adventure series Arrow where she plays Thea Queen, the sister of Oliver Queen.