Katerina Graham is excited about her role in the upcoming TV series, The Vampire Diaries, coming to The CW this fall. Graham will be playing Bonnie Bennett, a teen with psychic powers.
Younger viewers may remember Graham from various Disney Channel credits including Movie Surfers, Lizzie McGuire and Hannah Montana. Or her big screen effort in 17 Again. She's been in commercials and lent her voice to Will.i.am for his single "I Got It from My Mama."
Graham talked to me about her mixed roots (she's the daughter of a Liberian father and a Jewish mother), her web series and the allure of vampires.
On filming in Atlanta:
"There hasn't been that many Vampire Diaries billboards and stuff like that but apparently they’re like everywhere in New York and L.A. so the cast and I...we’re all very excited...we can’t wait to see them when we get back home."
"I’ve always loved vampires, shows and films. I don’t know many people who aren’t a fan of the genre. I hadn’t read Vampire Diaries until I started the audition process for my character and I had only known then that the show was actually based on a series of novels. And of course then I became a huge fan and I read through the books. The show is based on the books but it’s not word for word."
On how she learned so many languages:
“I speak English, Spanish, French, a little bit of Portuguese and Hebrew. My mom raised me, she’s Jewish so she spoke Hebrew and put me in Hebrew school and before that she had me in French school, and my father speaks fluent French. He moved to Portugal and I had this crazy crush when I was like 14-years-old on the Portuguese instructor guy, he was young too, and I learned Portuguese just by being able to talk to him because he didn’t speak English. And then I learned Spanish so that I could do interviews in Spanish for Fanta when I was doing the campaign for the soft drink."
On being black/biracial in Hollywood:
“Luckily I’ve worked my butt off. I’ve been able to do roles that weren’t necessarily meant for me because of what I look like. I’ve been fortunate enough to surpass certain expectations that anyone might have had of me. Sometimes it’s been hard, sometimes they’re like ‘oh you’re not black enough’ or ‘you’re not white enough’ or ‘we don’t know what to do with you’ or ‘you don’t match up with this person’. And sometimes it’s been a blessing, sometimes I’ve been able to blaze my own way trails and say: you know what I’m biracial, I don’t come from necessarily the background that some other people have but if you give me a chance I’ll promise I’ll do a good job and I know what I’m doing. And I think that color aside, and all of that aside, it’s work that matters. You being a good actor, being a good person, you know, it’s who you are inside that is going to make it either…you succeed or you fail.
And I have great parents. I have great people around me. I have a great cast who doesn’t judge each other on anything physical. It’s a very loving environment and I think that I’m just fortunate enough to break certain stereotypes and hopefully lead the way maybe for other African-American women who would love the same opportunities or who would love to do something different."
On her character and real-life:
"When people watch Vampire Diaries I want them to see Bonnie, that’s it. And when people watch my webisodes they can see me and I’m totally different. I don’t even dress the same way but I want I people to be able to love the character... and I appreciate all the fans that follow me on Twitter." (@KaterinaGraham)
The Vampire Diaries premieres Thursday, Sept. 10th on The CW at 8 p.m.
[Photo Credit © 2009 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.]
[pic 2 via her MySpace]