Katerina Graham encompasses the very essence of a creative spirit, from acting to dancing to singing to writing, she does it all – and with a style that rivals the very trendiest in Hollywood.
by Gina Ponce Photography by Nitin Vadukal Styling by Darius Baptist
Hair by Ursula Stephen for Motions/Epiphany Artist Group, Inc.
Makeup by Lucky Smyler for M.A.C. Cosmetics/Epiphany Artist Group, Inc.
More often than not, the term “child actor” is associated with a dead or dying Hollywood career, and the people who have been able to break what is known as the curse and become a success story have been few and far between. Beginning her career in commercials at the age of six before the natural progression onto the Disney channel (Lizzie McGuire, Hannah Montana), Katerina Graham took the uncommon path straight to stardom. Now at 22, the L.A. native finds herself starring on The CW’s hit show, The Vampire Diaries, and getting ready to release her first full-length album.
“I think that it’s easy for you to lose perspective in Hollywood and in being young, because I think that Hollywood wants to put you on a pedestal and make you bigger than you are and make you feel invincible – and that’s not true,” Graham reveals. “I would rather be one and the same with everyone else than have to have that pressure of being better than everyone else. I’m not interested in that. So I think once you take away that pressure and feeling, you’ve just got to be yourself and enjoy the little things and treat people with kindness. But it’s sad because I know a lot of people that I worked with as a kid that have grown up and become that Hollywood stigma.”
Before becoming known as Bonnie Bennett on the vampire show when it premiered two years ago, Graham was steadily working towards an entertainment career that would encompass several avenues of the industry. Guest starring on a variety of TV shows, background dancing for music heavy hitters like Jamie Foxx, Missy Elliott and Pharrell Williams and writing and recording original songs kept the young entertainer busy in an effort to achieve her ultimate goal of reinventing an old Hollywood atmosphere.
“My favorite thing about old Hollywood that I try and bring into the new Hollywood is the old school mentality that you have to be able to sing, dance and act,” Graham says. “So when people are like, ‘Oh, what’s your favorite?’ – well, back in the day you had to do it all. Even when you were six years old, like Shirley Temple, you had to be able to sing, dance and act. Now, we don’t really require that. Even artists right now, they don’t have to play [instruments], but back in the day people like Prince and Freddie Mercury and all these incredible people would be able to get down on a piano and grab a guitar and do stuff like that. And I’m really just trying to hold on to that part of history and bring it forward into whatever I create.”
Even though she had already proved her multiple talents, Graham had plenty of experience filming TV pilots that never went anywhere and was pleasantly surprised at landing the role of Bonnie, a powerful witch in the made-up town of Mystic Falls, where the show is set. Like its vampire cohorts, Twilight and True Blood, Vampire Diaries was adapted from a book series, but that’s where the similarities seem to end. Acknowledging the comparisons at the series’ start, Graham emphasizes the differences in writing that have given each its own unique place in the fantasy world. “There were other vampire shows and films that kind of really didn’t go anywhere so you can’t just say, ‘Oh well, vampires are so hot right now; there’s so many different things that are happening for them.’ Because, to be honest, if the writing isn’t good and the show isn’t good and the actors are crap than the show’s not gonna go anywhere.”