Nina Dobrev, star of The CW’s “The Vampire Diaries,” has decided to visit the 16th annual Savannah Film Festival to find out what all the excitement is about.
“I don’t know what to expect,” Dobrev says. “When you go to things and have no experience, you have a better time.”
Born Nikolina Konstantinova Dobreva in Bulgaria, Dobrev moved to Canada with her family at age 2. As a result, she speaks fluent English, French and Bulgarian.
Growing up, Dobrev studied dance and competed in gymnastics. Her acting career began in 2008, when modeling jobs led to commercials and film auditions.
After some film roles and parts in Lifetime original movies, Dobrev was cast in the television series “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” She played the role of Mia Jones, a single teenage mother, on the show’s sixth to ninth seasons, and also had a memorable role in the film “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” with Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Paul Rudd.
Today, Dobrev stars in a double role as Elena Gilbert and Katherine Pierce on “The Vampire Diaries.” Katherine is a vampire loved by two human brothers during the American Civil War, while Elena is a modern-day human who is caught between the brothers, who are now vampires.
Playing a dual role isn’t easy, she says.
“It’s been a work in progress, done step by step, little by little,” Dobrev says.
In Savannah, Dobrev and “Diaries” co-star Candice Accola will share their experiences with Savannah College of Art and Design students.
“We’re going to be sitting in on a performing arts class and talking to students,” she says. “We can tell them our experiences and give them some advice about their plans for the future. I went back to my old performing arts high school and talked to the students there and I’ve done panels for the films I’ve done and question-and-answer sessions after screenings.”
Dobrev was 16 when she started acting.
“When I was little, we didn’t have much money, but I was always one of those kids who bounced off the walls,” she says.
“My parents kept me active. Sports led to gymnastics and gymnastics led to dancing and performing.
“I really loved performing and being on stage,” Dobrev says. “I went to a performing arts high school in drama and theater and musical theater.”
Acting was the one activity that stuck.
“I fell into it and realized that was what I wanted to do,” Dobrev says. “I hated math; I hated science.”
After auditioning, Dobrev got some back-to-back parts.
“‘Degrassi’ didn’t have a role for me, but they developed a role for me,” she says.
“Before I started the show, I got two films, one which was a World War II period drama, a really beautiful film,” Dobrev says. “It wasn’t a huge success, but I’m very proud of it. I had to learn Yiddish for it.
“That’s why I love acting, in film especially. I started playing two characters so completely different from each other — a 16-year-old Jewish girl from the 1940s to a punky girl in 2009.”
Now Dobrev plays a vampire.
“I’m getting to do all these different things and be all these different things,” she says.
“It’s all been really exciting and really great,” Dobrev says. “Now with the show, I’ve gotten to watch my characters evolve over the five years I’ve played them.
“Katherine especially is so unlike me. She’s bitchy, mean and selfish, and it’s interesting to figure out why someone would act like that. I’ve learned a lot about myself through these characters.”
Dobrev visited Savannah once on a road trip.
“It’s very beautiful with its old houses and history and has a really cool energy,” she says.
“I’m going to be there on Halloween with its whole haunted, historical aspect,” Dobrev says.
“I have to work Monday through Friday, but I’ll find time to explore. I’m like a vampire in my real life, so I’ll find the time.”