The Untold Truth Of Kat Graham

While you probably know Kat Graham best for casting spells as Bonnie Bennett on the CW's "The Vampire Diaries," don't get it twisted — her artistic career goes far beyond a fictitious witch on TV. While she's grateful for her eight years on the series, she's the first to say her career is not defined by one role. The star has her hands full, juggling acting, music, dancing, philanthropic work, and fashion. Her humble beginnings as a granddaughter of refugees make her achievements in show business and as an artist much more significant, and no matter how far she goes in the industry, she always remembers where she came from.

Graham is unfazed by all her fame — heck, as she told Wonderland, she's yet to give up her 2009 Prius — and her down-to-earth attitude keeps her grounded. As she once told People, "I think when I booked 'Vampire Diaries,' I was sleeping on my mom's floor and I had 86 cents to my name." And rather than cash her first big TV paycheck and spend it on luxe digs, she stayed at her mom's apartment for a while to make sure the gig would stick. (Spoiler alert: the gig stuck.) Although her work revolves largely around Hollywood, she's adopted a simpler lifestyle living in Georgia, where people are less into her status and more into who she is as a person. There's a lot to uncover about this star, and we can't wait to get into the unfiltered, untold truth of the multi-talented Kat Graham.

She was in The Parent Trap

Kat Graham got her acting start in roles that defined many of our childhoods. The actor appeared in a minor role alongside Lindsay Lohan in "The Parent Trap" remake and even struck up a friendship with the leading actor. "[Lohan] introduced me to Hanson's 'MMMBop' ... and also ... Sugar Ray," Graham recalled to ET. "She introduced me to a whole new age of music."

"The Vampire Diaries" star knows how to tap into our childhood nostalgia. She played a major role in the reboot of "The Rise of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" which launched in 2018. When she signed on as the voice of April O'Neil, she became the first Black woman to portray the character, and the significance was not lost on Graham. "When I was growing up, there were no young black cartoon characters," she told Bustle. "I want young girls to see this and see there's a brown cartoon character they can relate to. That's my dream for this character and that's what I see for her." Graham voiced 31 episodes on the series for the two years the show ran, and she also starred in the "TMNT" movie that premiered on Netflix in 2022.

Fans loved her take on the fictional reporter. As one viewer tweeted, "History should remember this version as one of the best portrayals of the character. The #RiseoftheTMNT team allowed the world to see A DARKSKIN, BLACK FEMALE, Teenage girl be their lead human."

Kat Graham is Jewish

Kat Graham has a diverse family tree. She was born in Switzerland to a Jewish mother and a father of African descent. "In the third grade, I realized I was the only black kid in Hebrew school," she recalled to People in 2011. "But I wasn't bothered by it. I glorify being different." The actor frequently writes in Hebrew in her Instagram posts and even took a trip to Israel to visit her many family members there. 

While Graham observes Hanukkah, she keeps an open mind regarding the holiday season. "We're Jewish, but, we're a very inclusive family and we also celebrate Christmas," she told Us Weekly, "We're trying to have a very worldly, inspired Christmas, so we're including things from all over the world ... ornaments and stuff like that." In December 2021, she posted an adorable Instagram picture with her fiancé celebrating the holidays and wrote, "Wishing you the most beautiful Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa!"

In April 2022, Kat Graham got engaged

Congratulations are in order for Kat Graham and Darren Genet, as the director-producer popped the question in Mexico while the two celebrated his birthday in April 2022. The actor told People her boyfriend of five years pulled off the perfect surprise. "He totally got me 'cause I'm such a gullible, like, hippie, really," Graham recalled. Genet asked her to close her eyes while they were standing by the water, and when it came time for her to open them, we bet you can guess what he did next.

The two met after working in the same circles for many years, with Genet even producing a few "Vampire Diaries" episodes. Genet and Graham own "Frequency Films" and "Instinctive Entertainment" together, which are production companies headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Her fiancé also went on the road helping with her refugee work, as he detailed in an Instagram post. In the photo, he poses next to his fiance and other UNHCR workers in South Sudan. "I will be forever inspired by the commitment, compassion, kindness and sacrifice I've had the honor of sharing with these amazing people," Genet wrote.

As for what Graham can't go without on her wedding day, she told People, "Limoncello, Darren, my dog in a mini wedding dress, and my family." We say yes to that.

The Vampire Diaries star speaks five languages

Given Kat Graham's passion for helping people around the world and her love of travel, it probably doesn't hurt that she has five different languages in her toolbox. In addition to English and Hebrew, the actor also speaks Portuguese, Spanish, and French. As she explained to Reel Artsy, her father is fluent in French, and when she moved to Portugal with her dad, she was into her Portuguese instructor — which apparently motivated her to keep with the lessons. "I learned Portuguese just by being able to talk to him because he didn't speak English," Graham told the outlet. 

As for her Spanish skills, it started with her being cast as a Fanta Fantana. "I learned Spanish so that I could do interviews in Spanish for Fanta when I was doing the campaign for the soft drink," she told Reel Artsy. She also has a tattoo in Hebrew on her back, which she shared in an Instagram snap.

She toured with the Black Eyed Peas

Ever wonder whose sultry voice sings along to on the track "I Got It From My Mama"? Well, wonder no more, because it's no other than actor slash singer slash philanthropist extraordinaire Kat Graham. As she recalled to Wonderland, "My music career started at around age 15. I was taking my beats that I had made in a tiny Hollywood one-bedroom apartment with my mum around to labels in NYC to try and get artists to feature on them." A chance meeting with set the wheels in motion, and before she knew it, the Black Eyed Peas brought her on as a backup dancer and singer. What's more, she contributed vocals to some tracks.  

While "The Vampire Diaries" star is often recognized for her acting, music will forever be a big part of her life. "I've never transitioned out of acting, just like I've never transitioned out of music. I've always tried to do both simultaneously and the only reason I would ever not be able to do my acting is that I'd be touring my music and vice versa," she told the magazine.

In addition to supporting the Black Eyed Peas on the road, Graham also worked as a backup dancer for Missy Elliott and Gwen Stefani

She's an international covergirl

Kat Graham's got a lot of plates spinning, breaking boundaries in acting, music, and fashion. For starters, she was featured in Vogue, Vogue Brazil, Vogue China, and Vogue Arabia all in one year. Her humble beginnings have made being a fashion magazine star that much special for her. "I used to not be able to afford new clothes. I used to get clothes for $1 on Sundays vintage market and cut them up to try and make them cool and fashionable," Graham tweeted in 2020. "Fashion wasn't about looking rich, it was about self-expression. So this year to be featured in four international Vogues still blows my mind."

So who does Graham get inspiration from to absolutely slay on the red carpet and in all aspects of her life? "Jean Paul Gaultier represents authenticity, individuality, risk-taking, and inclusiveness, everything I treasure in life and in fashion," Graham told Vogue. The Swiss-born actor traveled to Paris in 2018 to sit at his show, and credits most of her looks on and off the carpet to the French designer. "When I first met Jean Paul Gaultier I was absolutely star struck," Graham tweeted. "JPG was the first big design house to dress me, to believe in me...I will forever be a Jean Paul Gaultier fan girl."

She doesn't need a glam squad

As if we weren't already impressed enough with Kat Graham, the actor is a master at her own beat. She rarely lets other people do her makeup, and she considers herself an expert at her own face. "I know exactly what I want, and I'm a Virgo. I can do it. I like to be self-sufficient and kind of a one-woman army. I don't like a lot of fluff around me," she once told The Cut.

As for how Graham learned her makeup skills? She credits her expertise to drag queens. "Before Vampire Diaries I was releasing music and the only people that would let me in to perform were drag queens, and you know, gay clubs in West Hollywood," she told Vogue when detailing her makeup routine. The CW star had Sutan Amrull, better known as "RuPaul's Drag Race" superstar Raja Gemini, take her under her wing and teach her to contour.

"The Vampire Diaries" star believes in embracing your natural beauty, and the same goes for her hair. While styling her natural hair in the aforementioned Vogue video, she shared, "I hope that I, one day can play a character that I actually look like. ... I just love having a 'fro."

She's an LGBTQ+ ally

In June 2022, Kat Graham dropped her new album "Long Hot Summer" and championed LGBTQ+ rights at the same time. Ahead of the album's release, Broadway World reported that she'd announced she'd only teamed up with GLAAD, but would be touring for a good cause. "The proceeds, everything that comes from this project goes to [GLAAD]. We're like the gay government. That's what I call us. If you come for us, we're coming for you," Graham told The Advocate. And she's coming for you — er, to your city, that is. She made tour stops in Ibiza, Sydney, London, Italy, Prague, and more.

The singer feels it's important to give back to those who uplifted her in her career. "I like to focus aggressively on putting my energy where it's needed," Graham said, "I saw that as a window to be able to put my projects and my art and my life force into giving to a community that has literally taken care of me." "The Vampire Diaries" alum has been a member of the Atlanta GLAAD chapter since 2009. Don't you just love a full-circle moment?

She's a wellness advocate

Kat Graham is all about taking care of herself, and she even created a wellness company with her friends called Modern Nirvana. Promoting a 2022 Modern Nirvana event on Instagram, the actor shared, "We wanted to create something amazing for you guys where you could experience everything from meditations, products, breathwork, experiences, movement and incredible panels of experts in all things wellness." Tickets for the annual event held in Austin, Texas, retail from around $200 to $300, as well as an option for a VIP dinner with the keynote speakers before the event retailing at around $1,500. Attendees have the chance to learn from various experts and healers as well as get the chance to try top wellness products from vendors.

Mental and spiritual growth are clearly important to Graham. "I keep myself open to different elevations of consciousness in the world," she once told Fuse. And she's more than ready to share her love of wellness with the world. As she wrote in the aforementioned Instagram post, "Finding what works for your mind body and soul isn't always an easy journey, but we will definitely make it fun and hold your hand every step of the way!" With her humanitarian work, hit music, extensive acting resume, jaw-dropping fashion, and passion for self-care, Graham really does it all

She clashed with her Vampire Diaries costar

It wasn't always smooth sailing for Kat Graham and her "The Vampire Diaries" castmate Ian Somerhalder. "Ian and I used to not like each other at all. We hated each other first season," Graham told Aol in 2014. "Now he's my best friend in the cast. He's the person I can say in 30 years will be one of my closest friends." The "All Eyez on Me" star blamed their 11-year age difference and their initially incompatible personalities. Thankfully, the tide changed, and the two connected. As executive producer Julie Plec told E! News in 2014, "Ian and Kat are super close. They love each other. They're very excited to work together."

Ready for this "Vampire Diaries" friendship to get even sweeter? Graham happens to have a strong bond with Somerhalder's wife, Nikki Reed. "Nikki is amazing, and we are very, very close," she told People in 2016. Reed is known for her humanitarian efforts and her passion for animals which she shares with her husband. With Graham's own love for helping others, it's no question why the two get along so well.

Kat Graham is worth millions

With such an extensive resume, it's no question that Kat Graham does pretty well for herself. So just how much is she worth? According to Celebrity Net Worth, she's worth a cool $3 million dollars. With "The Vampire Diaries" running for eight seasons from 2009 to 2017 and going down in history as one of the CW's most popular series, it's no question Graham raked in quite a bit playing Bonnie Bennett. She was a series regular from the start, and based on unconfirmed online reports, her per episode salary apparently fell around the $35,000 mark. 

The performer has most notably appeared in many movies, including "All Eyez on Me" as Jada Pinkett Smith, as well as "How It Ends" alongside Theo James. Fans can catch her on Netflix portraying the lead female role in the Netflix film "Love in the Villa" as well as April O' Neil in Netflix's "Rise of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie."

But beyond her acting accolades, her musical talent has also contributed to her cash flow. Her dance hit "Put Your Graffiti on Me" also made it to the fifth spot on the Billboard Dance Chart in 2012 after she signed with A&M/Octone/Interscope records. What's more, she worked with legendary musician Prince on her album "Love Music, Funk Magic," which also rose to number five on the Billboard Dance Chart after its release in 2017. With no plans of stopping anytime soon, the singer continues to dominate in all facets of artistic expression.