There are often starlets who are in the industry for years and years before they find the role that truly catapults them to superstardom — and for Nina Dobrev, playing various characters on The Vampire Diaries was definitely that opportunity. Dobrev had been working in Canadian television for a while before she snagged the leading role in a teen drama as a relatively unknown young starlet. The studio took a chance on her — they could have easily cast an actress who was more recognizable at the time — and it paid off big time. She was one of the main reasons the show was a huge success.
Dobrev isn't the kind of actress who is content to rest on her laurels though and has been working hard to get other gigs, including various film roles. She's quickly becoming a major name you need to know in Hollywood, and the sky is the limit when it comes to the kinds of roles she can take on. After all, if she could essentially play two different characters on the show — as she did with Elena and Katherine on The Vampire Diaries — she can easily handle whatever is thrown her way.
So, if you've been seeing Dobrev everywhere but just don't know that much about the Canadian cutie, we've got you covered — here are 17 things you need to know.
17 She Competed Internationally In Gymnastics
Nina Dobrev has always carried herself with a certain grace and, despite being fairly slim, has always looked very athletic. That's because she has a background that combines both athleticism and grace — she competed internationally in rhythmic gymnastics. She represented Canada in 2005 in the Junior and Senior World Championships. However, she eventually reached a point where she had to make the choice between gymnastics and acting because both were requiring quite a time commitment. Luckily for us, she ended up pursuing acting — and we have a feeling she hasn't regretted her decision for a minute, given the success she's achieved. Although, who knows — perhaps one day her two passions will combine and she'll play a character who is a rhythmic gymnast, and she'll get a chance to brush up her old skills. Stranger things have happened!
16 She Was Born In Sofia, Bulgaria
Many people refer to Dobrev as Canadian, because that's one of the major things that sets her apart from all the American starlets who are also trying to make it in Hollywood. However, she wasn't born in Canada — Dobrev actually hails from Sofia, Bulgaria. She lived there until she was two, at which point her parents decided to move to Canada with the family. She still speaks fluent Bulgarian and is in touch with her Bulgarian roots, which is super cool. Luckily, she changed her name a little bit when she was trying to become a star — she shortened it to Nina Dobrev from Nikolina Konstantinova Dobreva, which, while a beautiful name, would certainly be a tough one for reporters to pronounce on the red carpet. She's one smart cookie!
15 She Got Discovered At Her Toronto Acting Studio
There are many, many aspiring actors and actresses who go to some kind of acting coach or acting school, and let's be honest — the vast majority of those people will never become superstars. It's just a fact. Very few people succeed in Hollywood, and often, it's not solely about talent — you need to have that extra little something, that undefinable quality that makes people want to go to the theatre to see your latest project. However, Dobrev is one of the few who managed to actually get discovered from attending one of those training institutions. She was working with the Armstrong Acting Studio in Toronto when an agent spotted her and thought she would be the perfect fit for an upcoming role. And the rest, as they say, is history.
14 She Studied Sociology At Ryerson University
Actors have a bit of an unusual relationship with education. There are some who study drama at a post-secondary level, thinking that perhaps that will give them a little edge over the competition, or perhaps simply because they wanted to get a degree and couldn't imagine doing anything other than acting. Then, there are some that take a hiatus from a successful career to live a normal life and attending college, studying something that interests them. Dobrev falls into the latter camp. She started attending university at Ryerson University in Toronto, and when it came to picking her major, she went for sociology. She explained the decision to the school paper, saying that "I'd rather do what I'm doing at work and then go to school to learn about something completely different that I don't know much about so I can expand." She ended up leaving partway through her degree, though, to pursue acting opportunities.
13 She's Dated Two Former Co-Stars
There are many actors and actresses who are happily married or in strong relationships that see the things they have to do on screen as just another part of their job. They'll manufacture the chemistry as needed, but they don't actually develop feelings for their co-star. However, there are also times when that chemistry becomes too much to take, and a real-life relationship develops from a co-star relationship. Dobrev has been in that situation not only once, but twice. Everyone knows that she dated her The Vampire Diaries co-star Ian Somerhalder for a few years, but did you know that she also ended up dating her co-star from the Canadian hit Degrassi: The Next Generation, Daniel Clark, for a while? Those sparks must be flying on set whenever Dobrev shows up!
12 One Of Her Hobbies Is Making Jewelry
There are many celebrities who end up working with brands to create a collaboration, designing a handbag or line of accessories or even clothing line. After all, they're around fashion all the time, and many celebs absolutely love fashion — why not take a unique opportunity when it presents itself? Nina Dobrev isn't waiting for a brand to approach her for a collaboration, though — she's looking to set out on her own. She apparently absolutely loves making jewelry in her spare time and has her sights set on starting her own jewelry line sometime in the future. She's pretty busy now with her insanely busy acting career, but who knows — perhaps at some point, she'll take a year or so off and focus on building another business. We can't wait to see what kind of creations she comes up with.
11 Her Family Grew Up Struggling Financially
Nina Dobrev definitely isn't one of those starlets that were born with a silver spoon in her mouth. As she told Harper's Bazaar, she and her family lived with another family in a tiny one-bedroom apartment, and her parents worked multiple jobs to try to make ends meet for their family. And, while many of her friends at school shopped at luxe boutiques, she got her clothing from the local thrift store, Value Village. Her parents eventually ended up finding their footing in their new country and becoming a bit more comfortable, but it definitely took a while. Now, though, Dobrev has reached a point in her life where she could easily help them out if the need arose, which is pretty amazing. She probably got a lot of her work ethic from her parents.
10 She Once Went On A Solo Backpacking Expedition Through Europe And Asia
Let's be honest — when you imagine a celebrity going on vacation, you probably imagine them spending the majority of their time in luxe resorts or hotels, hitting up the best restaurants a city has to offer and basically just living a lavish lifestyle. However, for Nina Dobrev, that couldn't be further from the truth. Once, when she had a bit of time on her hands during a hiatus from The Vampire Diaries, she bought a ticket and headed off to Europe and East Asia to backpack. Her decision ended up being quite smart, because as she admits, "nobody imagines me to be by myself backpacking, so they just think, 'it can't be her'" if they spot the celeb abroad. She got an amazing trip full of adventure, on her own terms.
9 She Lived In Atlanta For Years While Filming The Vampire Diaries
Nina Dobrev has certainly called various cities home over the years. At the beginning of her career, she lived in Toronto in her native Canada. Then, when she booked her role on The Vampire Diaries, she ended up moving to Atlanta to live for several years while that filmed there. Now that she's no longer filming on a regular basis in Atlanta, she's made the move to Los Angeles, the heart of the entertainment industry. She's been working primarily on films, where you're only on location filming for a short period of time, if you leave Los Angeles at all, so that's her new home base. However, who knows — she's proven that she's willing to move for a role, so perhaps if she gets another big television gig she'll be packing up her belongings and hitting the road to live elsewhere yet again.
8 She LOVES Shoes And Has Got Hundreds Of Pairs
Dobrev always looks amazing, and there's one particular part of her wardrobe we often find ourselves coveting — her shoes. And that, it turns out, is no accident — the star confesses that she owns "too many" pairs — as in, around 300. From heels to flats to casual sneakers, variety is the spice of life, so why not add to your collection when you have the opportunity? She also often likely gets things sent to her from various brands, or from her stylist, so her collection will likely only continue to grow over the years. We know many celebs are quite private, but we have to admit, we'd love to get a glimpse into her shoe collection sometime. Can you even imagine owning that many pairs of gorgeous footwear? It sounds like a dream come true!
7 Her First Major Television Role Was As A Pregnant Teen Mom On Degrassi
Dobrev was cast as a recurring character on the Canadian show Degrassi: The Next Generation when she was still young, but she definitely didn't have an easy character to play. Her character, Mia, was a single teen mom who started raising her baby daughter when she was just 14. She had several tough storylines, and spend several seasons on the show before she ended up moving on to roles on American television. Dobrev has mentioned previously that being on the show definitely gave her good insight into what went on behind the scenes, and what the structure of filming television was like — which was invaluable when she managed to snag her role on The Vampire Diaries. Even though she was still quite new to the whole acting thing, she had some major experience under her belt.
6 She's A Huge Yogi
Dobrev is a former gymnast, and when she quit gymnastics in order to focus on acting, she had to find some kind of physical activity to fill that gap in her life — and she ended up falling head over heels in love with yoga. She's busted out some yoga moves on various talk show appearances over the years, and is often sharing pictures of her yoga poses on Instagram. She's even mentioned that she'd love to open up a yoga studio someday. One thing is for sure — while she enjoys yoga for a variety of reasons, the fact that it has given her an enviably sculpted physique definitely doesn't hurt. Actresses are required to stay in shape at all times and finding a workout that you look forward to and don't dread probably really helps.
5 She Has An Adorable Dog Named Maverick
Adopting dogs from shelters has become a major trend in Hollywood, and we have to admit, we hope the practice sticks around forever — the fact that celebrities are bringing the public's attention to shelters and encouraging them to get their pets from there is a hugely positive thing. Dobrev is one of the many celebs who went to the shelter when she wanted to add a furry friend to her life, and she found her dog, Maverick — named after Tom Cruise's character in Top Gun. Dobrev mentions that "she rescued me as much as I rescued her," which is absolutely adorable. You'll often see Dobrev sharing Instagram shots of her and Maverick on their various adventures on set and in Los Angeles — if you don't follow her yet, getting glimpses of Maverick is a major reason you should!
4 She's A Bit Of A Daredevil
So, it turns out that Nina Dobrev is a bit of a daredevil — who knew? As she admits, "my rule of thumb is, I'll try anything once" and "I have a healthy — or possibly unhealthy — obsession with trying things for the first time." She definitely picked the right career path — while celebs work with stunt doubles more often than not, she still probably gets a chance to try out a ton of cool adventures through her various roles on screen. Dobrev has shared some of her adventures with fans and has videos of her skydiving, rock climbing, swimming with sharks, bungee jumping and more. The girl has never met an adventure she didn't like, and that's majorly amazing — we have a feeling she'll be seeking out more action roles in the years to come, just to see what cool activities she can add to her list!
3 She's Besties With Julianne Hough
Often, celebrity friendships seem a little, well, fake. Celebrities start hanging out together and being snapped by the paparazzi on their various outings, and then a few months later, they're never seen together. We're not sure if friendships are just fickle, or if they just can't make their schedules work, but it's definitely a thing. However, Nina Dobrev's friendship with dancer and actress Julianne Hough definitely seems genuine. The two are pictured together constantly, and she just gushes about Hough. She recently commented that "I try to surround myself with a group I admire who push me to be the best version of myself. Julianne is the perfect example. She is so kind and supportive of everything I do. We work out and cook together. There is a positive energy there." Talk about friendship goals!
2 She's A Coachella Queen
There are countless celebrities who go to Coachella, but Nina Dobrev is definitely considered at Coachella queen. Though she's young, she's managed to attend the festival a staggering nine times over the years — which is insane! It seems that she's just a huge music fan who loves the vibe that Coachella has, and who can blame her? She's often spotted in super cute festival gear, hanging out with her girl squad and just feeling the festival vibes. Perhaps one day she'll be able to transform her festival experience into a role — we'd love to see her on screen playing a boho-chic festival lover involved in some kind of personal drama. Can someone please write that script? We'd love to see it brought to life on the big screen!
1 She's A Huge Fan Of Westworld
Celebrities are often super busy working on their own projects in the entertainment industry, so it's always kind of interesting to see what types of movies and television shows they're watching in their downtime. In Nina Dobrev's case, it seems she's all about Westworld. She mentioned that, if she were to get a chance to appear on the show, she would jump on it. "I want to do that so badly," Dobrev said. "It would be huge to be on that show. I just think it would be so amazing. It's just so cool — both a period piece and a futuristic concept. An actor playing the host gets to be a machine and they get to be sort of human. It would be a dream. I would love it." Talk about a fangirl!
Sources: gurl.com, imdb.com, harpersbazaar.com, footwearnews.com, prestigeonline.com