Also Credited As:Kat Graham
|September 5, 1989|
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Graham was born on Sept. 5, 1989 in Geneva, Switzerland to Joseph and Natasha Graham. She was of Liberian and Russian Jewish descent. Her father, a music executive, was on assignment in Geneva when she was born. Fluent in four languages, the future star moved to Los Angeles with her mother after her parents split and it was in her new home that she was instantly exposed to the various cultures, sights, and sounds of the city. An attractive child, Graham began appearing in commercials at the age of six, booking campaigns for Barbie, K-Mart, Old Navy, and Kellogg's Pop Tarts. By 1998, Graham's acting career truly began when she landed a supporting role in the family film "The Parent Trap," a remake of Disney's 1961 classic.
She made her television debut in 2002 as a replacement host for singer Christina Milian on the Disney Channel series "Movie Surfers" (1998- ), a behind-the-scenes program which followed the cast and crew of various films and TV shows. Giddy over the experience on the other side of the camera, Graham later remembered her interviews with Bruce Willis and Denzel Washington as the most memorable for her. That same year, Graham also appeared in an episode of the cable network's highly-rated 'tween show, "Lizzie McGuire" (Disney Channel, 2001-04) as a member of a junior high clique. Graham, whose youthful look was perfect for teen-centric programs, played a similar role a few years later when she guest-starred in a 2008 episode of "Hannah Montana," another mega-successful Disney comedy series; this one starring Miley Cyrus.
Graham "Lizzie" scenes opposite then-teen queen Hilary Duff caught the attention of casting agents eager for a multi-talented teen. She booked guest roles that showcased her rang in several comedy and drama series - from "Malcolm in the Middle" (Fox, 2000-06) to "Joan of Arcadia" (CBS, 2003-05). Graham, who also had an advanced dance background, was handpicked by celebrity choreographer, Fatima, to perform as a backup dancer for rapper Bow Wow at the third annual BET Awards (2003). That performance led to more dance collaborations with other artists, including Elliott, Pharrell Williams and Jamie Foxx.
Even though her acting and dance careers were on the rise, a teenage Graham still felt she still was not reaching her full potential. What she really wanted was to pursue a music career. Despite not having a producer nor a demo to hand out to potential labels, Graham bought recording equipment with money she saved from her previous acting jobs and taught herself how to produce music. When she was 16, she enrolled at Musician's Institute in Los Angeles while attending high school at the same time. A year later, she was picked to become one of four "Fantanas" - bubbly and beautiful spokespersons for Fanta soft drink - in a national advertising campaign.
Meeting influential producer Damon Elliott, who had previously collaborated with artists such as Pink, Mya and Destiny's Child, was the big break Graham had been waiting for. With Elliott as her mentor, the star furthered her music career with vocals on singer will.i. am's 2007 album, Songs About Girls. Graham sang on two tracks, the Snoop Dogg collaboration "The Donque Song" and the catchy "I Got It From My Mama." The latter was a hit on pop and urban radio nationwide, with Graham's smooth R&B-infused vocals becoming the song's true highlight. She released her solo single "Boyfriend's Back" in 2009, with lyrics inspired by her own breakup with a boyfriend earlier that year.
Graham continued to work on her acting career by making a leap to feature films in 2009 with "17 Again" starring alongside leads Matthew Perry and Zac Efron. The actress played a flirty high school student and the most popular girl in school who befriends Efron's character (Perry played the adult version of the same character) in the hit comedy. She also appeared in "Boogie Town" (2009), a hip-hop version of "West Side Story" (1961) that involved rival New York City gangs and two star-crossed lovers caught in the middle, as well as the Cedric the Entertainer-directed comedy, "Chicago Pulaski Jones" (2009) as Kel Mitchell's love interest, Chaka Lovebell.
The success of the film "Twilight" (2008), based on the equally successful Stephenie Meyer-penned book series, as well as the HBO drama "True Blood" (2008- ), paved the way for a similarly-themed series on The CW -"The Vampire Diaries." Graham played Bonnie, the best friend of a young woman (Nina Dobrev) who falls in love with a vampire. Like the "Twilight" saga, "The Vampire Diaries" was also based on a popular young adult series of books; these penned by author L.J. Smith. The romantic horror/drama series premiered in September 2009 to high expectations.
Moving back to the big screen, Graham co-starred with fellow CW star Leighton Meester in the feature film "The Roommate" (2010). In it, the actress played a college student who discovers that her dorm roommate (Meester) is out to ruin - or possibly end - her life. Graham also acted in "Bleachers" (2010), a mediocre attempt to recreate John Hughes' 1985 classic "The Breakfast Club," about six high school students from different social cliques who are forced to spend a day in school suspension.