Also Credited As:Nina Constantinova Dobreva
|Nina Constantinova Dobreva on January 9, 1989 in Sofia, BG|
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Born Nina Constantinova Dobreva on Jan. 9, 1989 in Sofia, Bulgaria, she was one of two children born to Michaela, an artist, and Konstantin, a computer expert. At age two, Dobrev, her brother Alexander and her parents relocated to Toronto, Canada, where the young girl became involved in singing, dancing and gymnastics at an early age. Modeling and acting soon followed, with the youngster's fluency in English, French and Bulgarian being of added benefit. Upon graduating from Toronto's JB Tyrrell Sr. Public School, Dobrev went on to study performance at the Dean Armstrong Acting School and the Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts. By this time, the vibrant young actress had begun landing small roles in various Canadian productions, including actress-writer-director Sarah Polley's acclaimed Alzheimer's drama "Away from Her" (2006), starring Julie Christie. Dobrev's first significant break came in 2006, when she joined the teen soap opera "Degrassi: The Next Generation (TEENick, 2001- ) in its sixth season. Cast as Mia Jones, a 16-year-old cheerleader struggling to balance school with the stigma of being a single teenaged mother, it gave the outwardly squeaky-clean Dobrev an early opportunity to push herself as an actress.
In and around her three seasons on "Degrassi," Dobrev continued to land increasingly prominent roles in both film and television productions. She appeared in flashback in the drama "Fugitive Pieces" (2007), the story of a Polish Jew who, after seeing his parents killed and his sister (Dobrev) taken by the Nazis, escapes to Greece and Canada, left to wonder about his sibling's fate decades later. A pair of co-starring roles came in another WWII drama, "The Poet" (2007), as the daughter of a German officer in love with a Jewish boy, and as a teen bride coping with the realities of being a wife in the made-for-TV melodrama "Too Young to Marry" (Lifetime, 2007). Dobrev also tackled roles in several genre films, including such low-budget, direct-to-DVD efforts like the teen thriller "My Daughter's Secret" (2007) and the horror movie "Never Cry Werewolf" (2008). Hoping for success with the production team that delivered the smash hit "High School Musical" (Disney Channel, 2006) and its sequels, Dobrev took on the role of a fame-chasing young singer on the musical-comedy "The American Mall" (MTV, 2008). Unfortunately, lightning would not strike twice for the producers, as "The American Mall" premiered to exceptionally low ratings. Undeterred, Dobrev chose to leave Toronto's Ryerson University in 2008, where she had majored in sociology the year prior, in order to focus more fully on her acting career.
Based on a series of supernatural-themed young adult novels by L. J. Smith, "The Vampire Diaries" (The CW, 2009- ) was developed by the teen genre mastermind behind "Dawson's Creek" (The WB, 1998-2003), Kevin Williamson. When it was announced in early 2009 that the raven-haired Dobrev had been cast as the saga's female protagonist, Elena Gilbert, fans of the novels initially expressed outrage, as the character was written as a blonde, blue-eyed beauty. Fan fears were soon put to rest, however, as the show - about two ageless vampire brothers (Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder) feud over the object of their affection, the all too human Elena, in the small town of Mystic Falls - quickly became one of the struggling network's most successful series. Both an added benefit and extra challenge for Dobrev was the fact that she was tasked with playing a second character, narcissistic vampire Katherine Pierce, former love of the bloodsucking brothers Stefan (Wesley) and Damon (Somerhalder) and the doppelgänger of Elena. As Dobrev and the attractive ensemble cast received such accolades as a 2010 People's Choice Award for Favorite New Drama, while her smoldering onscreen scenes Somerhalder had many fans wondering if a relationship might be brewing off camera as well.
During breaks in production from "The Vampire Diaries," Dobrev took every opportunity to add breadth and depth to her growing list of screen credits. Following the show's first season, she lent support alongside Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson and Amanda Seyfried in acclaimed indie director Atom Egoyan's erotic thriller "Chloe" (2010). Less notable was a turn opposite Samuel L. Jackson and heartthrob Kellan Lutz in the direct-to-DVD action-adventure, "Arena" (2011) and a supporting role in the collegiate thriller "The Roommate" (2011), starring fellow CW alum Leighton Meester. In the summer of 2011, after months of speculation, Dobrev and Somerhalder - or "Nian," as their fans dubbed them - at last confirmed their ongoing romantic relationship which had begun on-set a year earlier. was a banner year for Dobrev, who won a People's Choice Award for Favorite TV Drama Actress with her work on what fans now referred to as "TVD" and appeared in theaters in the well-regarded coming of age dramedy "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" (2012), in which she played the concerned sister of a socially awkward high school student (Logan Lerman). The film, which co-starred Emma Watson and Ezra Miller, picked up a People's Choice Award for Favorite Drama Movie early the following year.
By Bryce P. Coleman