The Internet nearly broke earlier this year when Nina Dobrev took to Instagram to announce that she’d be leaving The Vampire Diaries, the show that catapulted her career and fame to next level. But fans aren’t the only ones adjusting to a world without Elena Gilbert. After a six-year run, Dobrev finds herself navigating a life without boundaries.
In an exclusive interview with Who What Wear, Dobrev opens up about transitioning into adulthood, breaking fashion rules, and determining the future of her career.
Sitting in the hair and makeup chair on the Beverly Hills set of her Who What Wear shoot, Dobrev is on the phone with best friend Julianne Hough. The two are gushing over the dancer’s engagement to professional hockey player Brooks Laich, which was revealed just that morning. While the pressure to settle down is common among most people Dobrev’s age, the 26-year-old isn’t in any rush. “I believe in the timing of my life,” she tells us. “I’m so happy for Julianne. I don’t think she could be with anyone more perfect than Brooks, but she wasn’t on a show for six years. I feel like I’m playing catch-up on basic life things that I didn’t get to do working so much.”
After portraying a high school student for nearly eight years—two of those on the hit show Degrassi: The Next Generation—Dobrev is on the fast track to adulthood, beginning with purchasing and decorating her first L.A. home, which she admits has been a long, eye-opening experience. “I’ve been getting ideas from [my designers, Consort's Brandon Qattrone and MyDomaine editor at large Mat Sanders] and stepping out of my usual patterns and doing things that I never would have done,” she says. “I’ve been trusting them a lot and taking risks, but it has paid off.”
Credits: Saint Laurent Striped Turtleneck ($1350); Jill Stuart skirt.
Some would argue parting ways with her Vampire Diaries family was a risky move for the actress, but Dobrev has never looked back. As the CW series returns for its seventh season this fall, the actress is keeping her eyes on the road ahead, and that means steering clear of anything vampire related. The fear of being typecast has made Dobrev picky about her next roles—a luxury most actors can only dream of. “I want to do something dark and gritty,” she says. “I want to work with directors that I admire and that will make me better and actors that will challenge me and scare the sh*t out of me.”
Credit: Balenciaga Ribbed Angora Side-Slit Sweater ($1255).
Dobrev knows climbing the Hollywood totem pole isn’t easy, but it’s all about the journey for the star, not the destination. The prospect of being the worst actor in the room doesn’t intimidate Dobrev; in fact, it excites her at this point in her career. She uses the challenge as motivation to rise to the level of those around her. “That’s how I was in gymnastics,” she says. “I started really late for my age, and everyone said I would never amount to do much. Because I was older, they put me in the age group with much better gymnasts. And when I was around them, because they were so good and I felt insignificant in comparison, it made me work a lot harder. That’s the Capricorn in me: very ambitious and very competitive.”
Nearing her 27th birthday and the beginning of her Saturn return—a time, according to astrologists, when someone faces a great deal of personal growth and significant beginnings and endings—it makes sense that Dobrev is in the midst of a series of life changes. In the last six months, she has shifted her career focus, moved from Atlanta to Los Angeles, and transitioned from a strict, regimented work schedule to complete freedom. “It’s very accurate,” she laughs, “and explains a lot of why I am the way I am, what I’ve achieved, and where I’m going.”
This month, Dobrev stars alongside Malin Akerman and Taissa Farmiga in The Final Girls, a fresh take on the horror-movie parody. “It’s something I hadn’t seen or read before,” Dobrev tells us about the script. “We make fun of horror movies, break them down, and challenge the stereotypes.” What ultimately sold the film for the actress, though, was that at its core, the story is about women supporting other women, not women fighting over the guy. It’s something she practices within her own girl squad, only she prefers it be called the unicorn gang, a silly inside joke that stemmed from a YouTube video. “[Unicorns] are mystical, they are beautiful, they are rare, and they are special,” she says. “And we think we are all of those things, and we celebrate each other as women for that reason.”
We can’t leave our conversation with Dobrev without talking a little bit about fashion. After all, the actress is a regular resident on best-dressed lists, including many of our own. Dobrev says she’s a bit of a rule breaker when it comes to her style, and even admitted to often swapping her heels for flats post–red carpet. “In her life in general, Nina is hands-down the most adventurous, spontaneous person I know,” Dobrev’s stylist, Ilaria Urbinati, tells us. “And what I love about dressing her is that that translates into her style. She is very confident in her choices and is always down to experiment, from the outfit to the brands to the hair and makeup.” When it comes to her day-to-day look, Dobrev finds inspiration from people on the street, in films, and at photo shoots, like our own. We asked her about the probability of cutting her bangs—a look she seamlessly pulled off for today’s story—and she quickly responded, “I didn’t know I could pull that off, but now I do. Who knows? I might cut my hair.” Just add it to her waiting list of noteworthy changes.
Photographer: Zoey Grossman; Hair: Luke Chamberlain; Makeup: Beau Nelson; Stylist: Zoe Costello; Manicurist: Michelle Saunders.
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