Kat Graham made her first appearance in our beloved film The Parent Trap. Since 1998, she’s gone on to star in The Vampire Diaries, has had a career as a singer, dancer, and actress, and has used her platform to advocate for refugees. Plus, she sometimes Instagrams in Hebrew.
She’s ridiculously impressive, so it’s time for 18 things to know about Kat Graham!
1. Graham was born Katerina Alexandre Hartfor Graham in Geneva, Switzerland in 1989, and was raised in Los Angeles, California.
2. Her dad is Americo-Liberian and her mom is Jewish, raised in Israel; Kat Graham was raised Jewish. Her dad “comes from a long line of African politicians; my mother comes from Russian-Polish Jews.”
3. Her half-brother, Yaakov, was born in Tel Aviv, and she still has a lot of family in Israel. Here she is with her cousin Ilanit (featuring aforementioned Hebrew caption):
4. She was in the iconic Funny Or Die video “Black and Jewish” (a “Black and Yellow” parody) with Kali Hawk.
5. She speaks five languages: English, Spanish, French, and a little bit of Hebrew and Portuguese.
Traveling with my mom and she’s decided this is the time to start teaching me cuss words in Hebrew 😩
— Kat Graham (@KatGraham) January 20, 2018
“My mom raised me, she’s Jewish so she spoke Hebrew and put me in Hebrew school and before that she had me in French school,” Graham explained on why she knows so many languages. “My father speaks fluent French. He moved to Portugal and I had this crazy crush when I was like 14-years-old on the Portuguese instructor guy, he was young too, and I learned Portuguese just by being able to talk to him because he didn’t speak English. And then I learned Spanish so that I could do interviews in Spanish for Fanta when I was doing the campaign for the soft drink.”
6. “In the third grade, I realized I was the only Black kid in Hebrew school. But I wasn’t bothered by it. I glorify being different,” Graham said.
7. She has a back tattoo in Hebrew. It says אהבה הקרבה ללא פחד כבוש. However, the פחד is accidentally פהד which is not a word.
Her tattoo either translates to “love sacrifice without occupied fear,” or, “love that comes closer without occupied fear.” Honestly, we don’t really know what either of those mean.
who's really good at writing old script hebrew? אני רוצה קיעקוע חדש
— Kat Graham (@KatGraham) March 16, 2012
That Hebrew tweet says “I want a new tattoo,” but tattoo is unfortunately misspelled.
8. Her TV debut was on Lizzie McGuire in 2002 (!!) and she also appeared on Hannah Montana, The O.C., Malcom in the Middle, and more.
9. She is perhaps best known for her role on The Vampire Diaries, as teenage witch Bonnie Bennett.
(Honestly the best character on the show.)
10. On playing Bonnie, Kat said, “I learned a lot about what kind of actor I wanted to be. Work always comes first as an actor. I think a lot of young girls see actresses and they think of red carpets and they think of Us Weekly and they don’t really think about the breaking down of a script and what that requires and what you would need to pull it off. I learned about teamwork and about communication and about standing up for yourself. I learned about poise and dignity, and I learned about what it means to be an African-American in television and what that requires in terms of what kind of position you take for yourself and how you define your own reality in a world that is still finding its footing, to say the least.”
11. She’s also a singer and dancer! She’s had a long career as a musician, releasing her first song in 2002. She’s since put out two albums — Roxbury Drive (2015) and Love Music Funk Magic (2017).
Just watch her (in awe):
One more music video? Sure, why not:
12. Since 2013, she’s worked with UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency. In her capacity as a UNHCR supporter, she’s worked to bring attention to the plight of refugees, visiting refugee camps for displaced Syrians, Somalians, and others.
13. “People always ask how I found what I’m passionate about,” Kat told Marie Claire. “I say, ‘Well, first you look at who you are.’ I don’t see myself separate from a refugee. “I’m an immigrant, not born in this country. My family is so close to having dealt with political strife and slavery on both sides that I feel like I have this deep need to support these communities and have always felt that, even as a little girl.”
14. Writing about her own family on Instagram, she said, “When my grandfather fled during the Charles Taylor regime, he automatically became a refugee. When my grandmother fled England because of the holocaust, she became a refugee. And here I am the granddaughter of refugees working with the UN Refugee agency. I hadn’t been to Geneva since I was born. And I hadn’t really put it all together until recently honestly. Some things are just our destiny… I truly believe that.”
View this post on Instagram
Today is the #GlobalRefugeeForum held in my birthplace of Geneva… so I wanted to share a personal family journey. When my grandfather fled during the Charles Taylor regime, he automatically became a refugee. When my grandmother fled England because of the holocaust, she became a refugee. And here I am the granddaughter of refugees working with the UN Refugee agency. I hadn’t been to Geneva since I was born. And I hadn’t really put it all together until recently honestly. Some things are just our destiny… I truly believe that. My parents were in Geneva because my grandfather was the UN ambassador from Liberia to Switzerland after fleeing the civil war. My father was doing journalism for the UN. Please remember to always have an open heart and an open door to refugees. You never know what they are fleeing from or who they might become. #ChildOfARefugee #Refugee #UNHCR #EveryoneCounts #Refugees #WithRefugees
15. Her fanbase is apparently called the Katpack, which is just the greatest fandom name. Israeli fans often comment on her Instagram, like when this one wrote “She’s the prettiest in the world,” and Kat replied (in Hebrew!), “haaa i’m not, but thanks?”
16. While we’re here, her fashion on Instagram is really, really good.
This article could really be Kat Graham’s 18 Best Looks.
Okay, one more, because she captioned it “Now Vogue Bitch!!”
17. 2019 was a big year for Kat fashion-wise; she was featured in four international Vogue issues:
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. Fashion wasn’t about looking rich, it was about self-expression. So this year to be featured in four international Vogues pic.twitter.com/oIpYzRZg49
— Kat Graham (@KatGraham) December 23, 2019
18. An inspirational note to end on? “I see a lot more from where I’m standing now because I got bullied. I’ve had everything from racism to anti-Semitism to sexism. I’ve dealt with it all. You just can’t back down. When you’re a woman, you have to stand up for what you believe in.”
With help from Grace Yagel and Lior Zaltzman for Hebrew translations. Image of Kat Graham in header by Christian Vierig/GC Images.