Although the actress got her acting start on Degrassi: The Next Generation, she’s been known for her role as Elena Gilbert on The CW series. Nina played Elena — along with Katherine Pierce and Amara — for six seasons until saying goodbye to the show in 2015.
“When we talked over the years, I always felt Elena’s journey would be a six-year journey, and I felt that I did so much in those six years, and I wanted to always feel that passion, and that excitement, and fond memories. And I do,” the Bulgaria native told The Hollywood Reporter at the time. “I have nothing but love for every single person there. The show must go on, and it is going on, and I’m excited to see what next season is going to be like.”
Nina went on to tell the publication that there “wasn’t one specific moment” she knew her time on the show had come to an end.
“I just knew I wanted to go on this journey with these characters, and their lives. … It’s a vampire show. It’s been a great journey, but at the end of the day, I’m not actually a vampire,” she explained. “The fairy-tale has to end, and the next chapter has to begin. I knew this was my time, and I’m excited for the next step. I am very sad that I’m not going to get to spend every day with my favorite people in the world, but, that’s why we have FaceTime and phone calls. Friendships are like vampires: They’ll last forever if they’re real.”
Before eventually returning as Elena for The Vampire Diaries series finale in 2017, Nina kicked off her successful movie career. Over the years, she’s starred in flicks like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Flatliners, Love Hard and Let’s Be Cops, among others. Despite having moved on from her TVD days, Nina told Refinery29 in November 2021 that fans still come up to her and praise the series.
“Especially in the last year,” she explained. “At first I wasn’t sure why but then I realized over the pandemic a lot of new people have discovered it on Netflix.”
Going forward, the actress has tons of projects on the horizon, and she’s not shying away from any possible rom-com roles that may come her way. “I’ve only done one other rom-com,” Nina joked to Refinery29. “Talk to me in a few years.”
Scroll through our gallery to see her total transformation over the years.
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