Kat Graham Reflects on 'The Vampire Diaries,' Lindsay Lohan Friendship

Kat Graham has had plenty of incredible experiences in Hollywood. ET spoke with the 31-year-old actress and singer about her latest film, Operation Christmas Drop — which is out on Netflix now — and she also reflected on her beloved past projects.

Graham starred on The Vampire Diaries from 2009-2017, playing Bonnie Bennett. Graham has been an outspoken supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, and commented on Riverdale‘s Vanessa Morgan calling out her own CW show in June for using Black characters “as side kick non dimensional characters to our white leads.”

Graham says that in her own personal experience, she felt heard.

“I will say that I was fortunate in a lot of ways because if I ever felt anything — at the time Mark Pedowitz, who is still the president of The CW, who’s also Jewish, he was a really great ear for me,” she tells ET’s Katie Krause. “There are a lot of great people in different studios that really do make themselves available to have conversations where there are things missing and there needs to be a shift of awareness. I will focus on the positive and people who really had my back and helped me understand what I needed to do and how I could support them in elevating the narrative of being young, Black, female in Hollywood. So, I’d like to use that time that I have with you to tell you how amazing and supportive they were on this journey for me.”

“I’ve had a lot of support in terms of awareness in terms of support of writers, producers, directors, and I’ve been able to communicate any sort of racism or marginalization or tokenism I might have experienced whether on that show, or on other projects that I’ve dealt with,” she continues. “It’s not a new experience, but I did have to educate myself and figure out what can I do to help elevate this for other women who might come after me.”

Graham is hopeful that things are changing in the future.

“I feel like things are shifting, but to be honest, we’re all in a bit of a bubble and a lot of us haven’t been on set,” she notes. “So, I don’t know if I can say, ‘Oh, I’m on set and the level of diversity and equity and there’s a balance.’ … What I’m excited about seeing is the shift of consciousness and there’s been a huge shift of consciousness this year, and I’m really excited to see the work … [organizations and people] are doing to help really elevate the message and alleviate the suffering that people are experiencing where people don’t feel heard. So, yes, I’m feeling the change of the awareness.”

Another project Graham talked to ET about was working on 1998’s The Parent Trap alongside Lindsay Lohan, in which she played Jackie, one of Lohan’s character Annie’s camp besties. Though her lines ended up getting cut, she remembers making friends with Lohan.

“I was in it and it was like, the first film I did, and I went with my mom to the set and I remember Lindsay very, very well, and Hallie and all the kids there, and I totally remember that, and I remember a lot more of that even more than even the things over the past 10 years,” she shares. “And I also remember etiquette. I remember being on set and really observing what being on set was like and how, you know, what made people happy and what made people sad. You know, what was frustrating, what went easy, and as a kid, you know, you forget, and sometimes people underestimate what a kid pays attention to. When I was a kid, I paid attention to a lot. And that experience in a lot of ways shaped who I wanted to be.”

Graham said she remained friends with Lohan for a little while after the film wrapped because they had to do reshoots.

“She introduced me to Hansen’s ‘MMMBop’ … and also … Sugar Ray,” she recalls. “She introduced me to a whole new age of music and I went down that rabbit hole for a minute. … I definitely remember her introducing me to some really cute pop.”

Kat Graham Recalls What Lindsay Lohan Taught Her on Set of ‘The Parent Trap’ (Exclusive)

Graham’s latest project is the holiday film Operation Christmas Drop. Graham plays congressional aide Erica in the rom-com, who skips her family’s Christmas to travel at the request of her boss. At a beachside Air Force base, she clashes with Capt. Andrew Jantz (Alexander Ludwig), who knows her assignment is finding reasons to defund the facility. Graham told ET that she definitely relates to her character, and that the movie is especially appropriate for the times.

“She’s much more like me so I had a lot of fun,” she shares. “Also, you know, this is a different film because it’s not a snowy Christmas family, it’s not about the family, it’s about people who are away for the holidays. And for this year, especially, where things didn’t really turn out how we thought they would, it really brings it home for a lot of us because a lot of us can’t go home for the holidays because they don’t feel comfortable traveling, or people have to work during the holidays because they didn’t think they’d have this kind of income that they had last year.”

“So, there’s so many different things that have come up this year that I feel like this movie is really resonating with people in that way, which is great,” she adds.

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