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The Vampire Diaries -- "Yellow Ledbetter"
Credit: Guy D'Alema/The CW
Best Starting Point: ''Growing Pains'' (401) — A lot changed in last season's lead-up. It's probably best not to miss this season opener, which shows…

With one season left in The Vampire Diaries’ run, we decided it was time to start collecting everyone’s final diary entries. Every week during the final season, EW is asking those involved with the show to look back on one of their favorite moments from the series. So grab your tissues and join us on this trip down a vampire-filled memory lane.

This week, Kat Graham reflects on eight seasons playing Bonnie Bennett…

I always knew the show was going to work even from the pilot, because I had shot about five pilots and none of them had ever gone through. And there was way too much money that was put into this pilot. It was this unparalleled support that I hadn’t seen from a network. They were going to make this work; they really believed in it. So I always believed it was going to work. I never thought I’d make it past the pilot, but that’s a whole other story.

There are moments where I felt bizarre parallels between the character and my own journey. I learned a lot about myself playing her. The emotional scenes are never easy. The first scene that jolted me was the Grams death scene in season 1. Unfortunately, I had buried my real grandmother the day before. It was very traumatic. And usually any major loss on the show, I had dealt with something similar in my own personal life, sans the supernatural aspect of it.

I had some pretty big losses over the last two to three years. Being able to play a character like that through some of my darkest hours, it was my saving grace.

I also really love the stuff with Ian when we were in that prison world together. I was really proud of the work we did together during that time. In the Silas days, I had some really cool moments with Elena, who was actually Katherine in the moment. Or when Alaric was actually Klaus. There’s so many great scenes.

RELATED VIDEO: Get an Exclusive First Look at The Vampire Diaries Series Finale

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.

Overall, I am appreciative of the opportunity that I got to play different levels and different emotions for this character. I’m grateful for the platform I got.

–As told to Samantha Highfill

The Vampire Diaries airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.

Episode Recaps

Best Starting Point: ''Growing Pains'' (401) — A lot changed in last season's lead-up. It's probably best not to miss this season opener, which shows…
The Vampire Diaries

Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, and Paul Wesley star in the CW’s romance-infused vampire soap opera.

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