“When I signed on to the show, I didn’t know whether I’d be playing both girls,” said the 22-year-old who first caught our eye as teen-mom-turned-model Mia on “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” “And while it’s been cool, it’s also exhausting because it’s double the work. You invest so much of your heart and soul and energy into making even one character. It’s like doing two movies at once.” Born in Sofia, Bulgaria, and raised in Toronto, Nina equates juggling her two characters—good girl Elena and evil vampiress Katherine—with her overloaded schedule while attending a competitive performing arts high school. “I wanted to be the jock, and I wanted to be a dancer and actress,” she said. “I was also a gymnast and very academically driven. I always had a lot on my plate and was really overwhelmed. Not much has changed—I’m constantly trying to one-up myself and raising the stakes.”
Posing poolside for the mag’s photo spread, Nina is the epitome of Old Hollywood glamour. So how does she maintain her good looks after late-night shoots and early morning calls? “I try to eat healthy,” she explained. “I like to drink my kombucha, I like smoothies, and I genuinely love oatmeal because it reminds me of childhood.” But fret not Crushers, for Nina is in fact human; the girl can’t resist a sugar craving or two. “But having chocolate or cake makes me happy too.”
Another thing that makes Nina happy? “The Vampire Diaries”’ Atlanta location, which has allowed her to maintain a relatively low-key lifestyle, and the attention she receives when visiting paparazzi hubs like L.A. or New York still seems overwhelming. “I just feel like a normal girl, and the whole concept is very odd to me. But other people, like Ian, have had that experience before, so they’re like, ’Yeah, this is what happens; there’s nothing you can do about it.'”
Yep, that Ian would be Ian Somerhalder, Nina’s steamy costar who plays steamy vampire Damon. Over the two years the pair have worked together, they’ve been the subjects of multiple romance rumors, deriving from flirty Twitter messages here and there, to above all, a public kiss in the airport. “We expected the rumors,” she said, acknowledging “TVD”’s heavy media attention and rabid fan base. “Like, if I wasn’t dating Ian, I’d be dating Paul.” (Gee, such a hard life! I almost feel bad for her.) But when pressed on the issue of whether she’d be up for dating a costar (Seriously, Ian Somerhalder or Paul Wesley? It’s a tough choice!), Nina kept things coy. “A lot of people who work together end up dating, so it wouldn’t be unusual, but I’ve never dated anyone I’ve worked with,” she explained.
What do you think of Nina’s April Teen Vogue cover? Would you choose Ian over Paul? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter!