Kat Graham (Addicted)

Kat Graham: The Interview (Addicted)

Shakefire spoke with actor Kat Graham who stars as Diamond in the upcoming exotic romance drama Addicted alongside fellow actors Sharon Leal and William Levy. Most known for her work on the hit television series The Vampire DIaries, Kat has gained quite the following over the years. In our interview, Kat discusses branching out into different roles and what working on Addicted means for her.


Shakefire (SF): How exciting was it to play in this type of film that is not really common in the urban subset?

Kat Graham (KG): I think you just answered your own question. It’s such a rarity to have this type of film in an urban market. That’s what makes it so exciting. You’re seeing it pop up a lot with the likes of No Good Deed and all these incredible films that are coming out where you get to see African-Americans portrayed in a different way and you get to see different aspects of that role and that life. I think it’s good for the mass media to see African-Americans portrayed in different ways and us as African-American actors to take on different roles. I hope that now people can start to see that every woman and man are multi-dimensional. We go through the same things that other households go through. We don’t have to have perfect homes and sometimes we don’t. There are relationships and breakups. We really have had to fight to get away from a lot of stigmas.

SF: What attracted you to this role?

KG: The legwarmers [laughs]. Uh, no. Bille Woodruff is a great friend and I really believe in everything he does. I believe he has reasoning for everything that he does. Besides the fact that it isn’t a typical film, I wanted to do something a little different; I wanted to be a part of something that was different, something that would push the needle. That’s really it. I don’t get to do a lot of projects period because of Vampire Diaries so I wanted to make sure that the project that I did next would connect me to the African-American community because I’m a Black girl, I’m a Liberian girl, and I want to be able to be a part of that. I wanted to be a part of a film that people look like me and people that look like me would go see a film like this. It’s important to be a part of that community and to raise that community as an African-American woman.

SF: How would you describe your character Diamond?

KG: I did some work with Ivana Chubbuck, who is my coach. Tasha Smith actually works with her, too. We wanted to create something that wasn’t just the regular neighbor girl. Anyone can play that and I had the opportunity to do something a little different with already a character that’s a little different. I ended up creating some really weird and cool things.

SF: What are your thoughts on actual sex addiction?

KG: It’s totally real. I think there are people all over the world and there might be some who are reading this interview that need to know they have support if they need it and to take yourself seriously, with any addiction whether it’s sexual or otherwise. The disease is real and you should never make light of it. I think it’s good to know yourself too. This film is all about making choices and making decisions based on who you are, and it’s important to know who you are and whether that’s you know you’re addicted to something or it’s your happily married partner. Either way you have to start by knowing yourself.

SF: Talk about filming in Atlanta. That played a big role in the film and with Vampire Diaries you’ve no doubt spent a lot of time in the city.

KG: I really love the mayor here. I love Kasim Reed. I think he’s been so supportive. I met him I think the first year I came out here and he was at an Atlanta event and you could see that he was all about the city growing and empowering the people and empowering the state. It was really great to see that from six years ago to now and see how much more has come into Atlanta. It’s so great to film here because you don’t have the paparazzi. You don’t have the Hollywood bs. You don’t have the Hollywood attitudes. People are family people. They don’t care about what you do for a living or if you’re famous or not. If you’re a good person, you’re cool in Atlanta. That’s the rule. I’ve taken that back with me to California and into my life. I don’t know how anyone of us would have been if we had blown up and been in California and everyone making a stink over you like you’re some hotshot when the reality is we’re working actors. You’re replaceable. You have to bust your butt. You have to create good work. Especially for me, being African-American, and being able to see all the entrepreneurship that is happening, to see all these successful African-American people, which is why Addicted is also so great because it focuses on Zoe who has her own art agency and she’s a successful Black woman. You don’t see that in a lot of major motion pictures, but that exists in Atlanta. That’s common. And I love being around that. That is really awesome and has empowered me for being here for the past six years. I get to see that everywhere I go. I see successful African-American agencies and people and that’s just the norm in Atlanta.

SF: Have you read Zane’s books at all?

KG: I hadn’t until Addicted. I knew about. She’s a very sweet, reserved woman. Then you see this and you’re like, “Excuse me!? Who are you?” I love woman like that. Julie Plec, who wrote Vampire Diaries, is similar to that. I feel that those kind of women you got to look at and be like, “I know you’re capable of something because you’re so sweet and reserved.” They come out with these incredible ideas and projects and this kind of limitless, especially women. Women are placed on this independent thinking, fully in control place. I really like her and would love to be a part of what she does in the future, and I’ll be keeping my eye on what’s next for her. Even if it’s just another book I want to read it.

SF: What attracts you to these unique roles?

KG: With doing roles, when you start off as an actor you don’t get a lot of, not that you don’t get a lot of choices, but if all you do is act, you’re probably broke in the beginning. You’re just auditioning; it’s a hustle. You’re not like, “I’m not going to do that because I’m too good.” No, that’s how you put food on the table. You’re an artist. For me, I was so broke when I booked Vampire Diaries. I had $0.86 to my name. Now I have a choice to, not that I can be that picky, but I feel that I have a responsibility now that so many people know me and follow my work, that I have to be careful about what I play and what projects I do next and who I work with so I am a bit more particular about stuff. At this point I want to do films that break the mold. That’s what I’m interested in. I’ve seen so much of the mold and I see people still trying to shove African-Americans in that mold or minorities, minorities overall in that mold. It breaks my heart because us as human beings should be so beyond that at this point. It’s up to us as artists to hold a responsibility for our community, for each other, to create roles that elevate the consciousness of the world.

SF: How is it being a Black woman in Hollywood, especially in a time right now where it looks like Black actresses are in a good place?

KG: It’s tough. It’s exciting when you see things like Scandal and Viola Davis and my stuff and that. I love that there are films like Addicted and even James Brown’s Get Up and we were talking about No Good Deed. That stuff is coming out and it’s great, but when I’m not happily surprised like, “Oh wow, this came out and there’s not a token person in the side of the poster!” When I can look at a poster and not be excited that that’s not happening then it won’t be so hard. Its really up to us as creators, you guys as writers, you guys as the media. You guys have a responsibility to ensure and protect the artist and the artist protect the people like you guys that come out with this. It’s a social responsibility. Like I said, there are great roles out there, but I also turn down about 90% of the things I’m getting offered because they’re not elevating of a woman period, let alone an African-American woman. If anything, if you put certain people of minority in a place of power sometimes it attracts even more racism and even more discrimination. I see a lot of it in politics. I see a lot of it everywhere. It sucks and eventually it will fade away, but we have to continuously hold ourselves to a higher standard and we have to do good work as artists and good work as reporters and as people that are connecting the public to the artist.

SF: Ultimately, what do you want people to take away from your role in the film?

KG: I would like people to walk away knowing that the only person that can judge you is God and to not put pressure on yourself to have to be perfect. Be who you are, without apologies.


Addicted opens in theaters on Friday, October 10, 2014.

Matt Rodriguez
Interview by Matt Rodriguez
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