Kat Graham talks Janet Jackson, charity, and her fierce new video co-star





When Zap2it caught up with "The Vampire Diaries" star Katerina Graham on set in Atlanta, she was one hundred percent committed to her character, Bonnie -- but when the season wraps, she's got some big plans. "Obviously, when I'm here I'm focused on the show," she says. "I kind of have to wait until I get back into that environment in LA to finish everything up."

By "everything," she's referring to her music. After her teaser single "Sassy" and a few covers, including "Cold Hearted Snake" by Paula Abdul and "I'm Only Happy When It Rains" by Garbage, Kat plans to release an album of original material this fall.

For her last cover song and video, Kat made the bold choice to pay homage to one of her heroes, Janet Jackson, with a mash-up of "Love Will Never Do (Without You)" and "Escapade."

"I just wanted to do something for Janet," Kat tells us. "She's obviously such a huge inspiration to me that I wanted to do something for her, and tribute her, and show the world the really basic [part] of being an artist. You don't need all this fancy stuff -- you should just be able to get in a room and sing and dance and be good. Janet was always someone who could just do that, she didn't need all that fancy stuff."

The video for "Love Will Never Do Without an Escapade" is a stripped-down, no-frills dance video choreographed by LaurieAnn Gibson and directed by "Honey 2's" Bille Woodruff. They rented a warehouse in downtown LA and spent two weeks in grueling, but fun dance rehearsals. "I've known Laurieann since I was a little girl, and she's always been so nice to me," Kat says. "Even a few years ago I think she always kind of saw a little bit of me in her. We both kind of just go for it, we don't care what people think, and we just do what we want. She's always been amazing and I've always looked up to her."

Graham's next video, for "I Want It All," the first single from her album, is set to be a bit more elaborate... with some very fierce co-stars.

"We shot in on a tiger reserve which was really sweet, and the tigers were so nice," Graham says.

Yes, she just called tigers sweet. That's typical of Kat -- she finds comfort in situations that might set other people on edge. "It was so relaxed, just lying down with me," she says. "I'm so big on animal rights so I wanted to do something that the tiger was comfortable with. It was all about the tiger. 'Does the tiger have enough to eat? Give that tiger extra steak!' The tiger had a trailer. The tiger had air conditioning; I was in my latex suit sweating in the corner. I make sure all the animals on anything I shoot are just really, overwhelmingly taken care of."

In addition to working on her album, Kat will spend her summer hiatus promoting "Honey 2" -- check out the trailer here -- and working on an array of charitable endeavors, beginning with a trip to South Sudan.

"I'm going with this organization called Angels of East Africa," she says. "My friend Sam has an orphanage in South Sudan so I'm going to go there for about a week and hang out with the kids, then travel a little bit west and go visit some Ugandan refugee rehabilitated soldiers."

She's also supporting The Water Project and encouraging fans to help fund a well that will provide clean water to people who have previously gone without. She's just over halfway to her goal of $5,000, so if you have the means and you're interested in donating or learning more about the project, click here.

When her break is up, we're all hoping that Miss Graham will return for Season 3 of "The Vampire Diaries," despite the fact that her character has a bit of a death wish at the moment. In the meantime, she's delighting in torturing us with anticipation. Make sure to watch our video interview above below for more from Kat about her other projects, and don't miss the Janet Jackson homage below.