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I certainly did not expect to be spending my Wednesday afternoon on Zoom with Kat Graham, but life often throws unexpected yet welcome surprises at us when we need it the most. As soon as I saw Kat’s thousand-watt smile, I knew I was going to be transfixed on her every word for the next half-an-hour or so, and just as I predicted, I absolutely was.

Kat Graham is best known for her role as Bonnie Bennett in the hit television series, The Vampire Diaries. What many of us didn’t know during the show’s run was the difficulties Kat faced behind the scenes. She spoke out about treatment from the showrunners after the show aired its last season. In one interview, she said that she was forced to wear wigs rather than her natural hair. Kat has been an advocate for women of color in Hollywood for years, and she has shown immense courage in her work to fight against racism in the industry. Kat has become an inspiration to young women all over the world, which is why I was delighted to be a part of a group of Her Campus members who Kat spoke to about women’s health and female empowerment.

One of the things that Kat said which resonated a lot with me was the idea of taking a moment to focus on yourself. Although this sounds like such a simple thing, we all need a reminder once in a while to practice self-care. In Kat’s case, reminding herself to take her birth control is her form of focusing on herself because she is able to take her health and her body into her own hands. “I’m giving myself permission to stop,” Kat explained over Zoom. Young women often push aside these important things because it can feel pointless or tedious, but that relieved feeling that you did something good for yourself can get you through your day.

Kat was adamant that each and every one of us recognized our power. “Put yourself first, girls,” she declared. When Kat Graham tells me to put myself first, I have no choice but to listen. She went on to talk about the pressure that social media inflicts on our society. Social media can tear down our self-esteem and make us feel lesser than we are, but the key to getting through the fog of social media is to figure out who we are. Once we begin to respect who we are and what we bring to the world, we will notice a shift in our lives, according to Kat.

Kat gave me advice that will last a lifetime. She truly is a wonderful human being who has a passion for advocacy and empowerment. Along with her successful acting career, Kat is releasing an EP later this year. With such a busy schedule, it is a miracle Kat found the time to talk to us, but nevertheless I am grateful for her words of wisdom.

Saanya Advani is a senior at Michigan State University studying Criminal Justice with a minor in Women's and Gender Studies. Her passions include music, a good bowl of noodles, and protesting unjust institutional systems.
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