New book from NYT bestselling author Lewis Howes is now available!

New book from NYT bestselling author Lewis Howes is now available!

Summit of Greatness 2024 | September 13-14 | Los Angeles, CA


Nina Dobrev

The Balance of Acting, Advocacy, and Using Your Voice

“Other people won’t make me happy, it has to be from within me.”

One of the things that even I struggle with is being complacent. It’s easy for all of us to feel comfortable with where we are in life and settle for what we have.

In fact, it can be scary to try to push things even further.

Breaking out of that comfort zone and continuing to grow is the difference between being average and being great.

Anytime you feel comfortable, that means you’re not challenging yourself and it’s time to make a shift. Maybe you need a new job or just to find ways to push yourself further.

On this episode of The School of Greatness, we are joined by an inspirational and amazing actress, Nina Dobrev. She’s spent her whole life pushing the boundaries and keeps challenging herself any chance she can.

“Be nice to all the people on your way up, because you’ll be seeing them on your way down.”  

You probably know Nina from the hit show The Vampire Diaries. Nina was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. She moved to Canada at the age of two and grew up in Toronto, Ontario ever since. From a very young age, she showed great enthusiasm and talent for the arts: dance, gymnastics, theatre, music, visual arts, and acting!

Modeling jobs led to commercials, which then turned into film auditions. Shortly after, she booked roles in the feature films Fugitive Pieces, Away from Her and the popular television series, Degrassi: The Next Generation.

We’ve become good friends over the past couple of years, and I’m constantly impressed by how Nina decides to push herself. Through all of her work, acting is her passion, and she sees it as an adventure that has just begun; she believes that the journey and the characters we create along the way will help us understand ourselves.

Discover all of that and much more, on Episode 590.

“You have to be your own advocate.”  

Some Questions I Ask:

  • Why did you get behind the #TimesUp movement? (8:20)
  • What can people do to stop the abuse? (12:48)
  • Did you have a hunger to work hard at an early age? (22:40)
  • Do you feel like you were good to everyone on your way up? (26:55)
  • What is the biggest insecurity you’ve overcome in your ‘20s? (28:10)
  • Did you see yourself being a star? (30:57)
  • When Vampire Diaries happened did you expect it to be a success? (33:21)
  • Did you see yourself doing things bigger than the show, or were you focused on the role? (36:20)
  • Did you struggle to find new characters to audition for? (40:20)
  • What do you enjoy more, being a character telling the stories or directing the stories? (44:38)
  • What’s a story you want to tell that hasn’t been told? (46:40)
  • What do you think is holding you back from being the woman you want to be? (47:35)
  • What’s the thing you are most proud of that most people don’t know about you? (52:30)

In this episode, you will learn:

  • About the abuse happening in Hollywood (10:55)
  • What it was like moving from Bulgaria to Canada (16:10)
  • The most important lesson her parents taught her (23:51)
  • Insecurities she had growing up (27:15)
  • Who taught her the most about abundance in her life (29:30)
  • Why she loves creating characters (32:45)
  • How she felt when Vampire Diaries took off (34:30)
  • What it was like choosing to leave a hit show (38:20)
  • What she’s been writing (42:00)
  • What she wants to do next (46:15)
  • What it is about Audrey Hepburn that people love (47:10)
  • The greatest piece of advice she ever received (50:04)
  • A question she wishes more people would ask (55:44)
  • Plus much more…

Connect with
Nina Dobrev

Transcript of this Episode

Lewis Howes:              This is episode number 590 with Nina Dobrev.

Welcome to The School of Greatness. My name is Lewis Howes, former pro-athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur and each week we bring you an inspiring person or message to help you discover how to unlock your inner greatness. Thanks for spending some time with me today. Now, let the class begin.

John Wooden once said that, “Talent is God-given, be humble. Fame is man-given, be grateful. Conceit is self-given, be careful.”

I’m so excited that you’re joining us today on this podcast. If you’re new to the show, then welcome. As every week we bring you inspiring individuals, ideas, topics and tools to help you improve your life and take your dreams to another level. You matter, and so do your dreams matter. So, welcome to this episode.

We’ve got Nina on, who is so inspiring, what she’s done in her career, and the topics we cover today are, why it’s so important to celebrate the little successes along the way, even when you’re dreaming big. Also, how to change careers when you’ve already been successful in a specific role or industry and when someone might have you pigeon-holed with a specific identity, how to transform that the next career.

Also, how to deal with fame when it hits you all at once. What it was like for Nina’s family to leave communist Bulgaria when she was a toddler, and how they overcame that. And also, what the Time’s Up Movement is all about, and what you can do to support it. Super pumped about this! Before we dive in, got to give a shout out to the Fan of the Week.

Again, every week we give a shout out to someone who leaves a review over on iTunes. So if you want to get shouted out on the podcast, just leave us a review. You can do it on your podcast app as well, on your iPhone, or over on iTunes and just search The School of Greatness.

This is from Vena B, who says, “My husband turned me on to Lewis’ podcast just a few weeks ago, and to say we are both a bit addicted to it, would be an understatement. Not only has it made our morning commutes so much richer, but we have also incorporated some of the daily rituals into our routines. And it has made such a huge difference in our productivity. I love, love, loved the interview with Brene Brown, Melissa Hartwig, and Danica Patrick. Keep up the good work Lewis.”

So Vena B, thank you so much to you and your husband for listening and incorporating some of this and I hope you enjoy this special interview with Nina as well. And if you guys want a chance to be shouted out as a Fan of the Week, all you got to do is leave a review and our producer picks one, every single week to be announced on the podcast. Go check it out on iTunes and leave a review right there.

And before we dive in, I want to give a shout out to our sponsors, and that’s Shopify. If you’ve ever been thinking about selling a product online, or you’re an entrepreneur that wants to launch a product, or you need a better system for your current online store, you know, I currently sell multiple products online, both physical goods and digital ones and I love the checkout experience that Shopify creates for my customers.

They are really at the top of their game with the front-end and back-end design of their online shopping platform. I recommend Shopify, because selling online has never been easier, faster, or more scalable. What is rewarding about being an entrepreneur is the freedom that it gives, right? The ability to be your own boss, to travel and to do more. But what can be draining is picking up all the tools to get your business up and running.

So, do yourself a favour and use Shopify to get your whole store set up in one place and get it thriving. I’ve created multiple online businesses and I can tell you from my experience, that choosing the right tools, like Shopify, makes a massive difference in those businesses’ successes. If I was going to start all over from scratch, this is one of the areas I would make sure to invest in. So, if you’re thinking about your big idea and launching something online, then visit and get started on it with a free 30-day trial. Again, check out for a free 30-day trial, today.

And also a big thank you to Bench. Now, I just had a conversation with a dancer friend of mine who is launching his own online business and he also has a successful dance choreography business and also classes where hundreds of students come every single day, to learn from him. And one of the biggest challenges he said was bookkeeping.

And I said, you got to check out Bench, it’s the online bookkeeping service for your business. They give you a team of bookkeepers, to do your books, and simple, elegant software to track your financial results. Every month, your Bench Bookkeeping Team turns your data into tax-ready financial statements. You can monitor all your business’ financial health, download your financial statements and chat with your bookkeeping team via any time on the Bench app.

There’s thousands of entrepreneurs trusting Bench to do their books and they’re the largest bookkeeping service in North America. Today you get 20% off for the first six months of bookkeeping at Again, School of Greatness listeners, you’ve got to have your books in order if you want to optimise your business, make sure to go to for 20% off your first six months today.

Again, thank you to both our sponsors, Shopify and Bench, for helping us spread the Message of Greatness even farther in the world.

And this episode, I’m pumped, I’m super excited guys. Nina is someone I’ve been working on having come on for a while, so we finally made it happen, so without further ado, let me introduce to you the one, the only Nina Dobrev.

Welcome back, everyone, to The School of Greatness Podcast. We have the inspiring Nina Dobrev in the house. Good to see you.

Nina Dobrev:                Hi! Good to see you too!

Lewis Howes:               We brought you cupcakes, because today is your 21st birthday. Just kidding!

Nina Dobrev:                I wish it was! I really do wish it was! Although I kind of don’t wish it was. Well, I don’t really have a choice, it is what it is.

Lewis Howes:               You’ve probably grown a lot in the last… in your twenties, you’re twenty-nine. Am I allowed to say that?

Nina Dobrev:                Well, you just did. Yeah! I’m proud of my age, the person I am now is because of all the years that brought me to this moment. And thank you for this, it looks weird right now, because it fell apart, but…

Lewis Howes:               We brought you sprinkles cupcakes. Sugar-free, gluten-free options, all the free options, all the Hollywood things.

Nina Dobrev:                Which doesn’t even make sense to me. I don’t know how something can be sugar free, but regardless. Thank you.

Lewis Howes:               Exactly. You’re welcome, yes!

Nina Dobrev:                Happy Birthday to me!

Lewis Howes:               Happy Birthday to you! We were just talking before we started that it’s raining outside in L.A. and it rains like once every three years, and it just happened to be raining on your birthday and you were making remarks how you’re not sure how you feel about it, but we were saying, “Listen, look at the opportunity: this is a cleansing day.” Right? It’s cleaning out the negativity, the things in your life that are maybe not working and the things in L.A. that aren’t working, it’ll hopefully purify everything, so, I think it’s a perfect time.

Nina Dobrev:                I love that. I didn’t see it that way when I first walked in. I thought, “Rain,” I woke up, and it was raining, and I thought, “Gross,” and it was like, “Really? On this day it has to rain?” But then when you put it like that, it puts things into perspective and, yeah, I just, it does feel like clearing of old energy and bad energy and hopefully tomorrow will be a sunny day and it’ll start the next chapter.

Lewis Howes:               It will be. It will. Absolutely. And there’s a lot been happening lately in Hollywood, right? With the whole Time’s Up Movement, with the #MeToo movement, which I think there’s this cleansing that is happening, that it’s almost perfect timing with the weather and the purifying of the air. And I know you’re involved in the Time’s Up campaign or movement, correct? Why did you get behind this? What’s it about and what do you want people to know about it?

Nina Dobrev:                I was invited to one of the meetings in the early days before, it was maybe a month and a half ago. And I didn’t really know what was happening, it was a like a secret society sort of meeting thing, and it was very vague and when we got there…

Lewis Howes:               All women?

Nina Dobrev:                All women. We didn’t want to alienate men, but in the beginning we just wanted to figure out what we were and what we wanted to stand for and what message we wanted to put out and what our goals were. And so, I walked into this room and it was Natalie Portman and Reese Witherspoon and Brie Larson and America Ferrera and all these, Shondra Rhimes, and all these incredible powerhouse women, and what we took from it was that something needs to change, immediately.

It has changed, and you can see the difference. You can see with what happened with Harvey Weinstein and what’s going on with Trump right now, and that’s a whole separate other issue that I will talk about later, but it’s not okay. And women are not being treated equally and women are not getting the same fair wages that men are getting. And it’s not an anti-men movement. It’s a “let’s rise up together and treat everyone the same”.

Lewis Howes:               Right. Equality movement.

Nina Dobrev:                Yes, equality movement, and not abuse power. What I realised and what I learned in these meetings is that, of the top, I think, two hundred Fortune 500 Companies, there’s no women on any of their boards. Or if there is, it’s one woman on each board of every company. So, of course, if there’s any kind of harassment or abuse, it’s hard to go up to your bosses if none of them are women and none of them understand your position.

It’s all, it’s just not fair, so our goal is to get more women on the boards of companies that have influence, to trickle down into the other industries, because it’s not just our industry. Our industry gets the most press and the most notoriety, and you hear our voices the most, but there’s women in agriculture, there’s women in finance, there’s women housekeepers, and all kinds of different women that don’t really have the power, or didn’t feel like they had the voice.

But now, we’re all coming together and speaking up for the little guys, the medium guys, the big guys, it’s just, I was incredibly inspired by it and it’s been an awakening and I’m really excited to move forward into this new year. And I’ve already seen so much change and I want there to be so much more.

Lewis Howes:               Yeah, yeah. What have you seen in terms of the Hollywood scene with all your actor friends and actress friends, have you experienced a lot of this unfair abuse, either emotional or any type of sexual turn-ons that have been abused, as your career over the last decade in this? Or your friends, have they?

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah. Well, I’ve seen it with friends a lot, I’ve heard a lot of stories. It’s not my position to tell their stories, of course, but…

Lewis Howes:               But is it as prevalent as people are talking about it in the news? Do you see it, like, every time you’re on set, you see some type of verbal harassment?

Nina Dobrev:                Absolutely. There’s always a little bit. A lot of my friends have had personal experiences and even just in terms of on a superficial level, in terms of pay, women just don’t get paid the same as…

Lewis Howes:               Not making as much, huh?

Nina Dobrev:                No, never.

Lewis Howes:               On every, on all movies, and even if it’s a star in the female role?

Nina Dobrev:                Even if it’s the star of the movie, even if it’s the star of a TV show, she doesn’t get paid as much as a guy does, and that’s a smaller issue. I mean, the sexual harassment is a much more important issue. But, then again, it’s not. Why is there a discrepancy? Why does that happen? Why aren’t we viewed the same? It’s confusing to me.

But, Time’s Up! The clock has been ticking for a very long time, and now is the time to do something about it and change it.

Lewis Howes:               What can people do who are watching all these actors and actresses who are women of influence, who are promoting this, what can women do? Is it just post on a hashtag on social media? What’s the action steps that you guys are calling forth.

Nina Dobrev:                No. I mean, you can’t do anything unless you know about something, so this phase has been all about education and educating people that this is happening and we need to do something about it. Now that we know about it, now that it’s become such a big movement, Oprah Winfrey did the most incredible speech.

Lewis Howes:               Amazing. Unbelievable. I heard she kind of winged it. I heard she wrote that speech in the car is what I heard, but there’s no way you could do…

Nina Dobrev:                I would love to think that. That would be great!

Lewis Howes:               She’s amazing.

Nina Dobrev:                I think she should be the next president, but now that we have that awareness and Time’s Up isn’t just about the awareness. If you go on the website, there’s so many things that people can do. There’s a fund that we’ve started, on the legal side, so that we can have a bunch of lawyers, basically in-house lawyers, that are already paid, so that women in the agriculture industry, or in any industry across the board have someone they can go to that’s already paid for.

So, it’s not about… A lot of people can’t afford a lawyer, so if something happens, if the company has a lot more money and power, they won’t want to press charges, because they feel small. But in this case, this fund will pay for these lawyers, so that everyone has representation across the board in every industry.

And then there’s more things that are going to be rolling out in the next couple of months that we’re doing.

Lewis Howes:               That’s awesome! What’s the website fore end?

Nina Dobrev:       or

Lewis Howes:               We’ll make sure.

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah, let’s make sure so I don’t say the wrong thing.

Lewis Howes:               If you just Google “Time’s Up” I’m sure you’ll find it, yeah. So, how involved are you. Are you part of the founding members?

Nina Dobrev:                I think that Shondra and Natalie and Jessica Chastain and Brie and America and a few others started it initially, and then they started doing more meetings and that’s when we came in. I think I came in a month or two into it.

Lewis Howes:               That’s amazing. Awesome. Well, thanks for being in support of that and helping create more equality. It’s what we need. It’s awesome.

I’m curious to know about, you know, the more I’ve been researching, I mean, we met, I think we met about a year and a half ago, maybe two years ago, through Julianne who’s been on the show and Brookes and we were…

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah, I just noticed that she’s right behind you.

Lewis Howes:               Oh, yeah, she’s up there staring at you.

Nina Dobrev:                I love it! It makes me feel more comfortable when my best friend’s in the room.

Lewis Howes:               You’re at home, yeah. They’re incredible people. When I met you I just knew that you would be incredible as well if you’re connected with her, just because she’s got a big heart.

Nina Dobrev:                I feel like good people, or like-minded people, find each other and they attract each other, and the moment that I met Julianne, we were best friends. And you’re right, she’s positive and happy and that’s infectious. When you’re around her you want to be a better person, you want to be happy, you want to smile with her, and so it’s hard to not be, around her.

Lewis Howes:               Yeah. And we got to spend some time together, more time together at their wedding, and did some aqua yoga with my girlfriend and go to teach you some of that, and got some cool photo’s we got to link up to show people.

Nina Dobrev:                I didn’t know that I can do, I mean, I used to do gymnastics and I dance a lot, I just didn’t know that we could do all that cool stuff and you lifted me into positions and places that I didn’t know my body could go.

Lewis Howes:               It was great. You were amazing. You’re a natural.

Nina Dobrev:                Thank you. Thank you for teaching me that.

Lewis Howes:               Of course, of course, yes. I’m curious to know this, because you moved from Bulgaria, when you were two, to Canada. What part of Canada was that?

Nina Dobrev:                Toronto. It’s so funny. I’m from there and I said, “Toronto” and you’re like, “Yeah, Toron’o.” Which is the more Torontonian way to say it, but yeah.

Lewis Howes:               Well, I was just up there, so that’s what they said to me. But when you guys moved to Toron’o, you weren’t really well off early on, right? You guys were kind of like scrapping around, trying to figure things out? Immigrant mentality, right?

Nina Dobrev:                My parents left Bulgaria right around when the wall fell. It was a communist occupied country and people weren’t allowed to leave the country until that happened. In fact, when my parents got married, it’s a crazy story, they wanted to go on honeymoon and wanted to go travel somewhere else, but you were only allowed to visit other communist countries. So if you went somewhere else you had to give something to the government as insurance that you would come back. So, they gave my brother to them.

Lewis Howes:               No way!

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah! They went away for two weeks, gave my brother as insurance that they would come back, and then came back.

Lewis Howes:               What do you mean? He had to go to a home or something?

Nina Dobrev:                I don’t remember the exact details, I’ll have to ask my mom. But something like that, yeah. You have to give up your child so that…

Lewis Howes:               Or say, if you don’t come back, your child’s going to the military or something.

Nina Dobrev:                Something, yeah.

Lewis Howes:               Holy cow!

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah! And even my dad. I think you had to go to the military and if you didn’t, it was either military or jail, so my dad ended up going to jail for a little while, to avoid having to join the military, yeah. Crazy stuff like that. And it’s so nuts to me, because that’s not the world that I grew up in. I was fortunate enough to not have to experience that because I was born right when the wall fell.

I think my dad went, like I said, you had to visit other communist countries, so he booked a ticket to Cuba, which is also communist, and then the flight from Bulgaria to Cuba is so long that the plane had to refuel in Toronto or Ottowa or somewhere and he was wearing a Hawaiian shirt, trying to look like he was on vacation, because he was afraid that they’d find out that he wasn’t actually going to Cuba. And when the plane stopped to refuel, he just never got back on it.

So, underneath the Hawaiian shirt he was wearing layers upon layers of warm clothing because it was winter in Canada, and that’s how he got into Canada.

Lewis Howes:               No way! So how did you guys come over, then?

Nina Dobrev:                So then we, my mom, my brother and I, applied, I mean my mom applied for my brother and I for a visa to visit our family in Michigan, I believe, and so we flew to Michigan for a week, it was supposed to be, and then from there they drove us to the Canadian/American border, where my mom, with one suitcase, a six-year-old and a two-year-old in her arms, walked across the Niagara Falls border.

Lewis Howes:               Shut up!

Nina Dobrev:                And that’s how we got in.

Lewis Howes:               Walked across?

Nina Dobrev:                Walked across. There was a bridge that you walked across from Canada to America.

Lewis Howes:               Was there a customs checkpoint, or was it more of a sneak across.

Nina Dobrev:                No, I’m pretty sure it was a sneak across.

Lewis Howes:               Really?

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah, I’m pretty sure it was. Don’t quote me on that because I got to ask my mom. I was little. I personally don’t remember any of these things.

Lewis Howes:               Wow. That’s amazing. So did you guys have, did your parents have savings or did they have a place to stay when they got to Canada?

Nina Dobrev:                I think we shared an apartment with another family or two other families.

Lewis Howes:               Bulgarian family?

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah. And until we figured out what we were going to do. I mean, all I did was just say ga-ga and du-du and I wasn’t doing much, so I can’t take credit, but my dad worked as a pizza delivery guy, he worked at a gas station as a pumper. They took odd jobs like that at the beginning.

They had nothing, they didn’t speak the language, and then as time went on they started to learn and started to get better jobs and my mom was a paid servant and my dad learned to become a computer specialist and yeah, it’s crazy. It’s crazy to think that they had to go through so much to get here to give us the life that we had, and as a child I remember feeling ungrateful, too, for that. Because I didn’t know.

Lewis Howes:               You didn’t know what they had to give up, or what they had to sacrifice.

Nina Dobrev:                To get me to where I was, and I went to a good public school, and all my friends had all these things like beautiful new clothes and these big houses and I always felt like, and we also weren’t allowed to speak English at home. We had to speak Bulgarian at home and English at school, so that we could preserve our mother tongue, and I hated that. I thought that was so annoying and would rebel against it, and I was, like, “Why can’t I have new clothes like my friends do? Why do we have to go to Salvation Army to buy our clothes?” I just, I hated it.

But now, that I am where I am, I’m so grateful for that. I’m so grateful that I speak multiple languages.

Lewis Howes:               You speak three, right?

Nina Dobrev:                Three languages, yeah. Well, four if you count Pig Latin.

Lewis Howes:               French as well, right?

Nina Dobrev:                French, English, Bulgarian and Pig Latin.

Lewis Howes:               Amazing. And Maverick. Your dog.

Nina Dobrev:                Yes. My dog. My baby girl, literally my baby girl. Having a puppy is like having a child.

Lewis Howes:               I know. That’s why I don’t have one, because I don’t think I would get anything done in my life. I want one, and when I’m around yours, I’m like, “I could be with this dog all day long,” but then I would do nothing else with my life. I’m surprised you didn’t bring her here. I figured you’d would bring her.

Nina Dobrev:                I would have, except she’s sick right now, so I didn’t want her to be outside in the rain and risk getting a cold.

Lewis Howes:               Of course. Now, I’m curious, your parents, they went through a lot to get you here and your brother.

Nina Dobrev:                I didn’t get a chance to say that when I was younger I hated it and that was difficult, but if I didn’t have that experience of wanting things and not having things that I wanted, it made me work extra hard to achieve and get what I wanted to have in my life. And I feel like a lot of people don’t understand that now.

We have so many things at our disposal, running water is so easy to just get, and we take that for granted. And I went to Kenya, to build a school and a well and that’s when I learned that lesson. I was like, “Wow. I can’t believe that we have so many things around us and so many people don’t.” And so many people can get in their cars and go from A to B and we have so much, and everyone’s so lucky and that’s a great thing, but it’s also, sometimes it can be a disadvantage for some people, in my opinion. The struggle is what makes you thrive, for success, in my opinion.

Lewis Howes:               So, did you have this hunger to work hard at an early age, then, because you wanted nicer clothes?

Nina Dobrev:                I had to get a job to buy myself clothes, I had to buy my own first car, and I’m definitely going to make my kids do the same thing, even though I have the ability to provide that for them, I think it’s important for them to work for it. I had to do chores growing up, my parents couldn’t afford to put me in a lot of dance classes and things like that, but they would throw me into the community ones and it created this…

Lewis Howes:               The free ones, yeah.

Nina Dobrev:                The free ones, yeah. And then eventually, when I started acting, well, it started with modelling and then it turned into acting, they didn’t approve of it, they didn’t have the money to support it, so with my jobs I would pay for the head shots and I would go take classes and take four different buses and a subway to get downtown from the suburbs in Toronto where I lived, to get to the college, I wanted it. And if I didn’t actually put in the work for it, I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am and it really had to be from within.

Lewis Howes:               What was the greatest lesson you think both your mom and dad taught you then?

Nina Dobrev:                My dad was very strict, growing up. Again, all the things that I didn’t appreciate at the time, that I hated, now I appreciate. They made me read a book every single week, and I had to put, outside of school, I would have to read a book for them and write a report for them. And then if I had done that I was allowed to go on auditions the following week. If I hadn’t finished doing that, then I wasn’t allowed to go.

They basically didn’t think that the acting thing was real, and serious. And they didn’t want me to stop studying and trying to become, to have a back-up, basically.

Lewis Howes:               They wanted to see how bad you wanted it. And you were willing to prove that to them.

Nina Dobrev:                Exactly. They made me work for it. And the same thing with college. I had to go to college. If I didn’t go to college, I couldn’t continue acting.

Lewis Howes:               And you were in a hit show during college, right?

Nina Dobrev:                I was in Degrassi, yeah. I mean, it was a hit show in Canada.

Lewis Howes:               So you were a working actor at that point.

Nina Dobrev:                But toward the end. So I had a full trimester before. I was working in the last two years, but nothing, it didn’t come out until after I was…

Lewis Howes:               Got it. So you were mostly doing smaller jobs, or just auditioning during that time?

Nina Dobrev:                Yes. Exactly.

Lewis Howes:               And did you go to school in Toronto then?

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah.

Lewis Howes:               University of Toronto?

Nina Dobrev:                No, I went to Ryerson University. I didn’t finish. After a while I ended up getting so much work and my studying started to suffer and then my acting started to suffer. I couldn’t really do both, but at that point I had proven that I was serious about it and that it was going well and I was able to provide for myself. And I think that’s what they were worried about the most.

Lewis Howes:               Once the checks started coming in, they were like, “Okay, go do this.”

Nina Dobrev:                At first I deferred, and it was like, “I’ll go back next semester,” and then I kept working, and then it was like, “Hey, next year,” and then next year, and it’s been ten now, so I don’t know that I’ll go back, or if I do, maybe down the line.

Lewis Howes:               For fun, yeah. What about your mom’s greatest lesson she taught you?

Nina Dobrev:                Mom’s greatest lesson. Love. I mean, she is such a loving, caring person, and she’s always been there for me. My dad wasn’t as supportive, my mom was more supportive in the whole work/acting thing, but I think it’s so important to be surrounded by love as a child and have that feeling. I thought that was normal, and then, as I grew up, I saw other friends and people around me that didn’t have that support system. And she taught me how to be the person I am and hopefully continue to inspire that love and kindness to other people.

In fact, my favourite, I don’t know if it’s her quote, or she heard it from someone else, but she told me this quote, that was, “Be nice to all the people on your way up, because you’ll be seeing them on your way down.” So if that shows you what kind of person my mom is. She’s tough, but real, and she’s like, “Be good to everyone, because everyone around you, they help you get to that next phase of your life.”

Lewis Howes:               Do you feel like you were good to everyone on your way up to where you are?

Nina Dobrev:                I tried. I definitely have tried. I mean, I’m human, I’m sure I’ve made a lot of mistakes over my life and my career and there’s probably people that I’ve hurt, but never intentionally, never with malice, hopefully not.

Lewis Howes:               I’m sure you’ve been great. Did you ever have any big insecurities growing up?

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah, of course! I’m human, I’m a girl. I probably had a million insecurities. I have weird feet. At one point I cut my hair really short, like a boy, like your length essentially, yeah, because my mom told me that she did it when she was younger and suddenly she realised who her real friends were because a bunch of people thought she didn’t look the same and thought she was weird, and her true friends, the ones that stuck with her at that point stayed with her for life.

And I thought that was really cool, so I did it and it was very true, I got people who called me a boy, they said I was ugly, I had to wear dresses so that people would know that I was a girl, and it was tough, but it also hardened me, in a good way. And it made me realise that.

Lewis Howes:               What, would you say, is the biggest insecurity you’ve overcome over the last decade? In your twenties. Maybe that you were holding on to as a teen, going into your twenties and now you’ve realised it’s not necessary to hold onto any more.

Nina Dobrev:                Caring, kind of, but not in the way that you probably think. I mean, I care a lot, but I also, caring about the right things and I say this with confidence, that every single person, when they’re in their teens and their early twenties, they care so much about other people and how they’re perceived and what impression they make and I wanted to be perfect, I wanted to be good at everything, and be a good student and be prettier and skinnier and successful and all these things.

And I cared about what people said about me and how they felt about me and as I get older I just realise that other people won’t make me happy. It has to be from within me, and I need to keep doing whatever makes me happy, and whoever responds to that, great. Whoever doesn’t respond to that, it’s fine too. But the less I care about other people’s opinions, the better I feel about myself and the more I do things that make me happy.

Lewis Howes:               Hmm! Amen to that! I like that one. I think I read somewhere that you have watched the movie, The Secret.

Nina Dobrev:                No, I haven’t. I’ve read the book.

Lewis Howes:               Okay, read the book.

Nina Dobrev:                Yes.

Lewis Howes:               Who or what has taught you the most about living an abundant life? Was it that book, or has it been something else that you’ve learned along the way about abundance in your life?

Nina Dobrev:                That book definitely inspired me when I read it. I was in high school when I read it and it’s true. I mean, if you put your mind to something, it’s such a powerful thing, that you can really achieve anything you want. And if you put that energy out there, whatever energy you put out there usually comes back to you, because I believe so much in energy work and just being around people that are positive and cutting out people that are not positive in your life.

And once I decided, I read the book and realised that I’d sort of been living like that anyway, that whole fiery determined, like, “I don’t have this, so how do I get it? By doing x, y and z.” So, why not just do x, y and z. And I just already had that mentality, but once I saw it in writing and read the book, I was like, “Wow! This is what I do, and it’s working, so just keep doing it. Just figure it out and keep following your dreams and keep not taking no for an answer.”

My closest friends and my mom and my closest confidants always say that I’m very determined and very stubborn and pushy and that it could be a good thing and it could be a bad thing. Like, it definitely gets me when I want and need and I’m very vocal about things, and blunt, but you sort of have to be that way. You have to be your own agent, your own advocate, you have to go for what you want in life.

Lewis Howes:               Absolutely. And did you always see yourself being a star on shows and movies and things like that? When you were a teenager or what was the dream for you?

Nina Dobrev:                No, not at all. I mean, I wasn’t one of those kids that knew I wanted to be an actor, I don’t think. I just sort of wanted to keep doing things that were fun, basically. I think that was fun. And, like I said earlier, my parents were just throwing me into, probably because I had too much energy and they didn’t know what to do with me, they would just throw me into all these community classes.

They tried me out with ballet and tap and jazz and all these things, and I knew that I loved to perform and loved to dance and do things with my body, and I was a gymnast for a while, I don’t think it was until I went to a performing arts high school where I did theatre and dance more seriously, that’s when I really fell in love with acting.

But even before that. Actually, no, even before that. My mom tells me this story about when we were in some train in Europe or something and she’d fallen asleep on the train, I think, and when she woke up, I wasn’t next to her any more. So she walked down to the other side of the train and saw me and I was talking to a stranger, and when she got to him she realised that I’d told him a different name, I had an English accent and I had made up this whole back story and I was lying to him, basically. And I loved doing that.

I loved going places and talking to strangers and making up fake stories and just sort of seeing if they’ll believe me and how far I could take it before they realised that it wasn’t true. And so I guess that’s subconsciously before I even knew that I wanted to be an actor, that I wanted to be an actor. I was creating characters.

Lewis Howes:               Why do you love that, creating characters?

Nina Dobrev:                I love being other people, and trying to figure out their mindset and what makes them tick and why they do things and their back story, and just creating a back story and becoming a different person is so interesting to me. And that’s why, even though, like I told you, that I had to go to college, that was one of the requirements from my parents. That’s why I took Psychology and Sociology, because I wanted to understand people and how they tick, better.

Lewis Howes:               Wow. When the show happened, Vampire Diaries, when that happened, was that something that you were expecting? Or was it more like, “Wow, this unexpectedly happened and I’m really shocked and surprised.”?

Nina Dobrev:                The success of it?

Lewis Howes:               Yeah, or getting the role and then the success of it. I’ve actually never watched it, but I remember hearing…

Nina Dobrev:                What?! How dare you?! I’m leaving right now! This is unacceptable! No… You’re not exactly the demographic!

Lewis Howes:               Yeah, exactly! I remember hearing about everyone raving about this big show, and so when you landed it, did you know it was going to be this big hit?

Nina Dobrev:                At the time it was the pilot to get. Twilight had just come out. We probably wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Twilight. It was a massive success, but at the same time, we also didn’t know if it would really take off, because when you have something like Twilight, you’re like, “Wait, is it over saturated?” True Blood was out on the air as well.

Lewis Howes:               And that was a big hit too, right?

Nina Dobrev:                That was a huge hit, so we were the third one, I think, in line. So, it was like, “Is there too much vampire stuff? Is it going to bomb?” We didn’t want it to, we obviously wanted it to do well, but we didn’t know. And, so, it was a gamble in many ways.

Lewis Howes:               Wow. And so, when it started to take off what was it like for you, getting all the recognition and the acknowledgements and opportunities? Did you feel like you were ready for that?

Nina Dobrev:                It was a blessing in disguise, I think, because we filmed in Atlanta. We weren’t in L.A. and we’d get invited to all these big award shows and parties and things and we were filming, we were working, we were in another state and I remember being bummed that I couldn’t go to this or that or whatever it might be, but I think it was best that I didn’t, because I got to keep being a professional and keep working and not be distracted by parties and events and things like that.

It was all about the work. And I didn’t have the opportunity, not that I want it, I definitely don’t want it, but I wasn’t going out to clubs and doing that whole thing that young actors on successful TV shows do, that end up spiralling them into a bad direction or in a bad crowd.

When I did come to L.A. I would meet people like Julianne, and I’d meet, or I would meet the good eggs and the bad eggs, but then I could recognise that, and then whenever the bad eggs would text me to hang out, I’d be like, “Oh! Sorry, I’m in Atlanta, I can’t. Maybe next time!” And then eventually they’d go away.

Lewis Howes:               So, I’ll know next time I text you, if you respond to me like that…

Nina Dobrev:                No! If I say I’m in Atlanta, then you know that. I’m not warning you. That’s not true. I really was in Atlanta for six years so even some good people that I did want to hang out with, I couldn’t.

Lewis Howes:               Exactly. I feel like the sun is coming out, it’s getting brighter in here.

Nina Dobrev:                It’s getting brighter and brighter.

Lewis Howes:               The rain is going away, it’s the cleansing. I love this transition, transformation that’s unfolding in front of our eyes.

Nina Dobrev:                It’s happening!

Lewis Howes:               When you were in the success of the show, six seasons, is that right?

Nina Dobrev:                I left after six seasons, but the show continued on for eight.

Lewis Howes:               Six seasons for you, it went on for eight. It wasn’t fulfilling your creativity any more.

Nina Dobrev:                I mean, it was great, it was just that I’d been doing it for six years. If you do anything for six years, you just want to be challenged in different ways and, like I told you earlier, I was creating different characters as a kid, and wanting to be different people all the time, so that’s what this is for me.

Lewis Howes:               You were bored with one person.

Nina Dobrev:                Actually four characters in the show. So, I was, to be in that situation, I was very lucky and I loved the characters that I played, I loved the people I worked with, but I wanted to play more characters and I wanted to tell more stories and I have ambitions to produce and write and basically take over the world. So, I knew I had to move on eventually and it was just about moving on.

Lewis Howes:               So this was a couple of years ago, right? Right before twenty-seven or at twenty-seven?

Nina Dobrev:                I think it was right before twenty-seven, yeah.

Lewis Howes:               Now, when you left the show, did you imagine that all these big movie opportunities and other TV shows were going to open up to you or what was your expectation, leaving? And what actually happened, based on your expectation?

Nina Dobrev:                My hope was to do more movies and tell stories and keep doing that and luckily it’s been going really well and the hard work has been paying off and I’ve been working a lot and it’s been great. But, of course, there was that period after I left, when you’re used to being on working every day, all day, for six years, and I took a couple of months off to myself to travel and sort of press the reset button and refresh button, but then I got antsy really quick. I was like, “I can’t do this.”

And the weird part was, I remember reading this horrible article, where they were like, “Nina Dobrev, where is she now?” I was like, “What do you mean? It’s been, like, four months!” Or no, maybe it was a year later. Yeah, it was a year later and I’d shot three movies. I’d done xXx, I think xXx, Flatliners and something else, maybe an Idie movie. Oh, yeah, Crash Pad, an Indie movie. And then the article came out and they were like, “You’ve crawled under a bush now,” and then I realised, yeah, it’s true, like for two years essentially, no one had seen me on camera, when they were used to seeing me.

Lewis Howes:               Because you were working.

Nina Dobrev:                But, yeah, I was making the movies, but they hadn’t come out yet. So they basically thought that I’d died. And now things have started to come out and I’m still shooting stuff, but yeah, it is weird to think that.

Lewis Howes:               So the opportunities are coming, it’s not like a lack of opportunities for things you want to do?

Nina Dobrev:                No, but it is hard. It is hard when people see you as one character and you’re known for something, it’s hard to change that perception.

Lewis Howes:               Yeah, I did an interview Jenna Ushkowitz, she was on Glee.

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah, I love Jenna.

Lewis Howes:               And she came on about a year and a half or two years after the show was over. And she had a similar story. It was like a huge hit, she’s working every single day, it was one of the biggest shows on TV at the time, and then she was talking about the struggle, having this identity, this character, and then being challenging to get into rooms and to get auditions, and she struggled a lot to get opportunities. But you haven’t found that to be the case?

Nina Dobrev:                No, it’s, no, it’s not true. To say that I didn’t struggle is absolutely, I’d be lying to myself and everyone around me. If I told you how many vampire movies and werewolf movies I’ve been offered, I feel like there wasn’t lack of opportunity, but it wasn’t the opportunities that I wanted. It wasn’t the path that I wanted to go in. For the huge movies and the Christopher Nolans of the world, and the Stephen Spielbergs, those are the rooms I want to get into, and those are the rooms that are hard to get into, because people know me as Elena Gilbert.

Right now, if I were to go on the street and try to make up a fake story… When I was a kid, nobody knew who I was, so I could tell a stranger that my name was Gertrude and that I was English and from the countryside and make up this big story, but it’s harder for me to do that now, when people know who you are.

Lewis Howes:               Right. They see you as one thing. It’s hard for them to see you as anything else. Even if you play the other characters well.

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah, and so it’s been a struggle in that way, but it’s been an uphill battle and bit by bit, the more work I do and the more I diversify that, go into auditions and fight for it, and it’s been working, but it took a while to get to this point. And a lot of things are born from frustration, in my opinion, so that sort of…

Lewis Howes:               Time’s Up!

Nina Dobrev:                Exactly. Like Time’s Up. And that feeling of not being able to get into a room because somebody thought I was just “the girl from that show”, frustrated me and that’s why I started producing and writing my own stuff, and creating the characters that I want to play. If somebody else can’t see me as that, or won’t give me that chance to prove that I can be this person, I just got to make it myself and show you that I can make it.

Lewis Howes:               So, are you making a lot of more short films or mini-series?

Nina Dobrev:                So, I went into Funny Or Die and I pitched them an idea I had for a sketch, because I was so frustrated with Trump and the political climate and came up with this idea about a wife coach, because, like, how does his wife stand next to him and do that interview that she did, and defend him, when he’s seen on camera and heard on camera, saying these things. How do you defend…? But somehow she does. There’s got to be a person behind the scenes that’s coaching her through how to not break and how to support him, so I was, like, what if I became this Russian wife coach that coaches all the wives to men who need their wives to stay in line?

Lewis Howes:               I watched it this morning, yeah. It’s very funny.

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah, so I made that, and I want to do more comedy, for example. And for the longest time people were like, “Oh, no she was on a serious vampire show. She’s not funny.” It’s like, “Okay, well let me show you.” Let’s create these new characters and step outside the box and be seen in a different light and as a different character, and put a wig on me, age me, make me ugly, wear no make-up, I’ll do whatever it takes! This is what I love and I want to follow it through.

Lewis Howes:               So, are you writing the whole thing? It’s your idea, so do you bring a partner in to help writing.

Nina Dobrev:                In that case, I didn’t write it, no. A team of female writers on the Funny Or Die staff, wrote that sketch. I was part of the approval… I picked JJ, who’s also a female director to direct it and I’ve been creatively involved in, from the pitch to every phase of the process, including the editing process and now it’s out.

Lewis Howes:               It came out yesterday or today?

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah, this morning. But also, that’s just one thing. I mean, I have a couple of other… we’re releasing a couple of films, that hasn’t been announced yet.

Lewis Howes:               Sure, sure. That’s great. But you’re constantly working on things you want to do if you’re not getting in the rooms, or getting the opportunities.

Nina Dobrev:                I mean, now I’m getting in the room, but it took a while, yeah. And I wrote my first movie.

Lewis Howes:               The whole thing? Complete?

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah! 120 pages.

Lewis Howes:               That you would star in essentially? It’s a movie for you? Or more producing?

Nina Dobrev:                Initially I wrote it as a vehicle for myself, yes. But I don’t know, I might want to direct it. We’ll see what happens. But I’m very proud of it.

Lewis Howes:               That’s cool. So, would you say that you enjoy more being the character, telling the story, or directing the stories and just having stories out there.

Nina Dobrev:                I think it’t just, the story is the most important thing. I mean, it doesn’t matter how… for example, that’s how I choose my roles. If you have a great director but you have a bad story, it’s not going to work. If your character’s amazing in a movie that has an okay story, and a great director, it’s also not going to work. It always come down, you have to have the trifecta of the story, director and the role.

And, to be honest with you, I always knew that I wanted to produce and direct and enter that phase of my career, but it wasn’t until the last few years, when, A, I had more time on my hands. When you’re shooting twenty-two episodes a year for an hour long for ten months, all you want to do is go to bed at night. You don’t have time to…

Lewis Howes:               Get the pizza and ice-cream and sleep.

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah. Exactly. So, now that I have more time to do that, I didn’t realise how fulfilling it is and how fun it is to be part of the behind the scenes process. Also, maybe because it’s new. Maybe because it’s something that I haven’t done until now. It just feels like the world’s my oyster, and I can create anything with anyone and it is a different kind of joy that I get.

Lewis Howes:               That’s cool. Different type of creativity, too.

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah, it’s a different muscle that I get to exercise.

Lewis Howes:               You said this, I think it was in the Harper’s Bazaar article, you said, “The things I want to do, aren’t necessarily the things that are expected of me.” I don’t know if you remember saying that.

Nina Dobrev:                I do remember saying that.

Lewis Howes:               Okay. What is the thing you want to do next?

Nina Dobrev:                I think, in that regard, we were talking about the movies and the roles. The things that come to me aren’t necessarily the things that I want to do. More often than not I turn down movies and have to go into the room and fight for the ones that I really, really want.

What do I want to do next? I want to direct next. I want to continue producing, and continue travelling.

Lewis Howes:               What’s the story that hasn’t been told, that you want to tell?

Nina Dobrev:                Ooh! My gosh! There’s so many! There’s so many stories that haven’t been told that need to be told. I mean, I think we can make a movie about Time’s Up, that’s a movement that’s happening right now. I want to do an Audrey Hepburn bio-pic. I’ve always wanted to do that.

Lewis Howes:               Is that because it’s said that you look like her or what?

Nina Dobrev:                I would be very flattered if somebody said that I look like her, she’s my idol, I love her.

Lewis Howes:               What is it about women, why do so many women love her? What is it about her that…?

Nina Dobrev:                Because she’s the epitomy of class and she’s funny, she doesn’t take herself seriously, she’s self-deprecating, she’s beautiful, she’s sophisticated, she’s timeless, there’s just something about her. She’s the woman that I aspire to be.

Lewis Howes:               Do you feel like you’re those things yet?

Nina Dobrev:                I’m trying, every day, to become that.

Lewis Howes:               What, do you think, is holding you back from being that or being the woman you want to be?

Nina Dobrev:                Oh, goodness. I think I’ve been a girl for a long time. I think, when I became twenty-seven, that’s when everything started to shift for me. That’s when I started to realise. Have you heard of this? There’s a thing of twenty-seven, that up until twenty-seven you can be the best, the top of your class, you can be an over-achiever, but as soon as you hit twenty-seven, nobody really cares any more and you’re just like everybody else, and so you going above and beyond is normal. Everybody’s going above and beyond. There’s a reality check, in a way. And time starts to become apparent.

And it really became apparent for me. I started to realise that I’ve achieved a lot but I also haven’t fulfilled my potential and there’s so many things I want to do. I want to do the things that we discussed, like producing and directing, and realise my power and realise that I can do that. And it took me so long to realise that I could be in that position. I could direct something, I could produce something, people will take me seriously.

And then the other phase, was family, honestly. I think the only thing stopping me from becoming a woman is being with my family more and making them more of a priority. I was never a person who wanted to have, I didn’t think when I was younger that I wanted to have kids or get married or any of that kind of stuff, and as I get older I know that that is something that is important to me.

I’m not there yet, before this becomes a thing and people are like, “She’s getting married and having babies!” No. I used to, the way you felt about Maverick, where you were like, “I love playing with her, but I love giving her back to you,” I used to feel the same with kids, and now I just understand that’s what the next phase is and that’s what it’s about and caring for something. I have a dog and I care for her more than I care about myself. That feeling is so much better than anything else. I think I’ve been selfish up until this point, and now it’s time to be selfless, going forward into the next chapter.

Lewis Howes:               So you think that’ll be, that’s the thing that’s holding you back from getting to the person you want to be? Is being more selfless?

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah. Maybe just being more, yeah, being more selfless. And my priorities shifting. I think they are in the process of shifting right now, into something that’s bigger than I am.

Lewis Howes:               Sure. What’s the greatest piece of advice that you’ve heard from, maybe someone that you’ve looked up to, another actor or another director, or someone in the space, the Hollywood space? Who’s had a great career, male or female, doesn’t matter.

They just gave you a piece of advice, or one sentence they said to you, maybe when you were just starting out, or yesterday and you were like, “You know what? That is a really good piece of advice.” About how to sustain your career or how to stay fulfilled through the height of it all, because you’ve had a ton of attention, millions of followers. Has anyone given you something invaluable?

Nina Dobrev:                I read an interview with Meryl Streep, where she said her best advice for actors was, “When in doubt, take Fountain.”

Lewis Howes:               The actual road?

Nina Dobrev:                The street.

Lewis Howes:               If you haven’t been down that way, you won’t understand that.

Nina Dobrev:                You won’t know what that means.

Lewis Howes:               I’ve taken Fountain many times.

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah, there’s so much traffic in L.A. that is really some great advice.

Lewis Howes:               That’s a good piece of advice. That’s funny.

Nina Dobrev:                But, no, I think that stopping to really appreciate everything that you have and not just trying to get to the next thing and planning, like, “I’ve got to do this and this and this and this, and then I’ll be happy,” because everybody does that. You think you need to have certain things to achieve greatness, and then you keep going day by day and then you miss those little things that are actually the reason we’re here.

And somebody told me that at the very beginning, to celebrate the little successes along the way and I really do think that’s important, and I do try to stop and breathe and appreciate the many amazing things that I have in my life and the great, amazing people that I have in my life and make travelling a priority so that it’s not, this world, this industry is amazing, but it’s not the only thing I live for.

I don’t sit at home and just wait for the phone to ring. I’m usually jumping off of a plane and the phone’s ringing in my pocket and then when I land, I’m like, “Oh, my agent called. Okay.” It’s so important to have other things going on and be fulfilled in other ways and that has kept me sane, ish. Because we’re all kind of crazy.

Lewis Howes:               Yeah. Sure. Exactly. What’s the thing you’re most proud of that you’ve done, that most people don’t know about you. You’ve got big hit star with all these shows and movies, and directing and done all these things, campaigns you’ve done with brands, but what’s maybe something smaller, or something you haven’t really shared, that you’re really proud of that you did, or that you do on a consistent basis?

Nina Dobrev:                We talked about when I went to Africa and built the school, that was a pretty life-changing experience. I was really proud of that, because I feel like I, we, it was a group of us. I didn’t do it on my own, we hopefully changed some lives and brought clean water to a community that didn’t have it and as much as I feel like we affected their lives, they also affected my life.

Seeing those kids who had nothing, but smiled bigger than I did, having everything here in North America, and seeing the little things that made them happy, made me appreciate, and I did that when I was 17, so, that experience of travelling and experiencing another culture and another part of the world, I can’t stress how important it is for kids to get out of their little bubble and see other worlds and other people’s lives and it really puts things into perspective.

Lewis Howes:               Yeah. What’s the most meaningful thing in your life right now?

Nina Dobrev:                The most meaningful thing in my life, right now. Well, I can’t not say Maverick. She’s my kid. She’s my kid. But also my friendships.

Lewis Howes:               Yeah, you’ve got some great friends. I’ve seen you guys interact, all your friends. It’s fun to watch.

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah, I mean, you went to the wedding. It’s such a, like, I mean, that’s their life, that’s Julianne and Brookes’ entire existence and I feel like we all, Erin and Lauren are the same, and being in that sort of bubble of happiness, positivity and joy, just being there, you can feel the love. It was palpable, the energy was in the air, and celebrating love is so addictive in a way.

Lewis Howes:               We’ve got a couple of questions left for you. What’s a question you wish more people would ask you, but they never ask?

Nina Dobrev:                Hmmm… I could tell you a question I wish people wouldn’t ask.

Lewis Howes:               Hopefully I haven’t asked it. That one.

Nina Dobrev:                I think I might be moving to New York soon.

Lewis Howes:               Mmmm… I love New York, it’s so good! I lived there for a year and a half. It’s such a magical experience.

Nina Dobrev:                Oh, so you know. I’ve never spent more than 5-7 days there.

Lewis Howes:               Oh! It’s hard to leave.

Nina Dobrev:                I had somebody actually ask me when I told them I wanted to live there and they said, “How long have you been there?” and I said, “Five to seven days,” and they’re, like, “Oh, that’s why you love it so much, because you don’t really know it yet.” And it’s true, it’s a tough city, it’s…

Lewis Howes:               No, you’ll love it, it’s rad. You’re a go-getter. You would love it.

Nina Dobrev:                I wish there was more conversations that were meaningful and thoughtful and not industry-driven all the time and I want to be challenged and cultivated by different opinions and perspectives and that’s why I’m looking forward to going to New York, and meeting lots of random people and having interesting conversations with strangers.

Lewis Howes:               You’ll love it! And you’ll get so many good character development ideas too.

Nina Dobrev:                Exactly!

Lewis Howes:               This is a question called, The Three Truths that we ask everyone at the end. Imagine that it’s the last day for you. You’re a hundred-and-something years old, and you’ve achieved everything you want. Every vision, goal, dream, it’s all come true. Every movie you ever wanted to direct, act in, create, giving back, whatever, the family, everything has happened. But for whatever reason, all the content and material you put out there has been erased. So no-one can watch it any more. So, you’ve achieved it all, but no-one has access to watch it.

Now, everyone’s there, it’s your last day, you’re peaceful, you had a great life, and it’s about to be over. They’re all there, celebrating you, and they say, “We don’t have access to anything that you shared. All your content is gone. Your films, TV, everything you’ve done. But, here’s a piece of paper and a pen. We want you to write down three truths. The three things that you know to be true about everything you’ve learned, all your experiences, that you would pass on to us.”

Three lessons, or three truths, and this is all people would have to remember you by, except for their own memory, but no other content. What, would you say, are your three truths?

Nina Dobrev:                Wow. I find it to be true that laughter is the only cure for sadness and hard times. And that if you surround yourself around people that will keep you laughing and keep you in good spirits, then really everything else can disappear and you can have nothing, but if you have family and laughter, that you’ll be set and good.

And you’ll get through whatever tough time that you’re about to experience or have experienced. Because I’ve been there, and just all it’s taken is a phone call and a break down, and a conversation with somebody that I love, that I know supports me to get me back up. So that was one.

Lewis Howes:               Yes. Laughter. Loving it. Second truth.

Nina Dobrev:                Kind of similar. Because it’s about the people around you. I’ve found it to be true that if you surround yourself with people that will tell you the things you don’t want to hear, you will have a better life.

So, if you surround yourself around people who won’t kiss your ass, won’t compliment you all the time. Like, I want to be able to walk into a room and be like, “Hey, what do you think of this hat,” and for them to say, “It’s fugly, take it off.” And I do. My friends are like that, my family’s like that. My mom is my worst critic. She can be brutal.

I remember in high school I got into a fight with one of my girlfriends and I explained to her what the situation was, I was crying and my mom said, “Well, okay, but think about it from her perspective. This is what you did and maybe you shouldn’t have done that.”

And I was like, “Mom! Why are you not defending me?” and she’s like, “Because you’re not right, you’re wrong.” And having her explain that to me and realise that was so important. And you need to be kept in check. Everyone needs to be kept in check, and you find your people that will keep you honest.

Lewis Howes:               Yeah. Support you, but also keep you honest. That’s great. Okay. That’s number two, and the third truth. The last thing that they’d be remembering you by. You said you wanted people to challenge you with questions in conversations.

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah, I love that, I love that! I just want it to be meaningful, because it’s important. If you’re going to be remembered, you want to be remembered and celebrated and you want this message to continue on. And I’m torn between two things.

One of them is the ability to forgive and let go, both forgive and let go and to be able to actually apologise to someone, if you’ve done them wrong. That’s another thing that I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older, not to hold on to grudges, and to realise there’s no point in holding on to things.

Lewis Howes:               You’re only hurting yourself.

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah. Because it’s just, maybe it’s communication. If I want people to remember one last thing, it’s something that took me a very long time to figure out, and that’s to talk. And be honest about if something’s wrong, if you’re not feeling good, if you feel like someone hurt you. Just talk to them about it. Get it out of the way.

And they will hopefully do something about it and you’ll feel better about it, because if there’s something you did… hopefully people don’t do things intentionally to hurt each other, but if you’re made aware of an issue, then you can do something about it. And so I think that it’s so important to tell people how you feel and communicate, because a lot of the problems in the world could be solved if we just talked to each other, in a nice way and expressed our feelings.

Lewis Howes:               Yeah, absolutely, those are good. Now, before I ask the final question, I want to take a moment to acknowledge you, Nina, for your incredible heart, for your giving nature, for your commitment to helping other women to rise up, to be aware and to continue to push the limits. You left something that was very popular, successful, making a lot of money, to go do something that was more fulfilling for you, and to be an inspiration to so many young women in the world, and men, to show them what’s possible for themselves.

So, I acknowledge you for your incredible giving nature, your curiosity, your playfulness, your desire to live in service. I think you have such a big platform that your wanting to give back more now, is a powerful example, so I want to acknowledge you for all that.

Nina Dobrev:                Thank you. Thank you.

Lewis Howes:               Of course.


Nina Dobrev:                We do have huge platforms and it is important to try to inspire people, to use it for good, and by the way, while we’re on the topic, I would like to acknowledge you. You are doing incredible things and spreading powerful messages, and I want to tell you: Over the holidays, I was in the airport, and I was walking through to buy gum or something, and I saw these two books.

Lewis Howes:               Both of them?

Nina Dobrev:                Yes. Both of them next to each other, New York Times Best Sellers, Mister, you’re killing it! I literally was, like, “Wait, I know that guy! Wait! That’s…”

Lewis Howes:               “I did aqua yoga with that guy.”

Nina Dobrev:                “That’s my friend. I did acrobatic yoga with that guy. Is it?” And then I wasn’t sure, it was like, “Am I crazy?” and I took a picture and I sent it to Brookes and he was, “Yup! Same dude who had you suspended in mid-air.” It’s so crazy.

Lewis Howes:               Yeah. Thank you.

Nina Dobrev:                So, I am very proud of you and acknowledge all the great things that you’re doing for the world.

Lewis Howes:               Thank you. I don’t know if you know about this book, this is about men opening up and healing the trauma from the past that men are faced with that make them so guarded. That make them so hurtful toward people, other men, women and society in general. And it’s all about men forgiving themselves, healing the inner pain, communicating better.

Nina Dobrev:                And that’s exactly what I was just going to say. I feel like it’s a communication thing, that we talked about before. I think that if men were able to express themselves, I feel like there’s so much, it’s like a catch 22 because men are supposed to be strong and never show fear or sadness, or cry, and men aren’t supposed to be vulnerable, apparently, but that’s when egos get in the way and that’s when they get sort of pigeon-holed and put into a box and then they feel stuck.

Lewis Howes:               Trapped. I felt trapped my whole life. Until I started to be aware of it and started to let go of stuff and be vulnerable and not try to be perfect all the time, not try to win everything, not to be right at everything. Because, in some ways, the desire to win and be right at everything, it worked, I got results. But my inner world was constantly suffering, and I didn’t know how to communicate without anger or frustration or resentment. Because being vulnerable is less than a girl. If you were a jock athlete you couldn’t be vulnerable.

Nina Dobrev:                Well, that’s the perception, that you can’t be vulnerable.

Lewis Howes:               Right, right. Exactly.

Nina Dobrev:                But it’s so important. I think the whole masculinity and tough guy thing is very dated and the paradigms are shifting and I think it’s great. There’s great things happening this year and I think that 2018 is going to be such a powerful, amazing, positive, paradigm-shifting year. And I wish all good things to the universe and to everyone in it and I think things are happening this year.

Lewis Howes:               Absolutely. We’ve been cleansed during this. I want to make sure people follow you, it’s just @nina.

Nina Dobrev:                On Istagram, it’s @nina. On Twitter it’s @ninadobrev as well as on Facebook I believe it’s @ninadobrev too, yeah.

Lewis Howes:               So make sure you guys follow Nina, take a screenshot of this and that you’re listening or watching, tag Nina on Instagram, let her know what you’re thinking about this, send her a message on Twitter. I’m not sure what you check the most. But send her some love and share this with your friends.

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah, and then share love with all of your friends and everyone around you as well.

Lewis Howes:               Absolutely, absolutely. You just came out with a new video that came out on Funny Or Die, so we’ll have it linked up on the show notes as well, so you guys can watch that. Make sure to share that out, send some love out with that. Anything else that they should be aware of to be following or supporting Time’s Up, check out the website, be a part of that movement.

Nina Dobrev:                Please, yes.

Lewis Howes:               Anything else? Movies that you have coming out that you’re allowed to talk about yet.

Nina Dobrev:                Yeah. I have three coming out next year.

Lewis Howes:               So, go watch all of them. Support them all in theatres, online.

Nina Dobrev:                Please, yeah. Dog Days in one of them. Lucky Day is another one, that one I’m really proud of actually. Ah! I should have said that! Dammit! When you asked me earlier what I was really proud of that people might not know about.

Lewis Howes:               Oh, it’s fine. They’ll know now, they’re still listening. Go ahead, yeah!

Nina Dobrev:                Okay! So, I speak French, we talked about it a little bit, but it’s a broken, weird French, slang from my brothers and sisters that I just picked up as I was growing up, and this year I was given the opportunity to play a French character. So I speak French on the film. That’s why I cut my hair, really short with the bangs. I spoke French in it, and then when I speak English, it’s with a French accent.

And it was probably the hardest thing that I’ve had to do, because it’s one thing to have conversation with someone in French in person, it’s another thing to do it on camera knowing that it’s going to be on screens and people are going to be watching and judging it. People in France are going to be watching it. So, I still don’t know if the people in France will be satisfied with my performance, but I’ve never been more serious and more engaged and more passionate about having put work and time into something. It was the most method I think I’ve been so far on a roll.

Lewis Howes:               You and Jim Carey the same.

Nina Dobrev:                Not quite Jim Carey, no, no, no.

Lewis Howes:               Did you watch the documentary? How incredible was it?!

Nina Dobrev:                I did. I think what was weird was that I thought he was crazy at times, and that was like, a lot.

Lewis Howes:               He was, I mean…

Nina Dobrev:                But at the same time, as much as I thought he was crazy, I could also understand him, because I had just done the movie. I watched it right after I finished shooting my film so I also was, like, “Oh, I can relate, actually.” You do sort of need to embody and be this person, and when it’s so far from who you really are.

Lewis Howes:               Otherwise, it’s not going to feel real, you can’t just turn it on when you’re in the scene, like, “Act.”

Nina Dobrev:                No. I’ve done tons of movies, and especially with comedy, it’s so much easier to jump in and out, and be laughing in between the takes and then just as soon as they call action you just, you focus. But on this film, because I had to think about my performance, I was playing an older woman, I had a nine-year-old child in the film, I had to speak another language, I had to think about the accent and the words and the intention behind what I was saying and doing.

That took up so much of my brain power and so much of my energy that I had to stay in it. I wasn’t the fun go lucky person on set, I wasn’t chatting with people in between the takes. The script was in my lap and I was looking down and nothing else was going on around me. I would not allow anything to penetrate. It was the first time I didn’t bring my phone to the set at all. I left it in the hotel, or in my trailer. And it was so fulfilling. I haven’t seen the movie. I don’t know if it’s going to be good. I really hope it is, but yes, I did that. Dog Days…

Lewis Howes:               Dog Days, Lucky Day, is that what they’re called? And then what’s the other one?

Nina Dobrev:                And then, Departures. Also comes out next year.

Lewis Howes:               All of those come out in this year, 2018?

Nina Dobrev:                I think so, yeah. They should.

Lewis Howes:               So, go to the movies, support it, share out the trailers when they come out.  We’ll link up all the stuff as well. Final question for you is: What’s your definition of greatness? In a French accent. I’m just kidding!

Nina Dobrev:                [using French accent] My definition of greatness, is to have a collection of great moments, one great moment in that moment if you continue it on, if all of them are something you are proud of, then you will achieve greatness and you will look back in your life, and remember all the good things that have happened in your life.

How was that accent? That was improv and scary!

Lewis Howes:               Perfect, I love it! Nina, thank you so much! Appreciate it! That was great!

And there you have it my friends! Thank you again so much for being a part of this experience with the one and only Nina, I’m super pumped about this episode! Make sure to share with your friends, take a screenshot on your phone while you’re listening to this, post it up on your Instagram page, on your Instagram Story and tag me, @LewisHowes and @nina to let her know what you thought about this, I’m sure she’d love to hear the love and the thoughts about this interview.

Also, the full link is, so you can link to that on your Insta story, and swipe up, share it on your page on Twitter as well, and the full show notes and video interview is at

A big thank you to our sponsors that help us get the word out about this, I’m telling you guys, if you want to grow your business, if you’re a freelancer, an entrepreneur, a small business owner and you’re looking to grow your business, you’ve got to have your book keeping in order.

You don’t want to feel scatter-brained with your books, I’m telling you. I’ve been there in the past, and the peace of mind and having clarity of your financial health, your records, everything in order, so you know how much you’re making, how much you’re losing, what you’re spending on, what you need to pay in taxes. It’s going to give you that peace of mind to grow your business, and excel at another level. So check out You get 20% off the first six months, guys. Check it out, again,

Also If you are looking to launch a product online, you have an idea for a product, physical, digital product, either one, go to What is rewarding about being an entrepreneur is the freedom it has and the ability to be your own boss, to travel and to do more.

But you got to have an online selling store that is set up with the front-end and the back-end to support your business and your ideas. And that’s what Shopify’s been doing for a long time, and continues to do to help so many entrepreneurs. Check out to get started with your free 30-day trial.

And remember, John Wooden said this: “Talent is God-given, be humble. Fame is man-given, be grateful. Conceit is self-given, be careful.”

You were born for greatness. You have so much potential inside of you and one of the biggest things that you need to let go of is your fear of looking good, your fear of what other people are going to think about you when you take action on your dreams. Pursue them with your whole heart.

Allow yourself to have fun in the pursuit of your dreams, so that you can flow in the process. You’re going to fail. You’re going to make mistakes. Be aware of this, understand this, and realise that’s the only way you’re going to get one step closer towards the life of your dreams.

I love you so very much, and you know what time it is: It’s time to go out there and do something great!

Music Credits:

Music Credit:

Cloud Ten by Fareoh

Killer Cats by Kaibu

Comment below

let us know your thoughts

join thousands of
greatness subscribers
on your favorite platform