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In the books, Elena was blonde, popular, selfish and a "mean girl".
However the show's producers, Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson, felt that it wasn't the direction they wanted to go with their heroine in The Vampire Diaries television series.
Additionally, she said "I think I have one of the coolest characters on the show — I get to play two completely different people on opposite sides of the spectrum and I just have so much fun doing it". However, in the television series, she is Bulgarian, as is Dobrev, who can speak the language fluently .
The actress stated that it has been a challenge distinguishing the two, and enjoys playing them both.
In the television series's fourth season, Elena becomes a vampire and dies then deals with the struggles that come with her change.
On March 9, 2009, it was announced that Bulgarian-born Canadian actress Nina Dobrev, known for her portrayal of Mia Jones on Degrassi: The Next Generation, had joined the cast of The Vampire Diaries as Elena.
Executive producer Kevin Williamson recalled Dobrev auditioning while having the flu, which he described as the "worst audition ever", and they "didn't even look at her a second time".