November 10, 2011 12:00 PM

Kat Graham knew from a young age that she was different. “In the third grade, I realized I was the only black kid in Hebrew school,” says the L.A.-bred Vampire Diaries star, 22. “But I wasn’t bothered by it. I glorify being different.” She also had a good laugh about it in the Funny or Die video “Black & Jewish”—a parody of the song “Black & Yellow” in which Graham raps about latkes and the Torah. “The video is about the similarities between the two cultures and poking fun at yourself,” says Graham, whose dad “comes from a long line of African politicians; my mother comes from Russian-Polish Jews.” After her parents split, when she was 5, Graham spent most holidays with her mom’s family. “We would go to my grandmother’s and do the prayers, light the candles, give gifts,” says Graham of Hanukkah, which she still observes—but with a few Christmas touches. “I celebrate both. I have presents under the tree,” she says. “And the next morning we’re eating latkes.”

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