19/01/2017 17:52 GMT | Updated 19/01/2017 17:57 GMT

WISE WORDS: Nina Dobrev, Staying Real From 'Vampire Diaries' To 'xXx: Return Of Xander Cage'

"I'd rather hear the whole truth than be lied to."

For the latest in our WISE WORDS interview series - where stars from a whole range of fields share the important life lessons they’ve learned along the way - we’re posing some of the big questions to NINA DOBREV.

The Bulgarian-born actress is a familiar face to millions of fans, following her role of Katherine Piece on the supernatural drama series ‘The Vampire Diaries’.

On the big screen, her films have included ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’, ‘Let’s Be Cops’ and ‘The Final Girls’ This week sees her sharing kick-ass duties with Vin Diesel in ‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’.

It’s not been all smooth sailing for Nina, however. She tells us that heartbreak this year knocked her for six, leaving her devastated but a “better, stronger person”. She sat down with HuffPostUK to discuss this and other lessons she’s learned…

Also, plane rides. It used to be the one place no one could reach you and then they brought in wifi. But I never connect to the internet when I fly, I disconnect, I just sleep and watch movies, but it’s my time, I’ll check in again when I land.

What do you do to switch off from the world?
I do a few things. I am a bit of a spa-rat, not fancy spas. I like to go to a Russian bath, or a Korean spa, or a low-key one, one with a clay room, rooms that have energies in them, you go from hot to cold. You spend hours in there, you have no phone, there is no way anyone can contact you and I love it that way.

How do you deal with negativity?
As I get older, the methods of dealing with it have evolved. When I was younger, I used to throw tantrums. I was a difficult child. As a teen, I still threw tantrums. As a late teen, early twenties, I started to be more rational and put myself in other people’s shoes, see both sides, talk my way through, be compassionate, understand why people were led to say or do things, why I reacted, I’d analyse everything – and now I just don’t give a f***. I still care when it’s important, but I don’t’ worry about all those little things that used to make me so upset. I know what’s important to me, what I believe in, so not so much upsets me any more.


Nina teams up with Vin Diesel for high-octane antics in 'XXX: Return of Xander Cage'

When and where are you at your happiest?
When I’m with my friends. I have a few lifelong friends and there are people I’ve met in the last few years I feel like I’ve known all my life. They make me laugh.

Fellow travellers on this circus are the only ones who don’t talk about it, so paradoxically, I get to be normal with them. And my old friends.

What was the best piece of advice you’ve received?
My mum told me to be nice to the people on the way up, because you’ll definitely be seeing them on the way down.

What has been the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn?
Heartbreak. It happened within this last year, and it’s very humanizing It makes you more sympathetic, it made me more grounded and I was devastated at the time, but as a result now, I feel in a way I hadn’t before and I’m grateful for it, and I’m a bigger, better stronger person. It’s crazy to think you can feel better after something like that, but you eventually do.

What would you like to tell your 13-year-old self?
I would send her to a department store to get some mousse, and some hair gel, because I didn’t know what those things were. I’d ask her to meet my current hair stylist as soon as possible.

What three things are at the top of your to-do list?
I want to go to South Africa; and when I get there, I want to go white shark diving, and I want to film a documentary series, which I’m in the process of doing right now. I can’t say any more, but it’s close to my heart.

What do you think happens when we die?
The next movie I have coming out is called ‘Flatliners’, which explores that entire thing. Our characters are constantly trying to find out the answer to that question, but what becomes important is…we’re not meant to know until we get there, which is why it’s so important we get to enjoy our vibrancy now.

Daniel Zuchnik via Getty Images
Nina's known some pain this year, but she's grateful for it

When have you felt in the presence of something larger than ourselves?
When I’m in the water, in the ocean. I haven’t swum with great whites, but with other sharks, tigers, lemons, reef sharks, and when I’m in their presence, that’s when I feel like there’s something greater than us, something that’s made all of these things and it’s beautiful, incredible and inspiring.

What quality do you most treasure in relationships?
Brutal honesty, sometimes to a fault. I’d rather hear the whole truth than be lied to, and live my life in a detrimental way. If someone tells me I can change it, but if they don’t tell me, I can’t.

What keeps you grounded?
Not being consumed by this industry. This is my job, but I have a lot of other things going on. I’ll go camping and I won’t look at my phone until I’m back.

Everyone’s nice, but you can tell, there’s a look in people’s eyes when they’re being fake nice, and I’ve learnt to steer clear of those. I’ve encountered so many of those diva personalities, and it’s so unattractive I wouldn’t want to be like that myself.

A lot of what I’ve learnt is through observing other people’s mistakes and seeking not to emulate them.

What was the most recent act of kindness you received?
My best friend Jessica made this huge collage for me, with pictures from the last five years, that she’d printed out, glued, laid out. It was a real labour of love and those kind of gifts are my favourite, ones that are thoughtful.

‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’ is in UK cinemas now.