Perhaps one of the best things about watching The Vampire Diaries for the past five seasons has been watching Nina Dobrev grow as an actress. She started as a 20-year-old actress, fresh off her role as Mia Jones on Degrassi. Now that Season 5 is about to come to a close, it’s time to look back at just why this gal is deserving of all the accolades in the world — especially an Emmy.

She’s improved leaps and bounds

Since Nina stepped on the scene five years ago to play Elena Gilbert, she was relatively fresh on the scene. Sure, she had appeared on the popular Canadian high school drama, but this was her first venture into primetime network dramas. We’ll admit that the acting was pretty ameatur at the beginning, but over the past few seasons, she’s been able to blossom into a seasoned pro. We think this is primarily due to her doppelganger duty.

Speaking of doppelgangers, let’s talk about Katherine Pierce in Season 5, Episode 15 (“Gone Girl”). Not only did the terrible mom make everything right between her and her daughter, Nadia (Olga Fonda), but she also died in perhaps the most epic death in the history of TVD.

The scene where Katherine told Nadia goodbye and gave her that fake memory of her mom tucking her into bed was the most heart-wrenching moment ever on the CW show. If you weren’t in tears (or at least close to them), we don’t think you’re human. The moment where Katherine showed us her humanity and then flipped that switch again and totally threw shade at the Mystic Falls gang was the best way to go out. And as she got pulled into Hell? Perfect. Season 1 Nina couldn’t have pulled it off.

She plays multiple characters with ease

Who — besides Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany — can brag that they play multiple characters on a hit TV show? Short answer: not very many. And even if they do, we’ll bet you that they don’t do as good a job as Nina (and Tatiana) does.

Nina has played human-turned-vampire Elena, 500-year-old vamp villain Katherine, and the first immortal woman, Amara. Nina has said over the years that she has spent lots of time perfecting certain characteristics for each character (i.e. Katherine’s raspy voice and Elena’s doe-eyed demeanor). The best part about that? The hard work really shows off.

In Season 5, we didn’t need the slight difference between Elena and Katherine’s hair to help us tell the difference between the two, it was all in how Nina delivered it. On top of that, there were even instances where she had to play one character impersonating another doppelganger. That has to be tough. And while Katherine’s charade didn’t last too long, she was pretty spot-on as Elena.

TVD deserves some love

We know that the Emmy folks don’t even pay any attention to shows they don’t consider high-brow enough, but they should definitely show TVD some love. We’ll admit that it has a definite cheese factor with the plot and writing sometimes, but it would be a travesty to pass up on a real talent just because she’s on a supernatural teen drama.

Credit: Art Streiber/The CW ©2010 The CW Network

We’re not going to sugarcoat it: Season 5 of TVD hasn’t been the strongest in terms of plot. It’s bounced all over the place and with the season winding down, we still don’t really know where they’re headed. But what we can say about this season is that it may be Nina’s best work to-date. As we’ve mentioned above, the storyline that she’s been able to navigate this year has been exceptional (with the exception of Amara, which we don’t really care about). We’re so sad to see Katherine go, but at least she went out with a bang.

She’s a seasoned pro

Nina has been carrying the show in terms of the female lead for five seasons now. Sure, we love Candice Accola and Kat Graham as much as the next person, but in terms of females on TVD, Nina is the definite lead. It’s pretty rare for a show to stick around for six seasons, but this show is proving that it has the spunk to last for quite a while. Nina has been at the helm since the very beginning, caught between two hot vampire brothers, and has gone on quite an epic journey since her innocent high school days. Nina has what it takes and always proves that.

Do you think Nina is deserving of an Emmy nomination — or the award? Hit the comments and let us know!

The Vampire Diaries airs Thursday nights at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.

Carson Blackwelder is an Associate Editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow him on Twitter and Google+!