Danielle Macdonald is one of Variety‘s 10 Actors to Watch for 2017. For the full list, click here.

Australian Macdonald is enjoying her “a star is born” moment thanks to Geremy Jasper’s Sundance darling “Patti Cake$,” in which she plays a wannabe rapper from the wrong side of the Hudson. But don’t assume this breakthrough moment is some kind of overnight success story. Macdonald spent years hiding in her closet and teaching herself how to rap as Jasper rounded up funding.

“It’s funny. Because there was all this time to work on the rapping, I spent less time stressing over the acting” when filming started, she says. “That was my first film where I was in every single scene. When you’re so focused on just getting it done, that’s kind of a really good thing. Sometimes too much time can be a problem.”

Macdonald is filming “Dumplin’,” another pic that casts her as its titular heroine. Not surprisingly, she’s read a lot of scripts with these types of characters and she has a message for writers in Hollywood. “Just because you have a big girl in a role, that shouldn’t be the only facet of the character,” she says. “I think when we normalize roles and put people in roles where you wouldn’t necessarily see them — I’m talking in every way, like switching genders and different body types and different ethnicities and different sexualities — it just makes it normal and not a thing. It’s not just making the story about this person in this role. It’s just a role and I’m playing it.”

Influences: Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Malala Yousafzai, Nelson Mandela;
Representation: Agency: CAA; Manager: Justice & Ponder; Lawyer: Felker Toczek Suddleson Abramson