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Years ago, Gillian Anderson’s “The X-Files” character, doctor and FBI Special Agent Dana Scully, burst into the zeitgeist and spawned “The Scully Effect,” which is credited with encouraging more women to get involved with law enforcement and STEM fields. Now, she’s in another role that could have social impact: sex therapist Dr. Jean F. Milburn in Netflix’s “Sex Education.”

“She actually takes it to another level. She talks about things at moments when even the audience, I think, cringes. But I’ve always been incredibly open about sex and my sexuality and feelings and talking about stuff,” she said. “So it’s been quite fun to release that part of me to just talk about anything because it’s so nice to be able to give that freedom to people; to feel like by doing it, in a sense, it’s opening up a conversation that shouldn’t have shame attached to it, really.”

To grasp the importance of the role she’s playing in championing this conversation through her character, she shared an anecdote: “When we did the press for the first season last year, there were Polish journalists sitting in front of us saying, ‘you don’t understand, you are sex education for us in Poland because it doesn’t exist.’ Which is, on the one hand, quite a responsibility, but on the other hand, that’s so much information there.” “Sex Education” is eligible for a Golden Globe nomination this year.

Fans of the actress will have another chance to watch her take on the persona of another female champion in the upcoming season of “The Crown,” where she’ll take on the challenge of portraying historical figure Margaret Thatcher, aka The Iron Lady. “I guess it’s more complicated because so many people have so many opinions about who she was, what she stood for. It’s taking all that into account and just hoping that how she’s being portrayed in the script and through the series is as complex a view of her as she was a woman herself.”