Academy Award-winning actress Brie Larson plays the first lead female superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with her role as Captain Marvel. And portraying the flawed-but-unapologetic heroine has inspired Larson in her own life. Indeed, she wants to hold onto aspects of the character’s personality, that is, the ones that left her feeling more empowered.

In a recent In Style interview, Larson shared, “I want to hold on to the cockiness and the sense of ownership. Because I do believe in my abilities, and I do value myself, and I do know that I’m strong, and I do know that I can do a lot of things that people don’t think I can do.”

Born in Sacramento, Larson realized she was drawn to acting in early childhood. But there was an obstacle she needed to overcome: she suffered from social anxiety. As it turns out, acting would go on to serve as more than skill development in building her career. The star insists that learning how to act also taught her how to interact with people in general.

“It was a way of learning how to be a person. This is how you make eye contact. This is how you talk. This is how you hold a conversation. This is how you connect with your feelings. This is how you express yourself,” she recalled. “I’d be in a completely different place if I hadn’t found acting so early on because I think I really would have found comfort in my extreme shyness.”

By the age of six, Larson became the youngest student attending the drama training program at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. It wasn’t long before she landed her first gig performing commercial parodies on The Jay Leno Show. As a teen, she was cast in supporting roles in comedies such as the WB sitcom Raising Dad, and she later starred in the Showtime series United States of Tara and the 2012 film 21 Jump Street.

But Larson says she actually shied away from leading roles. “I was actively avoiding it. I guess, now that I think about it more, I wasn’t ready to do it,” she once told The Daily Beast. “I didn’t recognize myself as someone who was worthy of being observed for that long.” Her breakthrough came with being cast in the lead role in the indie Short Term 12 in 2013. Although Larson tried out for a supporting role, she came out with the lead.

Larson’s defining role came two years later with her extraordinary performance as a kidnapping victim, Ma, in the independent drama Room. In fact, her performance was recognized with a best-actress Academy Award. But she wasn’t sure what to make of the tremendous honor. She felt like she was randomly selected, and she still found herself questioning her acting abilities. “I guess the truth is, for me, no matter what recognition I get, I think I am always going to question myself,” she said. 

So, Larson turned to a friend about her frame of mind—Jennifer Lawrence, who’d likewise won a best-actress Oscar. “I was like, ‘I don’t feel any different. I don’t feel better about myself. I still don’t feel like I’m a good actress.’ [Lawrence] was like, ‘Oh, yeah. That’s totally normal. I’ve had the same thing. Don’t think of it like that. Think of it as, like, you got your Ph.D. You’re certified; that’s it. It doesn’t change anything. You can still f*** up. Every judge is still human.’”

Thankfully, being able to portray Captain America has made an impact on Larson. After enduring nine months of intense physical training, she was blown away to discover she could deadlift a whopping 225 pounds and even push a Jeep uphill. That’s a confidence booster right there! And after spending many years of second-guessing herself, Larson is determined not to let go of Captain Marvel’s confident mindset.

Have you ever portrayed a character and decided to keep some of the personal qualities for yourself?