Aurelie Corinthios
January 06, 2018 01:00 PM

Alison Brie‘s portrayal of GLOW‘s fearless Ruth Wilder earned the actress her first Golden Globe nomination — but, as it turns out, she fought hard to nab the role.

Brie, 34, covered the January issues of GothamCapitol File, Los Angeles Confidential and Michigan Avenue magazines, in which she reflects on her road to Hollywood.

Be sure to check out PEOPLE’s full Golden Globes coverage to get the latest news on Hollywood’s big night.

Brie, who grew up in South Pasadena, California, says she was “such an annoying little performer from the time I was a small child.”

“But it just sort of demands creativity, I think, being [in] a small town,” she adds.

Alison Brie in GLOW
Netflix

It paid off: In 2007, she was cast as Trudy Campbell in the hit Mad Men, and two years later, as the bubbly Annie Edison in NBC’s Community. In 2015, both series aired their finale within a couple of weeks of each other — but Brie waited patiently to get back into TV, explaining, “I wanted to look totally different in the next thing I did.”

Enter GLOW (a.k.a. Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling), Netflix’s original series about women’s wrestling in 1985 Los Angeles, which premiered in June to rave reviews. But for Brie, the casting process was an uphill battle — the producing team was looking for “someone more unknown” for the lead role of Ruth, an out-of-work actress who throws herself in with a group of misfits, hoping wrestling can be a path to redemption.

“I just beat them down,” says Brie of eventually landing the role. “They tried to make me jump through hoops, and I was happy to jump through those hoops. Give me more hoops!”

In the end, the producers realized they had their star. “They said, ‘You were becoming the character the more you were coming in, the more you were determined to get it,’ ” she recalls.

And of course, the series also gave Brie the opportunity to flex some serious muscle.

Diego Uchitel

“In my adolescence, I didn’t have an athletic bone in my body,” she admits. “But the last six years, I have been working with a personal trainer.”

Inspired by friend and fellow actress Emily Blunt‘s physical transformation ahead of her role in 2014’s Edge of Tomorrow, Brie says she “set a private goal” to book an action movie — but beyond that, don’t expect her to change her body to “look the way they want me to look.”

Luckily, with GLOW, the producers “didn’t want us to change our bodies at all,” she says.

“They said, ‘We want all shapes and sizes of women to be represented on this show. We love you the way you are,’ ” she adds.

When it came to training for the show’s acrobatics, Brie and her costars focused on strength-building instead of body image, which she says was “incredibly empowering.”

RELATED VIDEO: 2018 Golden Globe Nominations: Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep and Big Little Lies All Score

And beyond her thriving career, Brie has also found happiness in her personal life. (She tied the knot with Little Hours costar and longtime boyfriend Dave Franco in March.)

“Being in my mid-30’s, I’m feeling satisfied in life,” she says. “I got married earlier this year. I think there are a lot of [areas] where I figured out what I want. I know who I am and I’m proud of it.”

The 75th annual Golden Globes are presented live at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California, on Sunday. The show airs at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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