The supermodel says she "fell in love" with her first starring role

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Cara Delevingne is one of the fashion industry’s most sought-after supermodels. But it’s a role she never sought for herself.

“I’ve always wanted to be an actress, more than anything in the world,” says the 22-year-old, who’s been the face of campaigns from Chanel to Saint Laurent, and runs in a highly coveted circle of friends (Taylor, Rihanna and Kendall, just to name a few).

In July, Delevingne will step off the catwalk and onto the big screen in the adaptation of John Green’s coming-of-age novel Paper Towns.

“Modeling was never a passion of mine. It wasn’t something that made my heart beat and built a fire inside of me,” she tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue.

But landing the role of Margo is everything she’d hoped it would be. “I fell in love” with her, she reveals. “I just thought she was so amazing I was far more unsure and self-conscious when I was that age.”

And bonding with the cast made the whole first-time experience that much sweeter. “Nat [Wolff] and I connected so well,” says Delevingne. “We had such a funny time. We bought a lot of stupid outfits and tried them on and ran into each other’s rooms late at night, just doing stupid stuff. The whole thing was like being back at school.”

And now, as the July 24 release date approaches, she’s feeling the buzz. Says Delevingne, “It’s completely surreal!”

For more of the biggest movies and hottest stars, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE magazine.