The model-actress discusses her first film role and being in the French Riviera

By Alexandra Hurtado
May 28, 2015 12:10 PM
Chris Floyd

Take it from Chanel Iman: There are worse things than having your prayers answered in Cannes.

“I always come here for vacation, but to come back here promoting my own film is the coolest thing,” the model-turned-actress told PEOPLE, as she celebrated the international premiere of her debut film, Dope, at the Cannes Film Festival last week. “I’ve always prayed that I’d be here one day on the carpet promoting a film.”

Iman stars alongside Zoë Kravitz and The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s Tony Revolori in the comedy-drama, about a couple of nerds who get into trouble when they attend an underground party in Los Angeles. The film’s Cannes screening built on the buzz it generated earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival.

“It’s an achievement for me, so I’m very proud,” the 24-year-old said of her first big-screen role. In the film, she plays “wild, young-spirited” Lily – a character, she says, who “is very edgy, and it was definitely a challenge to play her because I’m nothing like that.

The key to nailing her performance? Iman didn’t “overthink things” and “just went for it,” she explained.

That edginess also extended to Iman’s red-carpet looks for Cannes. The actress dazzled in a plunging Zuhair Murad Couture gown at the amfAR Gala, making her one of the evening’s best dressed.

Her secret to looking red-carpet-ready? “It’s all about the makeup.”