The actress didn't realize how hard it is to sing a cappella

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She’s the newest member of the Barden Bellas, but Hailee Steinfeld says her singing skills were limited before signing on to costar in Pitch Perfect 2.

“I was equally excited as I was nervous,” Steinfeld, 18, tells PEOPLE in the magazine’s new issue of taking on the role as the a cappella group’s newest recruit.

“Singing has always been something that I love, but I’ve never taken it any further than maybe the shower.”

But when her agent called to tell her about the possible part, the True Grit Oscar nominee couldn’t wait to give it a shot.

“The whole concept of singing a cappella was something so fascinating to me, and watching the first movie you realize how cool it is, but you don’t realize how hard it is.”

Related Video: Brittany Snow Promises Pitch Perfect 2 Will Be ‘Bigger and Badder’

One thing that helped Steinfeld?

“It’s kind of a cool feeling though because you are walking into a world that is already established” she says.

“Having been a fan of the first film feeling like I knew all of them already and I kind of felt like I was already a part of it in some way. Getting there and jumping in with them and making it was very weird but also exciting.”

And when in doubt, Steinfeld just threw in a little of the aca-awesome lingo.

“I just started putting ‘aca’ in front of everything and that seemed to work!”

For more from Steinfeld, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

And come back to PEOPLE.com at 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT tonight to watch the Pitch Perfect 2 premiere live!