"Playing Dani really made me realize who I was in so many ways," Blu Hunt tells PEOPLE of starring in The New Mutants

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Blu Hunt
Credit: Twitter

Blu Hunt is a star on the rise.

The relative newcomer, who headed this summer's X-Men spinoff The New Mutants, had to wait for two years for the delayed  film to be released — now she's ready to take on Hollywood on her own terms

Like her New Mutants character Dani Moonstar, Hunt is Native American and is proud of her roots. Hunt's great-grandfather was Apache, and her grandmother lived on the Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The actress, whose first role was on The CW vampire drama The Originals, is also proudly queer, similar to her super-powered heroine.

"Playing Dani really made me realize who I was in so many ways," Hunt tells PEOPLE. "That was honestly the best part about getting this role... Knowing that I got to be queer and that I got to represent the Indigenous community."

"On a personal level, I got to go on this really crazy personal journey of finding things out about myself, by playing this character who I felt like I related to so much"

Below, learn more about the up-and-comer, who can also be seen on the Netflix show Another Life.

The New Mutants changed her life in surprising ways.

"I was like, 'Why do I related to Dani so much?' I was like, 'Oh, maybe I'm just super queer,'" she recalls. "I started going to the reservation more and it was just like... It's really cool when you can work on something that changes your life in so many different ways. I think it's really important that people who are actually queer, people who are actually of the same race are playing those characters, especially in movies like this."

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Blu Hunt in The New Mutants
| Credit: Marvel

She was overwhelmed when she got cast in The New Mutants.

"I was definitely, incredibly intimidated," says Hunt of scoring her first film role. "I was really nervous. I remember when I found out I got the role, I was so stunned and shocked. I didn't cry when I found out I got it. I didn't even smile, I just was in absolutely shock, because I was like, 'Oh my God, this is really happening."

She's still close with her New Mutants costar Maisie Williams.

"We have a very, very close bond," says Hunt of the Game of Thrones star, who plays her love interest in the film. "We still text each other all the time and catch up and FaceTime. I really consider her one of my better, best friends, which I think is rare to happen. You don't always actually become genuinely close with the people you work with. She really just told me to just be myself and keep a sense of my own privacy. She told me you can't think too much about any of it, what people say, and just always [be] who you are. I think that really stuck with me."

She's not bothered The New Mutants was delayed and released during a pandemic.

"I truly have had an experience that nobody else has ever had in the film industry," Hunt marvels. "Not only did I get the lead role in a big Marvel film as my very first project, pretty much ever, but then it got pushed for years and that it came out during the pandemic. It's almost the story of the movie finally coming out is more interesting than anything.

"It's definitely been a humbling experience. I'm almost happy it happened this way, because I know that getting something like that and just going straight into billboards with your face on it and parties and having a publicist and all those things, could just really change a person.

"I feel like I got the perfect little taste of my dreams coming true, but then was knocked back to my reality a little bit and I grew up a little, because I was only 21 when I made the movie. Now I'm 25 and I feel like I know who I am as an actor and as a person now. It would have been weird for everything to happen so quickly, without having to have the time to figure those things out."

She also wants to write and direct her own films.

"I've been writing a lot during quarantine and my goal in life is to be a director," Hunt says. "I think when I was younger, when I decided I wanted to be an actress, I truly, because of where I grew up, I truly didn't think that women could be directors. Seriously, I had no idea. I thought if you wanted to be a part of movies and you were a girl, that you had to be an actress. Quickly after moving to Los Angeles, I realized that the wasn't the case. I saw my first Agnes Varda film and I was like, 'Whoa, women make movies about women? That's so cool.' I really want to be a director and a writer and I want to make projects for Indigenous roles and for queer roles. That's what I feel passionate about."

The New Mutants is available to buy and rent on digital platforms, including Movies Anywhere, and on DVD/Blu-ray.