"I don't want my old body back," new mom Jurnee Smollett-Bell tells PEOPLE


Since Chrissy Teigen opened up about her painful struggle with postpartum depression this week, fans and colleagues alike have come out in support. One of those individuals? Jurnee Smollett-Bell.

“Postpartum depression’s very real and we don’t talk about it, and I think it’s so incredibly brave of Chrissy to use her platform to be that vulnerable and that honest,” the star of the John Legend-executive-produced series Underground tells PEOPLE.

Adds Smollett-Bell, 30, “Because I think it gives other women this voice, and it empowers them to say, ‘Listen, you don’t have to be ashamed of it.’ It’s real — it’s a part of the process, and we just need to talk about it.”

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Credit: Ben Trivett

“I was so proud of her when I read the essay yesterday,” continues the actress, also known for her childhood roles on series like Full House and On Our Own.

As far as her personal experiences, Smollett-Bell says the time following the Oct. 31 birth of her first child, son Hunter Zion, has been about balancing expectations.

“You realize [you’ve] never [known] a love like this before in your entire life, and you just look down at this toothless little smile, you’re like, ‘Oh my God, you’re the most amazing person on the planet!’ ”

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Continues Smollett-Bell, “There’s a lot of adjustments, and you can’t deny that your life changes, your body changes. And for me it’s been about embracing this new chapter in my womanhood, and not trying to be the old self.”

“People will say like, ‘Oh, you’re trying to get your old body back,’ and I’m like, ‘No, I don’t want my old body back’ — that was the old me,” she explains. “So I’m embracing the new me. There’s a real new chapter in my womanhood that I’m walking in.”