Amercia Ferrera admits the red carpet has not always been her favorite place to spend an afternoon.
“When I started out, every red carpet or photo shoot felt like a stressful, momentous occasion,” the Superstore actress – who got her big break in 2002’s Real Women Have Curves before starring on ABC’s Ugly Betty – says in the current issue of PEOPLE.
But now, Ferrera has discovered the key to enjoying her time in the spotlight.
“Trying to be perfect all the time can be draining,” she says. “But I’ve grown up and realized that who I am as a person doesn’t change with the outside world’s approval of my appearance. If everyone hates my dress but I like it, that’s all that matters. I’m finally learning that being not perfect is okay.”
• For more from Ferrera – including why she is weirded out on girls’ nights with her Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants costars – pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now
Ferrera has also gained appreciation for giving her time at award shows meaning. She used her platform as a presenter at the 2016 Golden Globes to poke fun of – but also comment on – the fact that she’d recently been mistaken for fellow Golden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez.
“I think there is a lot of freedom in taking the microscope off yourself and putting it on something or someone else,” she says.
Watch Ferrera on Superstore, airing Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on NBC.