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September 24, 2015 12:25 PM

Viola Davis isn’t afraid to take risks as an actress – she even has a new Emmy Award to show for it – but she’s pushing herself even further for season 2 of How to Get Away with Murder.

“I’ve had to operate outside of my comfort zone in every single way,” Davis tells PEOPLE of working on the new season of her hit ABC drama. “I’m constantly going to work being afraid. And that’s a sweet spot for an actor. That means you’re doing things that are transformative.”

Davis promises a “raw” and “vulnerable” second season of HTGAWM that won’t be a “slow burn.”

“From the very first episode, they’re going to take off and run,” she says.

The actress, 50, won’t give any specifics when it comes to what the writers have in store for season 2, but she’s willing to share her own hopes for her character, the bold Annalise Keating.

“At some point, I would want her to love herself a little bit more,” says Davis. “I know, that sounds like something you don’t want to hear. You want her to probably dance in a cage and strip or something. She’s a mess. And I love that. But I want her to love herself more.”

Reporting by SCOTT HUVER

RELATED VIDEO: Viola Davis Had a Strange Fan Encounter in a Restroom

Season 2 of How to Get Away with Murder premieres Thursday at 10 p.m. on ABC.

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