August 25, 2017 10:20 AM

Jessica Jones fights crime in Hell’s Kitchen — but actress Krysten Ritter believes her character crusades for well-rounded, fully realized female roles in Hollywood.

Starring as the Marvel vigilante in both Netflix’s Jessica Jones and The Defenders, Ritter says she appreciates playing a woman who controls her narrative.

PEOPLE sat down with the actress at Saks Fifth Avenue’s 10022-SHOES 10th birthday celebration on Aug. 17 in N.Y.C. to discuss her complicated character.

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“She’s a badass woman and a character we’ve been waiting for, one that I hadn’t seen as a little girl growing up,” Ritter, 35, tells PEOPLE of portraying Jones in The Defenders (streaming now) and Jessica Jones (season 2 is filming now).

“I think it’s just such a way to move narratives forward for women, to see this really flawed character,” she says. “Everybody is flawed! And I think that’s why people like her.”

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Adds Ritter: “She deals with real, relatable issues that we all see ourselves in. And I love that she is down and dirty: She’s not trying to get a guy, she’s not trying to look pretty, she’s not trying to get anybody’s gaze on her — she’s just trying to get through the day. That’s a refreshing female image.”

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But Ritter admits her work on Jessica Jones can get dark.

“You live in the headspace of a girl who has a lot of trauma in her life; if you stay in that dark headspace too long, you get the blues,” says the star, who decompresses on set with knitting — and other creative outlets. “I wear hot-orange sneakers, funny sunglasses, just things so I keep it light.”

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