The recently engaged actress, who stars in the new Netflix series Emily in Paris, opens up about making her own way in Hollywood
lily collins
Credit: Kimberly White/Getty

Lily Collins had a good 30th birthday.

The actress, who had auditioned for the lead role in Darren Star's new Netflix series, Emily in Paris, received an important phone call last year. ″Darren called me and was like, ‘Hi, Emily,’ ” she recalls in this week's issue of PEOPLE. “I grew up watching his shows, and I just thought this is something I have to go for. I was so willing to do whatever it took. I was like, ‘Just give me a shot!’ "

Now she's starring as a bubbly marketing millennial from the Midwest who finds herself navigating a new foreign life overseas. "Emily deeply resonated with me,” adds the actress, who also serves as a producer. “She’s a go-getter. She’s skilled. She doesn’t take herself too seriously. She’s all these things that women and men, whatever generation, can relate to.”

  • For more from Lily Collins, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
Lily Collins and Charlie McDowell are engaged
Lily Collins and Charlie McDowell
| Credit: Lily Collins/Instagram

Happily engaged to director Charlie McDowell, 37 (they announced their engagement on Instagram on Sept. 25), Collins, now 31, has been navigating the coronavirus pandemic with her now-fiancé and their dog, Redford.

Her self-care consists of “a hot bath, a good cup of tea and podcasts,” she says. “It’s definitely been a series of highs and lows. But if I can be in a room with no distractions with the people that I love and have a moment when I can laugh, that’s when I’m happiest.”

She's also come to terms with any anxiety she's felt. ″As a human being I'm constantly evolving and growing and I'm going to have insecurities,″ says Collins. ″We're being thrown these unprecedented situations as a global experience that if we just stay open and willing to embrace what's happening and embrace our emotions and express them and share with other people, I think we'll all feel less alone in our struggles.″

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Collins routinely shares her own journey with her social media followers. ″Even as someone who has written about it, I still experience moments of course where I'm going, 'Oh my God, I have so much anxiety. I'm really stressed,' ″ says the actress, whose 2017 book Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me, revealed her battle with an eating disorder.

″The second I have a conversation about how I'm feeling and someone else goes, 'Oh, God. Yeah. I was feeling that way as well.' Even if the situation is different but the emotions are the same, you can connect as humans and go, 'Okay, we're all going through this and therefore I can learn and grow from the situation and feel supported and support someone else in it and it's not as scary as it may seem,″ she says. ″I just think to encourage that is so powerful."