"I feel so blessed to play Addison," says Meg Donnelly, of her role on Disney's hit musical, Zombies 2

Playing the role of Addison on Disney’s hit musical Zombies, Meg Donnelly finds fan reactions often blur the lines of onscreen versus off.

“A lot of kids come up to me asking me questions [from the movie] like, ‘Does your cousin still hate Zombies? Where is [costar] Zed?’ ” Donnelly, 19, tells PEOPLE. “It’s so cute. And I answer as Addison. I love pretending to be her.”

Before Zombies (the sequel, Zombies 2, premieres Feb. 14 on The Disney Channel), Donnelly was a self-proclaimed “theater kid,” and started acting at 11 before landing a role on American Housewife.

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All along, “my dream was always to be in a movie that was a musical,” says Donnelly. “High School Musical was my entire life!”

So when she was given the opportunity to audition for Zombies, playing the role of high school cheerleader Addison living in a town where humans and zombies struggled to co-exist, Donnelly jumped at the chance.

Milo Manheim and Meg Donnelly
Milo Manheim and Meg Donnelly

“The message is incredible,” she says. “No matter where you come from, there can be people you think are scary, but you have to get to know them and realize that they’re just like everybody else.”

Continues Donnelly: “High school is such a scary time and you have no idea where to fit in. In Zombies 2, Addison is trying to find her place and figure out where she fits in. But if you’re nice to everyone, and inclusive, you’ll find the group you’re meant to be in.”

Costarring with Milo Manheim, 18, who plays zombie Zed, has been an added bonus for Donnelly.

Meg Donnelly and Milo Manheim in Zombies 2

“We met during the audition process,” she says. “On the last one, we really got to know each other. They wanted us to sing a duet and we sang ‘Love Is An Open Door’ from Frozen. We really relied on each other. And we formed such a special bond.”

Ultimately, “I feel so blessed to play Addison,” says Donnelly. “I’ve learned a lot from her. She’s such a good person and her intentions are always so pure.”

What’s next? Donnelly is promoting her debut album, Trust, and has her sights set on a new project.

Says the rising star: “My dream dream role is to be in a Marvel movie!”