British actress Lily James, known for her roles in TV series Downton Abbey , Disney movie Cinderella and the Netflix film Rebecca turns 32 on April 5. Here the star talks to STYLE about being a role model to young girls, and reveals why she steers away from social media. If I am to be a role model to young girls, I want it to be something healthy because I worry about a level of self-obsession with perfection that can become so contagious and so destructive. I want to be a positive influence Exclusive interview: Jay-Z on Jack Dorsey, Black Lives Matter and bitcoin She studied psychology and philosophy “I’m very curious about human psychology, and acting requires you to be constantly trying to understand your character’s personality and understand their thinking and motivations.” She thrives on the intensity of her performances “I want to be pushed beyond my limits, going to dark extremes that take you to places that you’re scared to explore but are exciting at the same time. It’s not easy but I don’t know any other way of working that brings me to where I feel I need to go. “I’m naturally inclined to want to push myself as hard as possible to the point where I feel exhausted from doing as many takes as possible. I remember I kept asking to do more takes on Cinderella because I didn’t believe in myself. I couldn’t see what Kenneth Branagh could see. I still struggle with that tendency, I think it’s to do with control and, as an actor, you have to let go of that control. Being self-critical like that is almost like vanity.” She does not think of herself the way the public does, as a beauty icon “It’s sort of bizarre to me to even associate myself with that. I’ve really tried to be true to myself. And I know that I’m flawed, and I know that I’m not perfect … I think it all comes from within. Beauty is much more than just how you look or posing in a photo. It’s about your essence. If I am to be a role model to young girls, I want it to be something healthy because I worry about a level of self-obsession with perfection that can become so contagious and so destructive. I want to be a positive influence.” 5 celebrities who went under the knife to lose weight She deliberately cut herself off from social media during the filming of Rebecca “I abandoned Instagram for three months [because] I wanted to disconnect, and I think that this period did me a lot of good … I’m wary of social media because anything you say can reach millions of people and you need to be wary of that. “I don’t want to project an image of myself that doesn’t correspond to reality. And as for Instagram, I’m in conflict with myself. A part of me sees its positive aspects, the other part is afraid of constantly putting my life on display.” She approaches life differently now after reaching her early thirties “I expect great things from the future and I feel full of energy. My twenties felt very hectic and kind of raced by, but now I am finally understanding better who I am and what I want. I’m also learning to look at my career in a way that I’m not as stressed about which roles to take and I can enjoy the process more. “I feel like I’m in this stage in my life where I feel more assured and brave enough to go and speak about what matters to me. I want to keep playing really different people – people who think or operate or engage with the world in a way that I want to explore.” Is Meghan Markle the most hated woman in the world? Her father James Thomson, who died in 2008, was a constant source of inspiration “My father was my everything. He was a great thinker and he had a very analytical mind, as well as being very spiritual. He has always encouraged me to be curious and to discover things on my own and try to think matters through. “He had an incredible imagination; he would do these amazing imitations, and he wrote beautiful poems, some of which I found only after his death. I am so grateful that he made me grow up in a wonderful world, full of joy and dreams. My desire to act surely comes from him. “I also have to give credit to my grandmother [American actress Helen Horton] who was very glamorous and had this terrific flair to her personality. When I was young I would try to watch as many of her movies and television appearances as I could.” Want more stories like this? Sign up here. Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .