Beanie Feldstein Says Being Queer Is 'Just Part of Who I Am': 'It's Not My Defining Feature'

Beanie Feldstein gives a breakout performance in her upcoming film Booksmart — but the project is special for a number of reasons.

Speaking with PEOPLE at a New York screening of the comedy on Tuesday, Feldstein, 25, explained what it meant to her to be a part of the film, which doesn’t make a big deal about Kaitlyn Dever’s character Amy being gay.

“It’s just the best,” she says. “It’s not just about representation, it’s about how you are representing, and the form that representation is taking. And I think Booksmart really asks the question of, so what happens after teenagers come out? Let’s tell that story.”

“The only love scene in the film is a queer love scene, and that’s so radical,” Feldstein continues. “By doing that, you’re asking that to be the norm. By showing queer sexuality, and making heterosexual people relate to it is actually really deeply meaningful.”

The Lady Bird actress adds: “For me in my life, it is a part of who I am but it is not at all my defining feature. It doesn’t mean I don’t love my girlfriend, it’s just part of who I am. And [the character]’s the same way. To see that in Amy and how beautifully Kaitlyn plays her and how beautifully Katie [Silberman, screenwriter] and Olivia [Wilde, director] crafted her, it’s gonna change a lot of people’s lives.”

The film, Wilde‘s directorial debut, stars Dever and Feldstein as high school best friends who decide to live it up on their final night before graduation. Booksmart also stars Lisa Kudrow, Billie Lourd, Will Forte and Wilde’s longtime partner Jason Sudeikis.

Feldstein also gushed to PEOPLE about what it was like to work with Wilde, 35, crediting the director for creating the unique “vibe” of the movie.

“She’s so cool,” the actress says. “And I’m very intimidated by cool people, but Olivia is like this rare breed where she’s that cool and that warm at the same time.”

“It has such a vibe to it, Booksmart. There’s a great visual aesthetic, there’s such a distinct style of the wardrobe, hair and makeup, the soundtrack,” Feldstein adds. “But at the same time, it’s so warm and it has so much heart, and it’s truly about female friendship. And I think Olivia is the reason it feels that way. Equal parts cool and warm.”

Feldstein had previously shared similar sentiments about the film.

At the South by Southwest festival in March, the actress said Booksmart made her “tear up.”

“It was completely meaningful for me to watch the film. My partner is a woman,” Feldstein said. “There’s a love scene between two girls and they’re fumbling with their sneakers and they can’t get their jeans off. All of those moments, they make me tear up because representation is really important.”

“Also, Kaitlyn’s character is not the only gay character in the film,” she added. “So there you go, what an incredible thing our film is doing. I think if I could have seen our film earlier, I would have found myself a bit sooner.”

Booksmart hits theaters Friday.

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