Eiza González has achieved a dream she didn't know she had: To be the first Latin-American brand ambassador in North America for the Italian luxury brand Bulgari.
González, 31, who is known for starring in films like I Care A Lot and Baby Driver, was surprised to find herself in this role for two reasons: The first is that she grew up in Mexico City "as quite a tomboy," and the second is because she didn't see many women who looked like herself in high-fashion ads when she was young.
"In the '90s, there was a lack of representation around the world, I feel like," she tells PEOPLE. "It was all about showing us an idea of what the ideal woman should be but there wasn't a lot of shades to that woman, sadly. I'm honored to be the first [Latina face of Bulgari], and hopefully won't be the last."
Her style bonafides, developed over years on the red carpet, made her one to watch in fashion, but "never in a million dreams" did she envision this brand ambassador role for herself.
"It's incredible because I feel it's any girl's dream being able to play with all these jewels ... I'm just pinching myself," she says, adding that in her early red carpet days, she couldn't have imagined being sent jewels to model and play with.
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty
"I struggled so much to be able to get someone to lend me jewelry," she says, recalling a Vanity Fair Oscars party (above) where she didn't have many options until a friend agreed to lend her the showstopping necklace she eventually wore.
"If anyone would have told me back in the day that I was going to become the brand ambassador of Bulgari, I would've never believed you," she says.
She also might have been surprised to hear that she's become the fashion darling she is. Her mom, Glenda Reyna, is a former runway model and modeling agency owner; being around Reyna's work meant she was always surrounded by fashion, but didn't take much of an interest in it.
"I grew up in between the dresses and running behind the scenes. And so, obviously being so drenched in that world is something that is inherently in me," González tells PEOPLE. "I was super tomboyish. Didn't really like makeup and hair, getting dressed up — you become rebellious of what you see at home. But now that I've felt like a grown into myself and I've become a woman, I feel very comfortable in my skin."
González, who can next be seen in Godzilla v. Kong, says that comfort applies to her personal and professional spheres as well. "I'm in a great state in my life," she tells PEOPLE. "I just feel my life is really balanced … I'm feeling the love from my family, my partner [lacrosse player Paul Rabil], my friends, my business company. And I couldn't be more grateful."
González is also grateful that she can make her mom proud, and to represent something bigger, with her new role for Bulgari.
"It sends a loud message — as a Latin woman, to be able to be part of the [Bulgari] family in this extent, it just shows that there's different colors and ethnicities and they're all beautiful in every way," she says. "Especially being an immigrant woman, to be part of the brand in North America, sends a loud message."
Want to get the biggest stories from PEOPLE every weekday? Subscribe to our new podcast, PEOPLE Every Day, to get the essential celebrity, entertainment and human interest news stories Monday through Friday.