You know Daniella Perkins best by her role of Ciara in Nickelodeon’s Knight Squad, and now she’s opening up about just how much the character means to her. As an 18-year-old woman of mixed race, Daniella is proud to be a role model for so many young people who watch her show.

“It’s hard for me to feel accepted sometimes as a mixed race actress,” Daniella said in an interview with Complex. “For some auditions I’m not black enough, but no part of me could ever pass as a white woman. Recently I went on a few auditions that ended up all going to blonde actresses, but I’d never go out for something intended for someone darker.”

The star hopes that kids get to see more representation on screen, as it’s important for her that girls of color can relate to characters in shows and movies.

“It means everything to me to play a character everyone can relate to but more importantly girls of color can connect with. When you’re little, seeing someone on screen that looks like you really sticks with you,” she explains. “I was talking with someone my age recently who didn’t realize why it’s so impactful to have actors of multiple races play powerful parts. Although we’ve come so far, we’re still very far from where we need to be. It really just made me more aware that not everyone understands how much representation is still lacking on screen.”

Similar to how Ross Butler feels about why representing the Asian American community on screen is important, Daniella also feels that one day, having stars of different backgrounds will be the norm.

“It makes me so happy to see movies like Crazy Rich Asians too, though,” she added. “Hopefully we can come to the point where TV and film can have multiracial stars without it being newsworthy. I pray one day it’s just the norm.”

So what are her dream roles? A little bit of everything, it seems!

“I would love to play a bad–s woman of color in a superhero movie,” she said. “And put my stage combat from Knight Squad to use.” But that’s not all! She’d love to do a romantic comedy, as well. “I would really like to play the lead in a rom-com,” Daniella continued. “I just love ‘love.’ I want to continue playing powerful female role models in both comedy and drama.”

We can’t wait to see what’s next for the star!

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