You have incredible style that you express on the outside, but there are so many intangibles that make us beautiful too. What quality do you rock inwardly?
Compassion. I think it’s important for people to get on the same level with others and not be judgmental, even though it’s really hard sometimes. It’s just as easy to have a positive effect on someone as it is to have a negative one.
At age 30, you have so many achievements under your belt. This month you’re starring in your 27th film, Love the Coopers. Do you view yourself as a role model?
I’m definitely aware of it. A few times a day young girls will come up to me and ask for a picture. Sometimes I read the comments on my social media feeds, so I see that people notice me. It’s a good reminder that there’s so much more I could be doing.
What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?
One of the things I like most about myself is that I have no expectations. That may sound sad, but it’s gotten me through some tough times during adolescence and in my career. Of course I have dreams and goals, but I don’t expect people to hire me, and I don’t plan for my life to go in a certain direction. No form of success will feel like a big deal if you expected it.
Tell us a little more about getting through those rough times when you were younger. What’s a challenge you’ve had to cope with?
I have obsessive-compulsive disorder. It doesn’t affect me as much as it used to because I’ve developed habits that keep it at bay. In some ways it has helped my acting career, but in a lot of others it’s just not fun. I have so much inner tension that I release by painting abstract watercolors. I even have a room dedicated to crafts in my house. I’ve been doing it for years, and it’s a form of meditation for me.
You got your big break playing Karen Smith in Mean Girls, a movie that still resonates more than 10 years later. What kind of an impression do you think it made on teenage girls?
I had just finished high school when I filmed that movie, and I think it had a strong impact because it made fun of jerks. It mocked the Regina Georges of the world—the power-hungry, selfish, and deeply insecure girls who prey on the weak for popularity or self-gain. The message you should take away from the movie isn’t “I want to be Regina.” You should want to be Cady Heron or Janis Ian.
If you could tell every Cady Heron of the world one thing, what would it be?
You are enough. Feeling like you’re not is an epidemic. It’s why relationships—with friends and with significant others— are so hard for so many people. Where’s our self-worth, and why can’t we find it in ourselves? We shouldn’t have to look to others to make us feel needed.
After speaking with I Am That Girl co-founder Emily Greener, Seyfried was so inspired she volunteered to speak at the annual I Am That Girl Leadership Retreat in Malibu, Calif., in October. Watch a clip below. Plus, be that girl! Share a gram or tweet with us and @iamthatgirl saying how you rock your #InnerStyle (confidence, compassion, sense of humor, intelligence) for a chance to be featured on instyle.com/iamthatgirl.