Starring in a Pixar film is everyone’s dream, but Toy Story 4 left a particularly deep impression on Ally Maki. The talented actress, who’s appeared on shows such as Wrecked and Cloak & Dagger, got her first big movie break playing Giggle McDimples. Giggle may be a tiny character, but she’s had a huge impact on Maki’s career and confidence.

During a recent press junket for Toy Story 4, the actress explained that this was “the best job I’ve ever had” precisely because it allowed for self-expression. The first thing she heard from director Josh Cooley and the producers was to be 100% herself when portraying Giggle. “So already I felt so free in that moment to just be myself and play and be different versions of her,” Maki gushed. “It was just going balls to the wall, but then still having the emotion behind it. It was so much fun.

Lessons Toy Story Taught Ally Maki

Ally Maki as Giggles McDimple
A little toy that packs a big punch.

Not only did the Toy Story newcomer feel welcome to try new things, but her self-esteem got a major boost when those things worked. Cooley told her that 85% of the Giggle lines that made it into the film were from the first half hour of the first recording session. “To me [that] meant a lot, because it really meant that my first instincts and what my first feelings were for the character were what was really special,” the actress confessed.

Ally Maki’s performance bled into her real life as well, in a very poignant way:

I found a lot of confidence and a lot of identity from just being in this film. Because it’s basically saying that someone like you matters; girls like you matter. I’m excited for the next generation. They’re going to be 10 years old, they’ve got their dolls and they’re like, “I can be a police chief! Obviously. Why would you think I couldn’t be?” I love that. It’s like, “Wow, where’d you get your confidence?” But that’s what these characters do for them. It just creates their new normal. It is their reality. I’m growing up in a world where women are police chiefs, where women aren’t afraid to say how they feel. Doing films like this helps me personally.

If the media children consume shapes their worldview, this generation is in good hands with Giggle McDimples and the heroes of Toy Story 4. Are you excited to see Ally Maki in her life-changing role this weekend? Let us know in the comments below, and check That Hashtag Show for the latest news on your favorite films.