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LOS ANGELES – Up to now, Chanel Iman is best known for strutting the runway wearing wings as a Victoria's Secret Angel. But she's hoping to change that and follow in the footsteps of former top models Cybill Shepherd, Rene Russo and Andie McDowell, who all successfully made the transition from model to actress. This Friday, Iman has a role in her first feature film, the coming-of-age, nerds-in-the-hood comedy-drama from Open Road Films, "Dope."
"Getting into acting is something I have always wanted to do," Iman tells FOX411. "I worked with my acting coach, I went in for an audition, and then they called me. It was like an overnight thing. I went on set and I fell in love with being an actress. I just want to continue to do it."
"Dope" is the story of Malcolm (Shameik Moore), a brilliant senior, attending high school in "The Bottoms" neighborhood of Inglewood, Calif., who dreams of going to Harvard. But a chance decision to attend a birthday party for a local drug dealer (A$AP Rocky) -- all for the love of a hot woman (Zoë Kravitz) -- leads Malcolm astray from the straight life he has been living and into desperate circumstances. And that is where the comedy begins.
Iman, 24, plays Lily, one of the beautiful women that Malcolm meets as he tries to wriggle his way out of his trouble and get to his interview with the Harvard alumnus who will determine whether or not he gets to attend the college of his dreams. Little does he suspect that Lily just happens to be the wild, drugged-out daughter of that self-same alumnus -- and she becomes a huge obstacle as she creates mess after mess -- plus she just can't keep her clothes on.
"For me, it is not a big deal to be nude because I have shot with a lot of photographers in the past in fashion, so to do a film being nude is the same thing," Iman says. "It's art. I don't have very much to show anyway. I think people think of me as a doll because I just have a little bit of nothing."
The 5-foot-10-inch beauty, whose parents are of African-American and Korean-American heritage, was particularly interested in playing Lily, because Lily is edgy -- all raw with no makeup -- as opposed to the polished, glam look Iman usually presents.
So she had a lot of fun doing anything outside her comfort zone, including a vomiting scene in which Lily lets loose all over Malcolm.
"We did about 10-15 takes because they had to position the camera right," she says. "It was just rice pudding in my mouth. [Director] Rick [Famuyiwa] would say, "Aim for the neck." And every time, I would spit right in Shameik's face. There was nothing I could do. He's definitely a good sport, but I can no longer eat rice pudding. It freaks me out."
The 5-foot-10-inch stunner, who has walked the runway for designers including Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, Max Mara, Yves Saint Laurent, and Versace and appeared in advertising campaigns for Ralph Lauren, DKNY and Bottega Veneta, has no plans to quit her day job. But she is hoping that "Dope" will lead to more acting opportunities.
"I just hope my acting career takes off and I am in another film by next summer," she says, pointing out that since she already knew her best angles and understood lighting, it helped with the transition. "I am still doing shoots all the time and working as a successful model. And I am on my way to Africa next week for a charity."
"Dope," written and directed by Famuyiwa, opens in theaters on June 19.