This Is Us was without a doubt one of the surprise TV hits of the year. We knew we were gonna love it and that it would fill the Parenthood-style gap in our sappy little hearts from the first time we saw the trailer, but the way it snowballed into becoming a shared experience and cultural phenomenon was really something else.

While the show boosted the popularity (and sex-symbol status!) of Gilmore Girls‘ Jess, AKA Milo Ventimiglia, it also brought Mandy Moore back into our regularly scheduled programming and gave the on-the-rise star Sterling K. Brown more much-deserved screen time. But it also made a star out of Chrissy Metz, AKA Kate Pearson, and we’re SO glad it did. Here are a few fun facts to know about one of TV’s brightest new stars.

1. Her dad was in the Navy, so she lived in Japan for awhile when she was a kid.

2. She was discovered at a Florida talent show that she went to as a chaperone for her sister. Metz told Bustle that she was 21 when a manager told her to take her talents out of Gainesville and straight to Los Angeles. She did.

3. Metz had single-episode roles on shows such as Entourage and My Name Is Earl earlier in her career, and appeared in a handful of episodes of American Horror Story: Freak Show.

4. She had 81 cents in her bank account when she booked the role on This Is Us,she told Rachael Ray. By the middle of the show’s first season she was nominated for a Golden Globe.

5. She sings in a band! Chrissy and the Vapours are some soulful, blues-y goodness.

6. She’s SO down to earth. “If I ever end up on the worst-dressed list, it’s not going to make me fall apart,” she said in her recent Harper’s Bazaar pin-up shoot interview. “I want to look great and feel good and be comfortable, but at the same time, none of this really matters. This is the fun part.”

7. Metz is bringing more much-needed awareness to body-positivity both on and off the show. As Kate Pearson, Metz exists in a constant struggle with her weight and health and how it has and continues to affect her life; off-screen, Metz doesn’t necessarily want to be defined by her weight, but knows it’s important to continue to educate people on weight struggles. “It’s not just about food,” she told Bustle. “It’s about a symptom and what we fill that void with, and everybody can relate to that.”

No shocker here: We’re already counting down for season two of This Is Us, but we’re also betting we’re going to be seeing lots more of Chrissy Metz in film, TV, magazines, and more — and we’re very okay with that.

Are you a fan of Chrissy Metz? Share your story with us over @BritandCo!

(Photos via Frazer Harrison, Marcus Ingram/Getty)