Cover Exclusive: Alice Braga, Hollywood's Next Screen Goddess

Alice Braga may have hit the big time in Hollywood, but her heart is rooted in Brazil. Favorite beach? Ipanema. Favorite designer? Maria Garciel. Favorite director? Fernando Meirelles, who gave Alice her breakthrough role in his Oscar-nominated film City of God (and did for her career what Pedro Almodóvar did for Penelope Cruz).

Latina's August covergirl lets us in to her inner world and shares her rules to live by—including the ones handed down from her I Am Legend co-star Will Smith.

For more of our interview with Alice Braga, pick up the August issue of Latina, on newsstands now!

On being raised by divorced parents: They were separated when I was one year old, but my father lived three streets away from my mother in the same neighborhood. They were really good friends and I was close to both of them.

On how her family influenced her decision to go into films: [My parents] loved cinema. I grew up watching a lot of movies with them. My father loved Godard and Truffaut. He was more artsy. My mom loved the Bourne trilogy, she likes big blockbusters. She loved that I did I Am Legend. My passion for acting came with my passion for movies.

On her famous aunt, Sonia Braga: We are not that close. But I admire her a lot. And she's a wonderful actress. So when people connect me to her, it's an honor because I'm a big fan of her work.

On her break into acting: My first commercial was when I was eight. I did more commercials after I was 15 [with Oscar-nominated director Fernando Meirelles]. [At first] you're not into it. But you need to do it because everybody else is working. But after a while, I wanted it. For me, being on a movie set was magical.

On landing her breakthrough role in City of God: I did two commercials with him, one for sugar, another for a telephone company. Then after a year, he told me about the audition for City of God. It was a rehearsal with just the boys, to connect with them. Just figuring out how it would be with all of us together, the energy, the chemistry, and all of that. The boys liked me, and it happened.

On her approach to acting: I love the process of discovering a new world, that's why I'm passionate about acting. It's just discovering life, feelings, ideas and thought. I do a lot of research. For I Am Legend, I did a lot of research about survivors. If everybody is dead around you, how you can keep surviving. I went to the bookstore and found psychiatry books about survivors from the Holocaust.

On motherhood: I'm too young to have kids, but I really want to be a mom. I don't know if it's a Latin thing, but I love kids.

On losing her first love: I gave up on my boyfriend, who I shouldn't have given up on. I was young. I was 20. I was too young to get married. As time goes by you learn.

On what she is looking for in her next relationship: I'm really looking for a boyfriend, but the more you look, the less you get. I'm letting it happen. I want to find a boy that rocks my world. Someone who gives me butterflies, in that way of being sweet.

On Will Smith, her co-star in I AM Legend: He's phenomenal. He's the kind of guy who deserves so much of what he has. He works really hard every day of his life. He's really generous. It's so inspiring. "There's no such thing as luck," is what he taught me. "Keep going, keep searching, keep trying."

On her mantra for life: If you have pleasure, it shouldn't make you feel guilty. That's the best thing in life. Don't feel guilty.