Credit: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

Jessica Biel plays an introverted Ashtanga yoga instructor named May, whose eyes open to some of the world’s harsher realities when she discovers her half-sister (Zosia Mamet), in the new indie Bleeding Heart. The sister is living with an abusive boyfriend and engaged as a sex worker — and the film charts May’s journey over the course of a week to comprehend her sister’s dire situation. And to do something about it.

Biel tells EW that she could relate to her character’s awakening, especially since the actress is herself an advocate for women’s right and other causes. “Obviously, we all feel a lot of things all the time, everyday,” she says. “But I try to be careful on subjects where I’m not an expert necessarily, whether it’s political or economical or social. But for the things I know something about, yeah, I want to stand up and hopefully use my voice to help.”

In the exclusive scene above, which is from earlier in the movie, May is timidly asking her sister about her line of work. “May has this sense of, ‘If I can understand who this other person is, then maybe I can understand myself a little bit more,'” says Biel. “So she’s probing very gently, even though she knows the answer. She’s trying very had not to have an opinion and to not pass judgment and to be diplomatic.”

But as the scene progresses, May is disarmed and curiously enlivened by her sister’s straight talk. “You can see May start to become a little more at ease with the real world,” Biel adds. “You start to see her open up.”

Bleeding Heart opens in select cities Dec. 11. It is also available on VOD.