By Chancellor Agard
April 25, 2017 at 02:00 PM EDT
Jeong Park/Fox Searchlight

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Newcomer Danielle Macdonald wowed Sundance audiences with her self-assured portrayal of Patricia Dombrowski, an aspiring rapper from a dilapidated New Jersey town, in Geremy Jasper’s directorial debut, Patti Cake$.

However, that swagger took time, because the role required the Australian actress to learn not only how to rap in a Jersey accent but also how to perform. “I really understood [the character], but I didn’t know how to physically be her,” says Macdonald, who studied rap with Brooklyn-based performer Skyzoo. “He just got me out of my head and helped me find how I move to the rhythm of it. A lot of it was just finding the confidence.”

Jersey Strong forever.

Patti Cake$ — which also stars Bridget Everett and Cathy Moriarty — hits theaters July 7.