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October 10, 2016 4:12 PM EDT

Kristen Stewart may keep her personal life private, but she’s not hiding.

As one of the eight stars featured in Elle magazine’s “Women in Hollywood” issue, the 26-year-old actress is setting the record straight about her love life.

“I’m not ashamed and I’m not confused,” she said. “Things have changed. And not just with me — we’re really allowed to encourage this new acceptance to develop and be awesome.”

The Twilight alum revealed for the first time that she’s had an on-again, off-again girlfriend, film producer Alicia Cargile, in a July interview for Elle UK. The couple were last spotted together in August, when they grabbed a casual lunch in Los Angeles.

In an August interview with The New York Times Style Magazine, Stewart spoke about the excessive media attention surrounding her relationship with her Twilight costar Robert Pattinson, which ultimately led to their breakup.

“People wanted me and Rob to be together so badly that our relationship was made into a product,” she said. “It wasn’t real life anymore. And that was gross to me. It’s not that I want to hide who I am or hide anything I’m doing in my life. It’s that I don’t want to become a part of a story for entertainment value.”

Stewart said she’s more willing to talk about her relationship with Cargile because of the positive message of acceptance it represents.

“I would never talk about any of my relationships before, but once I started dating girls it seemed like there was an opportunity to represent something really positive,” she explained. “I still want to protect my personal life, but I don’t want to seem like I’m protecting the idea, so that does sort of feel like I owe something to people.”

Professionally, things are going great for Stewart as well.

In a Monday appearance on Today, she discussed getting behind the camera to direct her first short film, Come Swim.

“I’ve never been happier,” she gushed. “I love acting, I don’t think there’s like a huge distinction between the two for me. So, yeah, I found like my next level and like [I’m] ready to go.”

Stewart is also starring is a slew of movies hitting theaters this year. In Certain Women, she plays a lawyer who unexpectedly bonds with a student when she teaches a night course. Stewart called the plot “painful,” as the two women struggle to relate.

“The two characters that you see there are making a serious misconnection,” she explained. “You’re watching two people have completely separate conversations, and there’s something really painful about that.”

Certain Women hits theaters on Friday.

This article originally appeared on People.com

Contact us at letters@time.com.

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