When Rebel Wilson visited her fertility doctor in 2019, he said she'd have a much better chance of harvesting and freezing her eggs if she lost weight. "He looked me up and down and said, 'You'd do much better if you were healthier,' " the actress tells PEOPLE.
"I was taken aback. I thought, 'Oh God, this's guy's so rude.' He was right. I was carrying around a lot of excess weight. It's almost like I didn't think of my own needs. I thought of a future child's needs that really inspired me to get healthier."
The actress, who also has polycystic ovarian syndrome which can affect fertility, embarked on a "year of health" in 2020 and eventually lost over 80 lbs. "It wasn't a goal to get to a certain weight," she says. "It was just being the healthiest version of myself."
Now starring in Senior Year, one of Netflix's top ten films, the 42-year-old actress opens up in this week's PEOPLE about her fertility journey, "emotional eating" and learning to truly value herself. As it turns out, Wilson's transformation was about much more than weight.
"It was about dealing with the emotional issues that caused me to emotionally eat, and that's a process," she says. "You cry a lot, analyze things. I'd never done that before. It's really hard to know why you don't feel worthy when people look at my life on paper and say you've done all these amazing things. That's what I'm trying to overcome."
Throughout her career, Wilson has always been an advocate for body positivity. "Fat Amy was probably the most favorite character I've ever played," she says. "I loved representing and I was so confident. But at the same time, I did feel at times insecure. Sometimes it's hard doing a photo shoot next to your fellow actress and she's a third of the size of you."
Watch the full episode of People Cover Story: Rebel Wilson on PeopleTV.com or on the PeopleTV app.
"I was invisible in a way even when I was an international movie star," she says. "And then suddenly to have people want to carry your groceries, do nice things for you purely because of how you look, it's interesting."
"I know what it's like to be on the other side of that coin," she explains. "And now I know what's it's like to get attention in the positive. There is a societal bias towards what society deems as good-looking. It's not right. It sucks, it's unfair. I feel sad if somebody doesn't love the body they're in. You want to celebrate all body types but I also want to encourage people to be healthy."
She also wants her films to have a positive impact, as she begins to do more producing and directing. "I want to bring the comedy, all the hilariousness, but also bring the heart and the positive messages," she says.
The result can be seen in her latest film, Senior Year, in which her character falls into a 20-year coma after a cheerleading accident, wakes up as a 37-year-old, ready to redo her senior year and finds out "being your authentic real self is what matters." And that could describe her story as well.
For more on Rebel Wilson, pick up a copy of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
An optimist at heart, she says, "I would love to have a family. I'm just going for it by myself at the moment because of the biological clock. If I meet the right person, great, and then they can fit in with whatever happens. It's great that the technology exists. You have so many options with surrogacy and sperm donors. I only started thinking of fertility when I was 39 so you feel quite late but then there are women in their mid-40s who've been successful. Look at Janet Jackson, it's pretty inspiring."
"Any woman who's gone through it, I really relate to," she says. "It's been an emotional rollercoaster. I don't know how it's going to end. But I'm still young enough to try."