Sitting pretty, Mickey Sumner glides on to the big screen this spring.

It surprised even Mickey Sumner herself that she became an actress. “I was a very shy kid and sort of academic,” says Sumner, who this month stars in Missed Connections, a quintessential New York movie about twentysomethings hunting for love using a Craigslist-like website. The film afforded her the chance to film in classic Manhattan locations such as the Chrysler Building and Central Park. “It just felt so iconic; it was really exciting for me,” she says of the shoot.

In May, Sumner will be seen in another starring role in Oscar nominee Noah Baumbach’s latest film, Frances Ha. “It’s sort of a love story between two friends,” says Sumner of the project, which also gave her the opportunity to work with friend and fellow actress Greta Gerwig (Lola Versus). “She’s been so great and such a rock for me.”

The 29-year-old is also set to tackle the role of Patti Smith in the upcoming film CBGB. “I was on a major high during the shoot, but the preparation leading up to it was pretty terrifying,” says Sumner, who studied hours of YouTube footage and practiced singing in front of a mirror to channel the punk rock icon. “I idolize her; I just really didn’t want to do a bad job. I had to realize that I wasn’t going to be exactly like her, but I could have an essence of her. My own version of Patti Smith.”

Regardless of Sumner’s rapidly expanding résumé, her original career goals were in fine arts, not film. “When I got here, all these kids were telling me their dreams,” says Sumner, who moved to New York from England to study fine arts at Parsons The New School for Design. “It’s very un-English; people [there] are just not very open about their aspirations, [but] it was so inspiring. I felt really encouraged. I think I always had the secret desire to [act], but I just didn’t have the confidence in myself. I grew up in an entertainment family; I was just really embarrassed that I wanted to act, for some reason.”

The daughter of Sting and Trudie Styler, Sumner’s first shot at acting was for none other than Jennifer Aniston, who was directing a short film for Glamour magazine. “That was my first audition ever, and it was for her,” Sumner says. “I didn’t get it, [but] she told me to keep going.”

Her persistence has paid off, as 2013 is set to be a banner year. “I would like to be at a place where I’m continuously working,” Sumner says, “that is my goal in five years.”

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