Rag & Bone trenchcoat; Dolce & Gabbana bra and briefs.

Three years ago, Sofia Boutella found herself at a turning point—in front of an audience of millions. A dancer in videos for Michael Jackson and Rihanna, Boutella performed during the 2012 Super Bowl halftime show onstage with Madonna. Immediately afterward, she retired. “I stopped dancing without any backup plan whatsoever,” says Boutella, 32, who wanted to devote herself to acting. Even Madge asked her, “What if you can’t find work?”

It wasn’t easy. “I don’t fit in any box,” explains the French-Algerian beauty, who speaks with a Continental lilt. “People don’t know if I’m Indian, half-white, half-black. Sometimes they think I’m Brazilian!” But her chameleonic looks—and possibly her dance moves—helped secure her breakout role opposite Colin Firth in the action caper Kingsman: The Secret Service, out now. She plays Gazelle, one half of a villainous team with Samuel L. Jackson. As a double amputee, Gazelle uses her leg blades with elegant and deadly force. “She’s turned her handicap into an asset,” Boutella says. “She’s resilient—as am I.”