In her first-ever Super Bowl ad, Winona Ryder is going back to where it all began — where she began, actually: Winona, Minnesota.
The Stranger Things star, 48, is starring in Squarespace’s sixth Super Bowl commercial, which takes the actress up north to the city where she was born to create a website, welcometowinona.com, about the town and its people.
“To have a commercial that showcases Winona is really cool, and the idea is to empower small businesses and drive that message to every smaller town or city,” Ryder tells PEOPLE. “It was an exciting way to feature Winona, and I thought it was such a good idea, a really good concept.”
Ryder was born in the city of 28,000 — southeast of Minneapolis, just across the border from Wisconsin — as her parents were passing through en route to Northern California in 1971.
“My mom was in a laundromat and saw a pamphlet about the ‘legend of Winona,’ a Native American girl the town was named for. She bent over to pick it up and she went into labor and that’s how I got my name,” Ryder says. “The laundromat is gone now but I got to see where it was.”
Ryder, who enjoys photography when she’s not busy acting, spent a week in Winona, snapping the city’s sights and people for a book of images that will be sold through her site made with Squarespace — an all-in-one platform to build your online presence — with proceeds benefiting charity.
“It’s one of those interesting towns that in one way it feels like it could be Anywhere, U.S.A., but at the same time it’s completely unique to itself,” she explains. “There was a crafts fair going on when I was there, and everyone was just so nice — it’s a cliché but it’s just that incredibly friendly Minnesota atmosphere and vibe. I really appreciated how the locals were to us — it just fueled my own excitement for being back there.”
Though she’s pumped about her spot, Ryder might not even watch it.
“I’m not really a football person,” she admits. “It’s a groundbreaking year, with Katie Sowers being the first female, openly gay coach in the Super Bowl, and since I grew up near San Francisco I have family members who are quite excited, but when I watch it hurts me physically. I get kicked out of the room because it looks so painful that I physically make noises!”