The former Hollyoaks star told The Sun that she had travelled to the US in order to boost her industry credentials.
Atkinson said: "I am not doing any shoots this year. I finished Hollyoaks, which was amazing, but I don't want to do soap again - I want the next step up.
"You can't just expect to have done a Channel 4 soap and become a movie star, so I have had to start all over again."
She added: "I made a decision to take a year out from the modelling. I wanted to audition and take acting classes - I want to start afresh.
"I have been coming down to London to meet with my acting coach and to have elocution lessons. Then I went to the States and worked over there.
"I think the lads' mags might have been a bit disappointed. I will still do my calendar, which is different, as it's my own styling, my own team."