If you went to the movies this summer, it is likely that you saw 22-year-old Shailene Woodley making an appearance on the big screen. With leading roles in popular films like “The Descendants,” “Divergent” and most recently, “The Fault in Our Stars,” she has thrilled audiences with her realistic and heartfelt portrayals of complex characters in a variety of genres.
Born in 1991 in Simi Valley, California, Woodley has been doing commercial modeling since the age of four. In 2008, she took on her first major acting role as lead character Amy Juergens in ABC Family’s “Secret Life of the American Teenager”. The show received mixed reviews from critics but broke a record for ABC Family’s highest rated series in its first season.
Woodley has received acclaim for many of her television and film performances, including a 2012 Independent Spirit award and a Golden Globe nomination for her supporting role in “The Descendants”.
The Fault in Our Stars (TFIOS), which hit theatres this June, is one of her most well-received performances. One critic went as far as to call it the next “The Notebook”.
In “TFIOS,” Woodley plays Hazel Grace, a 17-year-old with terminal cancer who becomes smitten with the witty, defiant and loveable Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) who she meets in a cancer support group.
Woodley co-starred with 20-year-old Ansel Elgort in both “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Divergent” (March 2014). In 2014, Woodley and Elgort won a Young Hollywood Award for best onscreen couple. The two are becoming well-known for their exceptional chemistry on-set, and are booked for roles in upcoming Divergent sequels as siblings Tris and Caleb Prior.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Elgort said he was “thrilled” that he would be spending the next four years on set with Woodley as they film the next three Divergent sequels.
“There’s something really beautiful about working with someone and working with them again and again and again because the more you get to know somebody on a personal level, the more free you feel artistically,” Woodley said in the same interview.
Woodley has played a wide variety of characters over the last few years, from George Clooney’s troubled daughter, to a pregnant teenager to a likeable girl with a terminal illness and a caustic wit.
Her ability to get into the minds of the characters she plays is the secret to her authentic character portrayals, according to many she has worked with. Before she was cast for “TFIOS,” for instance, she was a huge fan of the novel, and her enthusiasm was apparent to John Green in her audition.
“She auditioned for ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ not because she needs the part, but because she loves the book,” John Green wrote on his blog about Woodley. “Her depth of understanding was immediately obvious in the audition and for me there could be no one else to play Hazel.”
Woodley’s talents extend beyond romantic comedies, as she took home a surfboard award for best actress in an action movie for her role in “Divergent” at the 2014 Teen Choice Awards on August 10.
Though many of the movies and television series she stars in are aimed at a teenage demographic, Woodley’s flexibility and ability to empathize with the characters she plays has yielded her a more diverse fan following.
With an excellent reception so far and contracts with several movies currently in the making, it does not look like Woodley will be leaving the big screen anytime soon.