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Shailene Woodley
Photo: Michael Stewart/Getty Images

Shailene Woodley

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American actress Shailene Woodley garnered acclaim for her supporting role in 'The Descendants,' and went on to star in the dystopian 'Divergent' film series and the hit TV show 'Big Little Lies.'

Who Is Shailene Woodley?

Actress Shailene Woodley began compiling television credits at an early age. She enjoyed her first major role with the 2008 debut of The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and became known to a wider audience through her performances in The Descendants, Divergent and its sequels and The Fault in Our Stars. Woodley went on to a featured role in Big Little Lies, for which she garnered Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. The actress is also a noted environmentalist and political activist who made headlines in 2016 for her arrest while protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. 

Early Years and Career

Shailene Diann Woodley was born on November 15, 1991, in San Bernadino, California. The daughter of two psychologists, she began modeling as a four year-old. By age five, she was taking her first acting classes. She and her younger brother, Tanner, grew up in Simi Valley.

The young actress made her screen debut in the TV movie Replacing Dad (1999), alongside Tippi Hedren. She went on to appear on such programs as The District, Crossing Jordan and The O.C., and continued to attend auditions as a teenager despite being diagnosed with scoliosis.

Movies and TV Shows 

'The Secret Life of the American Teenager'

During her junior year at Simi Valley High School, Woodley was tapped for the starring role of Amy Juergens on The Secret Life of the American Teenager. A hit drama about an ambitious student who finds her life upended by pregnancy and then motherhood, the show aired for five seasons, until wrapping in June 2013.

'The Descendants'

While still starring on Secret Life, Woodley landed the part that introduced her to a wider audience. As George Clooney's daughter in The Descendants (2011), she drew strong praise for portraying a teenager forced to confront adult issues amid family struggles, garnering a Golden Globe nomination.

'Divergent' Franchise

Woodley hit the big time in 2014 with Divergent, an adaptation of Veronica Roth's young adult novel. Divergent featured Woodley in the role of Tris, a gifted teen who foils the machinations of an evil government faction. Its box-office success paved the way for Woodley to reprise the role in the sequels Insurgent (2015) and Allegiant (2016). 

'The Spectacular Now,' 'The Fault in Our Stars,' 'Snowden'

Around the time she was transitioning to the face of the Divergent series, Woodley starred in the indie features The Spectacular Now (2013) and White Bird in a Blizzard (2014). She also enjoyed a celebrated turn in the tear-jerker The Fault in Our Stars (2014), playing a character afflicted with cancer who falls in love with another terminally ill patient. Moving away from the young adult genre, she embraced a weightier role in Snowden (2016), playing the girlfriend of the former CIA employee charged with leaking classified information. 

'Big Little Lies'

The actress made an even bigger impression in 2017 with the award-winning TV series Big Little Lies, an adaptation of Australian author Liane Moriarty's novel of the same name. As part of an A-list ensemble cast that includes Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Laura Dern, Woodley plays young single mom Jane Chapman, whose dark past brings her to the affluent California beachfront community of Monterey, where a murder mystery ensues. 

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LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 09: Actress Irene Bedard attends the premiere of Vox Box Entertainment's "Ron and Laura Take Back America" at Sundance Cinema on March 9, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images)

Irene Bedard

Joy Harjo, writer during 2005 Sundance Film Festival - "A Thousand Roads" Portraits at HP Portrait Studio in Park City, Utah, United States. (Photo by J. Vespa/WireImage)

Joy Harjo

For her role, Woodley was nominated for Emmy and Golden Globe awards as a supporting actress. The seven-episode series was written by David E. Kelley and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée. With its huge success, the show was given a second season, which debuted in June 2019.

'Adrift,' 'Endings, Beginnings'

Between the first two seasons of Big Little Lies, Woodley starred in the oceanic thriller Adrift (2018), directed by Baltasar Kormákur and co-starring Sam Claflin. The actress next joined Jamie Dornan and Sebastian Stan for the romantic drama Endings, Beginnings, which premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.

Political Activism 

After developing an interest in health and environmentalism while in high school, Woodley began creating her own homemade products, including deodorant and toothpaste.

Additionally, Woodley has been involved in activist causes since high school. Along with her mother, she founded the charity All It Takes, which seeks to develop young leaders by promoting compassion and providing education on matters of environmentalism and sustainability.

In 2016, the actress was a vocal supporter of Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders and joined the board of his Our Revolution political organization. Later in the year she made headlines as one of the protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline, drawing attention to the cause through a live Facebook stream that captured her arrest in October.

Named a Greenpeace Oceans Ambassador in 2019, Woodley took part in an expedition to the Sargasso Sea that summer to research microplastics and micropollution.

Personal Life

In February 2021, it was reported that Woodley was dating NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Later that month, Woodley confirmed their engagement.

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