Shailene Woodley

Shailene Woodley Biography

Film Actor/Film Actress(1991–)
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 HBO's 'Big Little Lies.'

Who Is Shailene Woodley?

Born in 1991 in California, 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 acclaimed performances in The Descendants (2011), Divergent (2014), The Fault in Our Stars (2014) and Big Little Lies (2017). The actress is also a noted environmentalist and political activist, making headlines in 2016 for her arrest while protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. 

Early Acting Career, 'The Secret Life of the American Teenager'

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.

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.

Movie Star: 'The Descendants,' 'Divergent' Franchise

While still starring on Secret Life, Shailene 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.

After starring in a pair of indie features, The Spectacular Now (2013) and White Bird in a Blizzard (2014), Woodley hit the big time with Divergent (2014). 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. The actress then did an about-face with The Fault in Our Stars (2014), playing a character afflicted with cancer who falls in love with another terminally ill patient. Both films enjoyed major box-office success, establishing Woodley as one of the industry's top young talents.

Woodley reprised the character of Tris for Divergent's popular sequels, Insurgent (2015) and Allegiant (2016). 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. 

HBO's 'Big Little Lies'

The acclaimed actress made an even bigger impression in 2017 with the Emmy Award-winning HBO limited series Big Little Lies, which was adapted from 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. For her role, Woodley was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe as a supporting actress. The seven-episode series was written by David E. Kelley and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée. 

Political Activism 

After developing an interest in health and environmentalism while in high school, Shailene 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.

 "I believe that life is about the importance of reconnecting to our roots and living." - Shailene Woodley

In 2016, the actress was a vocal supporter of Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders and would join 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.

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