Being in the spotlight is hard, and growing up in the spotlight is even harder. For decades young celebrities have struggled with transitioning t from juvenile fame to matured success. For every Leonardo DiCaprio who makes his way from teen heartthrob to Academy Award nominee, there’s a Justin Bieber who racks up a criminal record before he can legally put a glass of alcohol to his lips. For every Reese Witherspoon who transitions from a little girl acting in films to a busy mother and producer, there’s an Amanda Bynes who can’t handle the pressure of fame. Some kids can’t handle it. But Shailene Woodley can.
At 22, Woodley can hardly be called a kid. She’s young, but her accomplishments outweigh her other young Hollywood counterparts, with roles alongside George Clooney in The Descendants and the lead role in Divergent, a film that is expected to reach success levels of Hunger Games proportions. Before these big roles Woodley became recognized on the ABC Family show The Secret Life of the American Teenager. The show dealt with a group of high school students and focused on Woodley’s character’s teen pregnancy. After the show ended, Woodley pursued film roles. After The Descendants, she starred in The Spectacular Now with Miles Teller. Audiences can also see her this summer in The Fault In Our Stars, a film based on the succesful book by young adult novelist John Green.
Although you’ll see her on the big screen after getting her makeup and hair done, Woodley is drawn to roles with characters with personalities that are more than skin deep. In her feature in Teen Vogue she explains her appreciation for the relationship between her character in Divergent, Tris, and her love interest, Four. “I was so pleased by a relationship that was built on values of respect and communication versus pure physical attraction,” she said.
Woodley also took on another young adult book and movie franchise in her feature and criticized its way of conveying young relationships. “Twilight, I’m sorry, is about a very unhealthy, toxic relationship,” she said. “She falls in love with this guy, and the second he leaves her, her life is over and she’s going to kill herself! What message are we sending to young people? That is not going to help this world evolve.”
With the guts to openly combat a successful franchise and the grace to pull it off, Woodley is sure to be lighting up the big screen for years to come. Hollywood needs help answering the question of how to perfect the evolution from teen star to serious actor. Woodley and her refreshing perspective on life could be its answer.