Monday, April 6, 2015

Wonder Women: Shailene Woodley

Shailene Woodley actress profile
The young adult fandom is vast and growing, and there are a number of young stars moving up in Hollywood's ranks. While it's hard for many to pave roles in projects outside of their television or movie franchise, Shailene Woodley is a leading lady paving a path for young adult stars.

Despite her rising popularity status for starring in films like Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars, Shailene Woodley got an early start in show business As the central character in ABC Family's The Secret Life of an American Teenager, it could be said that my fandom for her started there. However, having never watched the show's episodes in their entirety, I might have seen clips of her characters' scenes on The Soup (an E!  television clip show that pokes fun at Hollywood's best and worst entertainment moments). Throwing teenagers into one cliche debacle after another was often how the show was regarded, Woodley came through the show's five-year running, she seemed to jump on everyone's radar in The Descendants.

For her first major film role, Woodley stood out as George Clooney's rebellious conflicted teenager who helps him track down her mother's lover. At first glance, she seems unabashedly outspoken and explosively reacting off of her father's guidance. Her insecurities are slowly unmasked as she replaces her mother as a maternal figure to her younger sister. During the award show season, Woodley gained momentum among the indie crowd earning Golden Globe nominations and a win at Independent Spirit Award. It was hard not to miss her as a young starlet to watch out for. Now three years later, her on-screen talent and off-screen personality are making monumental waves on me and Hollywood.

In The Spectacular Now (2013), Woodley stars alongside Mike Teller in about a young man floating through life and relationships. Sutter Keely (Teller) is not a slacker but numbs the pain of his father's abandonment with alcoholism and keeping up appearances in the cool crowd since his football days are long gone. As Aimee Finicky, Woodley is just a normal girl who falls in love with Keely. Their crises guide them through painful circumstances and courageously putting themselves first.

The best of the movie is in the performances themselves. Teller creates a complicated protagonist whose life is tied up in his abandoned father's ambition to live in the present moment, but he's not particularly motivated in school or life. Woodley, whose Finicky is confined by her mother's dependence, exudes patience, enthusiasm, and apprehension. Together, their performances are stellar, but perhaps more so for Woodley and her budding career in the genre.

For the time being as Woodley respectably portrays young women in a variety of dramas, her characters are significantly unique. Similar to her portrayal as Beatrice Prior in the big YA phenomenon Divergent (another female character trying to brave the storms of life and love), Woodley's characters are all young at heart but aren't cut from the same YA cloth. As she grows up on-screen as in real life, I'm excited to see where her talent leads her career from big blockbusters to the independent genre.

Perhaps most of all, I admire Woodley's candor and off-screen personality. Similarly to how much I could listen to Matthew McConaughey talk all day long, Woodley shares her interests beyond acting openly and passionately. It seems rare with young stars today to hear them share anything beyond one or two adjectives let alone some of their personal interests or their movie career with bold confidence and enthusiasm. Both aspects Woodley seems to be all the time.

Her easygoing personality makes it easy to listen her press rounds and read in-depth interviews. Often calling herself a "hippy dippy", Woodley stands by her organic lifestyle and her causes of being more environmentally friendly. Showing up on the red carpet with organic or without make-up, gathering her own water from springs and adapting a paleolithic diet to her life, she doesn't forcefully encourage people to follow her lifestyle but freely shares what she does. As someone who has always followed an organic lifestyle, it's refreshing to see a star follow through with her claims of loving nature and the environment, and not skimp out from photoshoot to red carpet event on her beliefs. Her frank nature doesn't necessarily mean the more personal a star is the more relatable or likeable I'll find him/her - I just like how she isn't afraid to let her free spirit flag fly.

Whether on the big carpet wearing gowns and sporting natural make-up, or hanging out at press conferences, Woodley seems to mix in every situation. Optimistic and happy-go-lucky, Woodley hangs out happily being in the moment. In a world where people are so cynical and judgmental, Woodley is down-to-earth. Bohemian and chic, she holds no expectations against others and holds no plans for the future - what will be, will be. In Woodley's own words, that's just rad and bad-ass.

Does Shailene Woodley inspire you? What's your favorite role of hers so far?

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