PAS­SION TO BE­ING HER­SELF

Young Hol­ly­wood actress Shai­lene Wood­ley, who is the star of the Diver­gent se­ries, has a pen­chant for the hippy life and women’s rights

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES - TIF­FANY BAKKER

In an in­dus­try where ev­ery sec­ond of an ac­tor’s ca­reer and im­age is man­aged right down to the last de­tail, Shai­lene Wood­ley is some­thing of a rare en­tity – she has ab­so­lutely no game plan at all.

“For me, it’s al­ways about in­stinct,” the LA-based actress says, kick­ing back at a Bev­erly Hills ho­tel.

“One of the things about art is you can’t re­ally have a plan be­cause it’s not like it can be ‘well, this year I want to do a com­edy and next year I want to do a dark drama’ be­cause who knows if those scripts will be around, and what if they’re crap? If I don’t find a script I like for five years, then I don’t mind not work­ing for five years be­cause it has to al­ways come from a place of pas­sion.”

Wood­ley may be just 23, but her strong sense of self is im­pos­ing.

“I’ve al­ways em­braced who I am,” she says. “Hav­ing said that, I think in­se­cu­ri­ties keep you hum­ble and keep you aware of your own per­cep­tion of self. I think it’s about how you choose to han­dle them.”

It’s been well doc­u­mented that she’s a to­tal hippy. She al­ways starts each in­ter­view with a hug to “cut the bullsh--” and to­day she is feel­ing “golden” and “groovy”.

She brushes her teeth in clay, makes her own de­odor­ant and whips up home­made medicines.

“She’s just her – she’s re­lat­able,” says Ansel El­gort, who’s starred along­side Wood­ley in both Diver­gent films and teen weepy The Fault In Our Stars.

“What you see is what you get and I think that’s part of her pop­u­lar­ity, with young women es­pe­cially. They know that she is just be­ing her­self and they think, well if she can I can too.”

Wood­ley’s ca­pac­ity to be her­self has made her one of the most dy­namic young ac­tors in Hol­ly­wood.

Her break­out per­for­mance came as Ge­orge Clooney’s moody daugh­ter in The Descen­dants, which she fol­lowed with a crack­ing per­for­mance as a so­cial out­cast in The Spec­tac­u­lar Now and later as a teen living with can­cer in The Fault In Our Stars.

But she re­ally upped the ante by tak­ing on the role of the feisty Tris in the Diver­gent se­ries, based on the YA nov­els by Veron­ica Roth.

Wood­ley is proud of Diver­gent and the lat­est in the se­ries In­sur­gent be­cause she be­lieves the films send out a pos­i­tive mes­sage to young women.

“I think Tris has peo­ple try­ing to in­flu­ence her and change her per­spec­tive about how she should ac­com­plish her goal,” says Wood­ley.

“At the end of the day she lis­tens, but she honours her­self and her own in­tegrity and I think that’s a pretty groovy mes­sage to be send­ing out there to girls.”

In the film, Wood­ley’s Tris is again pit­ted against Kate Winslet’s ma­nip­u­la­tive and vaguely men­ac­ing Jea­nine. This time around, Naomi Watts also joins the cast as Four’s (Theo James) mys­te­ri­ous mother.

Wood­ley says that work­ing with the two ac­claimed ac­tresses was in­valu­able train­ing.

“I think I learned the most from them by just ob­serv­ing,” she says.

“Kate is some­one who has done a lot of movies and is a mas­sive star, but she walks on to a film set and she’s still like, ‘Oh my God, it’s a light! There’s a cam­era!’ And she’s so ex­cited about life and she’s so en­thu­si­as­tic about the process of film­mak­ing that it’s con­ta­gious.”

Wood­ley says it makes her crazy how women are so of­ten pit­ted against each other, par­tic­u­larly in Hol­ly­wood.

“There’s re­ally a lot of power that can come from women who can sup­port other women and not feel envy to­wards their sit­u­a­tions,” she says.

“And that’s what’s re­ally go­ing to start to shift things in the way that we see women in the world – is women sup­port­ing and be­ing pil­lars for other women.”

As for the com­monly held be­lief in Hol­ly­wood that women can’t open ma­jor stu­dio films, Wood­ley scoffs.

“Men want to see women at the fore­front of movies be­cause women are babes and it’s fun to watch women be hot, and it’s fun to watch women be vul­ner­a­ble and be weak,” she says.

“In the same way that it’s just as ex­cit­ing to watch a man be strong and watch a man be weak, be­cause we’re all hu­man and we’re all mul­ti­fac­eted.”

Tris (Shai­lene Wood­ley) and Jea­nine (Kate Winslet) in a scene from

In­sur­gent,

di­rected by Robert Sch­wen­tke.

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