It’s been quite a year or two for 22-year-old Shailene Woodley, who can’t be pigeonholed given her eclectic career choices and her ability to succesfully inhabit both indies and studio fare.
Woodley, who is receiving Variety’s Indie Impact Award on Nov. 15 at the Napa Valley Film Festival, could be seen in leading two of this year’s biggest hits: “Divergent” and “The Fault in Our Stars,” which gets a special screening at Napa Valley Film Festival. She also drew raves for James Ponsoldt’s 2013 Sundance hit “The Spectacular Now” and Gregg Araki’s “White Bird in a Blizzard.”
“I was immediately drawn to ‘Fault’ based on its universal messages, its intrinsic healing capabilities,” she says. “It opened my eyes to a new way of living, a way that embraces each moment, and recognizes that it is not what we do with our lives in the end, but how we interacted with others while alive.”
Moving between indies and studio pics has proved to be a canny career strategy for the star, who says she has “a deep appreciation and love” for independent films because “for the most part, they feel like the basic art of cinema is being honored. On indies, if one person from the team went missing, the entire project would fall apart. No one is there to make money, or to receive accolades in the form of glamour and glitz. I also love that everyone is treated as like an equal. Everyone is just as vital to the eventual outcome — whether you are a producer, a caterer, an actor, a gaffer or a teamster.”
The star relies heavily on her gut feeling when it comes to choosing which roles and projects to pursue.
“My intuition either signals butterflies to explode in my stomach, or not,” she says. “Sometimes you want to love a particular character, or you want to be a part of a project based on elements such as the director or fellow actors, but if the basic butterflies don’t exist, then chances are someone else is better suited for that film and I wish them well.”
But it’s been no overnight success for the L.A. native, who starred in the ABC Family series “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” for five years. “I started off doing commercials and TV when I was just 5 and it took me 15 years to get to ‘The Descendants.’ ”
She’s a showbiz vet, but is there any other career she would have loved to have tackled?
“Yes!,” she enthuses. “Massage therapy, psychology and all things culinary are all interests of mine and ones I could absolutely see myself tackling and being quite good at it too!”