Shailene Woodley: ‘Scary Physical Situation’ Made Me Step Back From Career


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A true reflection. Shailene Woodley revealed that a frightening health issue caused her to take a step back from her career in the midst of her Divergent success.

The 28-year-old actress opened up about the illness that impacted her life during the filming of the sci-fi series in an interview with The New York Times on Friday, April 10.

“I haven’t spoken much about this yet publicly, and I will one day, but I was very, very sick in my early 20s,” she shared. “While I was doing the Divergent movies and working hard, I also was struggling with a deeply personal, very scary physical situation.”

Woodley did not disclose the particulars of her health scare but did reveal that it caused her to turn down offers following her appearance in Divergent. She starred as Beatrice Prior in the series from 2014 to 2016.

“Because of that, I said no to a lot of opportunities because I needed to get better, and those jobs ended up going to peers of mine who I love,” she continued. “They went on to a lot of success, but there was a mix of people saying, ‘You shouldn’t have let that go!’ or ‘You shouldn’t have been sick!’”

The Fault in Our Stars actress said that the experience caused her to doubt herself and her abilities, in addition to worrying about her health.

“That was combined with my own internal process of, ‘Am I going to survive what I’m going through right now and ever be healthy, or even have the opportunity to work on projects I’m passionate about again because of the situation I’m in?’” she added.

Her position in life at the time caused her to “just surrender and let go of my career” while fighting a “negative voice in my mind that kept spinning for years and years afterward.”

Luckily, Woodley has able to bounce back from that dark time in her life. The Secret Life of the American Teenager actress landed a starring role on HBO’s Big Little Lies in 2017, which led to Golden Globe and Emmy award nominations.

“Now I’m on the other side of it, thank God,” Woodley explained. “A lot of the last few years has been about focusing on mental health for me, and it’s a slow process. But because of that work, I feel very grounded and rooted in who I am and very clear about everything in my life, whether it’s my career or my relationships or my own internal worth.”

She concluded, “I feel very grateful to have walked that line of fire, because now I know what I don’t want to ever go back to.”

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