Shailene Woodley became a household name while starring on The Secret Life of the American Teenager, but she didn’t exactly have the best experience working on the show.
“When I signed onto Secret Life, I read [three] episodes and I signed a contract for six years,” the actress, 28, said in a new interview with Bustle. “[Those episodes] all hit home. I had friends in high school who were pregnant. It felt like everything that I wanted to be sending into the world.”
However, in the later seasons of the teen drama, Woodley noticed that her character Amy Juergens’ pregnancy story line became a cautionary tale while abstinence was stressed.
“There were a lot of things that were written into the scripts that not just me, but a lot of the cast, disagreed with,” she recalled to the website. “There were belief systems that were pushed that were different than my own. Yet legally I was stuck there. To this day it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. So being on Secret Life propelled me to be more vocal about my own belief systems.”
After the five-season ABC Family series wrapped in 2013, the San Bernardino, California, native broke into the film world. She had already starred in 2011’s The Descendants by that time (and scored a Golden Globe nomination for her role in the George Clooney-led flick), but she picked up more big-screen gigs in the years that followed, including 2014’s Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars.
Woodley took a nearly yearlong break from acting before returning to TV in 2017, when she starred in Big Little Lies opposite Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. To play sexual assault survivor Jane Chapman in the HBO series, the activist drew on her past unhealthy relationships.
“I have had very traumatic sexual experiences,” she told Bustle. “I translate[d] my personal trauma into what she was experiencing in the best way that I knew.”
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