Why is Shailene Woodley In Everything? The MTV Movie Award Presenter Is a Hot Commodity
Hollywood's latest "it" girl will be attending this weekend's biggest TV event as a triple threat: Shailene Woodley is an MTV Movie Awards presenter, a nominee, and a former winner. But just a few short years ago, if anyone knew who she was, it was as "the girl from that ABC Family show." Starting in 2008, she starred for five season as Amy Juergens on The Secret Life of the American Teenager, a poorly-reviewed but high-rated drama about a pregnant teen. Before that, she appeared regularly in guest stints on such procedurals as Cold Case, CSI: NY, and Without a Trace. But her relative anonymity changed forever in 2011 when she co-starred in an Oscar-nominated film alongside another former TV soap star (and George Clooney).
Woodley's role as Clooney's daughter in Alexander Payne's The Descendants garnered her rave reviews, a Golden Globe nomination, and and an MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance — not to mention her pick of future projects. She ventured briefly into indie (starring alongside Eva Green, Christopher Meloni, and Angela Bassett in Gregg Araki's White Bird in a Blizzard, which just premiered at Sundance this year), before planting her feet firmly in young adult territory. All three of her most recent films are adaptations of popular YA novels: the coming-of-age drama The Spectacular Now, the dystopian action flick Divergent, and the upcoming cancer romance The Fault In Our Stars .
Granted, starring in a YA film adaptation isn't always a surefire path to success. Just ask Alice Englert, Lily Collins or Zoey Deutch. Who, you ask? Exactly. (They starred in Beautiful Creatures, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, and Vampire Academy — all YA adaptations, and all massive flops.) So what does Woodley have that these other girls don't? Better source material certainly doesn't hurt. Putting aside Divergent, which is fairly run-of-the-mill dystopia, Spectacular Now and Fault In Our Stars are both terrific novels that lend a helping hand to Woodley in a way that, say, Twilight never could to Kristin Stewart.
But you have to give credit where credit is due: to Woodley herself. She has a natural talent that doesn't feel like it was churned out of a teen star factory — which is ironic, given that she spent five years on a network owned by Disney. She's beautiful without being unapproachable; she's vulnerable without being forgettable; she's expressive without being histrionic. (Case in point: that underwater crying scene from The Descendants.)
In its three weeks of release, Divergent has grossed over $100 million, which puts it handily ahead of most of its YA brethren, but still behind the genre's trifecta (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight). If Fault is as big a hit as early word-of-mouth suggests, then Woodley could continue to be everywhere for quite a while longer.
Watch Woodley present with Fault co-star Ansel Elgort at the MTV Movie Awards this Sunday at 9 PM ET, where she just might win for Best Kiss with her Spectacular screen partner Miles Teller. Then she'd really be a big deal.