Interview with Shailene Woodley of The Secret Life of the American Teenager

April 4, 2011

Shailene Woodley has played Amy Juergens the teen who is dealing with adult problems on the ABC Family mega hit show The Secret Life of the American Teenager. I recently had the chance to interview Shailene about the show, her character and her life off screen. She is quite the young woman.

Shailene Woodley

Three years ago The Secret Life of The American Teenager became an instant hit. Literally from the get go the show was a success and kudos goes to Shailene Woodley who plays the lead character Amy who got pregnant as a teen. The rest of the cast as well is amazing and deserves a shout out too. However it really is Woodley’s talent and ability to take on this character that is dealing with some very serious issues that in my eyse makes the show outstanding.

Recently I had the pleasure of being a part of a Q&A interview with Shailene and here is little bit about what we chatted about.

Rachelle: How did you get started in acting? Has it been something you’ve been doing since you were a child?
Shailene: I was five and it was a complete accident. Both my parents work in education. I wanted to be in a play and so we went to what we thought was a local theatre class. Apparently the agents came and sat in and called my mom and were like, “We want to represent Shai,” and my mom was like, “What’s an agent?” We finally just learned as we progressed. I had three rules growing up to stay in acting. I had to stay the kid they knew I was, stay good in school, and have fun. As long as I met those three requirements, I could act. So, instead of going to soccer practice, I went to auditions.

Rachelle: What direction would you like to see Amy go in?
Shailene: I think that Amy has done a lot of growing over the past two years, especially over the past year. I think that she’s kind of come into her own become more of a woman, accepted more responsibility and didn’t complain about it. But I think she has this need to prove to others that she’s happy and that Ricky and her are happy. I would like to see Amy be more secure wth herself and confident in her own personality and her beauty—I’m not talking about physical, I’m talking about emotional—beauty that she is able to live her life without feeling that she needs the approval from others.

Rachelle: When you first read the script for the show, what was it about the character of Amy that appealed to you?
Shailene: The character appealed to me because she was different from all of those glamorous girls. I love Gossip Girl. I think it’s entertaining. I think it’s awesome but I don’t think a lot of people can relate to it because I don’t think a lot of people are able to live those lifestyles. I think Amy’s character really appealed to me because not only was her life going through all of these difficulties but she lives in a household where her parents were getting divorced and fighting and where her sister wasn’t the easiest person to get along with. I thought it was kind of important to show girls across the U.S. as well as across the world that you’re not alone. My parents got divorced and even though it was a very healthy, great divorce, it still is difficult as a young child. I think that it’s important for kids to be able to tune into a show where they can relate to the character. I think Amy is very relatable for a lot of people.

Rachelle: Do you have other projects you’re working on or anything else coming up that you can talk about?
Shailene: I’m not working on anything right now. I worked on a movie last year called The Descendants with George Clooney, which is going to premiere December 16th.

That my friends wasn’t all that Woodley shared with us. She divulged a little bit about working with Mr. Clooney, who she called a really phenomenal human being. Shailene also shared that George is so down to earth, super professional and one of the funniest people she has ever met in her entire life, if not the funniest. In regards to the film she let on her character Alex a little bit of a troublemaker. She did drugs and drank a lot in high school and was sent to a boarding school to kind of clean her up and get her act together. Throughout the movie, she kind of progresses into this incredible person. Sounds like a feel good movie to me, I think I will have to check it out.

Woodley was more than open on giving her thoughts on the character that has made her a household name, for example where she thinks Amy will be the happiest in the future which is with Ricky and John of course. Along with having a good job and still getting to play the French horn. The other relationship that many were asking about was the one between Amy and her sister Ashley. Shailene shared that two are polar opposites yet in a lot of ways the same. There is the jealousy factor both sides. Amy because Ashley does not have the responsibility she does and Ashley because of the need to prove she is just as mature as her sister. That jealousy gets in between them a lot according to Woodley. Then there is the aspect of Ashley liking Ricky who is her sister’s baby daddy that adds another layer of drama to these sisters.

The show clearly sends a powerful message to fans and Shailene hopes that message is to live from your heart, let your heart rule our life versus your mind. Why you might ask, well because she thinks a lot of times when you start letting your mind rule your life, your ego, your pride, your opinions, all of those things kind of get in the way and skew what you really are trying to do and steer your path. But if you live from your heart she truly believes that everything will always work out the way it’s supposed to. Your intuition always knows best as she put it. I have to say I was quite impressed with that and really agree with it. Sure is something I need to do more.

There was no avoiding the whole comparison between Secret Life and the disastrous reality TV show Teen Mom and even Woodley had some thoughts on it. Simply put she didn’t think that there’s any way to compare them because they’re two completely different shows. Obviously Teen Mom is a reality show and Secret Life is scripted. Shailene did say she thinks her show gives a pretty decent accurate portrayal of life as a teenager, especially a pregnant one but didn’t comment on the accuracy of the MTV reality show.

A couple of more little tidbits about the lovely young actress, like that she got her unique moniker from a license plate thanks to her mom who saw Shai and then it had a bunch of numbers when she was driving. Her mom thought it would be a cute nickname, but wanted something longer. She went through a bunch of names with Shai in it and finally decided on Shailene. When she is hiatus the brunette beauty loves to travel, it is one of her biggest passions.

In terms of music you can find Woodley listening to older music like Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles, they’re always on her iPod. But she also like newer bands like, Arcade Fire, Blue Foundation, Animal Collective, E3 and Aretha Franklin. Her musical range is very broad according to her.

It was blast talking to the amazing Shailene Woodley. She is not only a fabulous actress but such a lovely person as well. She even shared what fans of the show can expect to see this season which includes, possibly a wedding, maybe someone moving in with someone else, someone falling in love with someone else and someone falling out of love as well. It may not be very detailed but you have to admit it does leave you a little bit curious right.

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Photos: Blue/PNP/FayesVision/Adriana M. barraza

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4 Responses to “Interview with Shailene Woodley of The Secret Life of the American Teenager”

  1. 1
    Sarah Says:

    I haven’t seen this show in a while. I’ll have to check it out again.

  2. 2
    Jon Says:

    Whoa good for her,.. George CLooney movie is a big step.

  3. 3
    Stacy Says:

    Wow, I love to see that she is down to earth like her character Amy. Love that show!

  4. 4
    Sandy Says:

    Love George Clooney! Love your interview Rachelle!