Grew up in Simi Valley, a city in Ventura County and approximately 40 miles from Downtown Los Angeles. The city sits next to Thousand Oaks, Moorpark, and Los Angeles.
Has a younger brother, Tanner, who was born in October 1994.
Revealed the origin behind her unusual name in a feature with Industria in 2012: “I was named after a licence plate. My mum saw the word ‘Shai’ on a plate followed by a load of numbers and she thought it was pretty cool and just added an ending to it.”
Lived in Palmdale for five years, then moved back to Simi Valley at the beginning of fifth grade. She attended Township Elementary School and Valley View Middle School in Simi Valley and Los Cerritos Middle School in Thousand Oaks. She graduated in 2009 from Simi Valley High School.
Her ancestry includes English from her paternal side and African-American, Creole (including African, French, Spanish, Swiss and German) from her maternal side.
Both her parents are psychologists—her mother was a middle school counselor, and her father, a former school principal, is now a family therapist. Shailene’s mother, Lori, left her career in public education in 2015 and now divides her time between consulting and the non-profit organization, All It Takes.
Was discovered by an agent at the age of 5 while appearing in a local theater show. She quickly began booking commercials, appearing in more than 40 TV spots, including ads for Leapfrog, Hertz and a Honda minivan. Her parents allowed to Shailene to pursue acting so long as she followed three rules: “Stay the person I knew I was, do well in school and have fun. If I did all those things, I could continue to act.”
Auditioned for the role of Lucy Diamond Dawson in I Am Sam. The part went to Dakota Fanning, but in an interview with Orange Country Register in 2013, Shailene recalls that as a nine-year-old, she was bitterly disappointed with losing the part. Her father took her aside and convinced her not to feel anger, but to instead support Dakota.
During her junior year at Simi Valley High School, Shailene was cast as pregnant teen Amy Juergens on The Secret Life of the American Teenager. She said her friends were supportive of her career but continued to treat her the same. “They couldn’t care less,” Woodley said. “They just knew me as Shai.”
At 15, Shailene was diagnosed with Scoliosis. She had to wear a body brace 18 hours a day for two years.
Woodley was a 4.0 student who took AP classes at Simi Valley High School. The self-confessed “choir nerd” sang alto for four years as well as taking part in pep rallies. Prior to booking her role on The Secret Life of the American Teenager, she had initially thought about studying Interior Design at NYU.
Has worked extensively with acting coach Anthony Meindl.
Originally played Kaitlin Cooper in first season of The O.C. Before the role was recast in the show’s third season, Shailene re-auditioned for the part. Willa Holland took over the role for the remainder of the show’s airing.
Prior to her breakthrough role in The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Shailene had worked at a paint store in her hometown of Simi Valley. She told Judy Greer in an interview for The Lab; “It was like a Color Me Mine and I was a party host. I would go around and cut cakes for kids and make them do karaoke to Hannah Montana songs. I was really good at it, as you can imagine. It was really fun for me.”
Favorite artists include Blondie, Nahko And Medicine For The People, Little Richard, ANOHNI, East Forest, Cocteau Twins, Bon Iver, Depeche Mode and The Beatles.
Has expressed her interest in working with directors such as Martin Scorsese, Darren Aronofsky, Cameron Crowe, Terrence Malick and Danny Boyle.
Moved into an unfurnished New York City apartment on the Lower East Side with her then-boyfriend during a hiatus in filming The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Despite breaking up with him while living in the city, Shailene stayed while he returned to California. She took a job in American Apparel on East Houston Street, and in only her second shift, received a call from her manager telling her she would need to fly back to Los Angeles to meet with Alexander Payne, director of The Descendants. Although initially hesitant, she called sick at her job and flew to meet with him. She then returned to New York for another month, before getting the call from Payne, who confirmed her casting in the Hawaii-set drama.
Cites author Anaïs Nin as one of her biggest inspirations. “Anaïs is like the ultimate goddess. I feel really connected to her femininity,” she told New York Magazine in 2014.
Shailene’s favorite flowers are Lilies, Tuberose, and Hawaiian ginger.
Natalie Portman’s role in Black Swan is one of her favorite performances.
Prior to the exhaustive Divergent press tour, she took a solo trip to Costa Rica.
Café Gratitude is one of her favorite eateries in Los Angeles.
Often describes her acting techniques as “active listening” – telling NPR: “For me, it’s about being fully present and actively listening to every single thing that’s going on around me and reacting to it. Because I feel the second I premeditate something, it’s going to feel premeditated.”
Lived in a Topanga Canyon home which she later gave to her grandmother.
Would love to play Stevie Nicks or Patti Smith in a biopic.
Isidora Goreshter and Shawn-Caulin Young are two of her best friends.
Some of her favorite actors include Kate Winset, Julianne Moore, Marion Cotillard, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mark Ruffalo, Natalie Portman, Joseph-Gordon Levitt, Mélanie Laurent and Ewan McGregor.
1984 by George Orwell and Henry and June by Anaïs Nin are some of her favorite books.
Admitted that after studying astrology for several years, she now builds an entire birth chart for each of her characters to help understand their psychology.
The Artist, Lion, Dirty Dancing, The Departed, The Goonies, Up, Wall-E, Call Me By Your Name and Rust and Bone have all been mentioned as some of her favorite films.
Met her current boyfriend, Fijan rugby player Ben Volavola while filming Adrift on the island. The pair lived in Bordeaux while Volavola played for the French rugby union team. They now live in Paris, after Volavola joined Racing 92.
Birth name: Shailene Diann Woodley
Professional name: Shailene Woodley
Date of Birth: November 15, 1991
Zodiac sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: San Bernardino County, California
Hometown: Simi Valley, Ventura County, California
Parents: Lori Woodley (née Victor) and Lonnie Woodley
Siblings: Tanner Woodley (b. 1994)
Height: 5’8 (173cm)