Shailene Woodley plays the role of Amy on ABC Family’s hit original series, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, with all new episodes premiering Monday, January 4th at 8:00 p.m. eastern, 7:00 p.m. central. In support of the new episodes, Shailene took the time to answer reporter questions and give us all an insight into the new season, her role as Amy, and her life being the star of this hit TV show.
I know you can’t say too much about what’s going to kind of happen in the next episodes, but is there anything you can share with us about what to expect when the show returns?
Yes, there’s a lot of new things. Another maybe pregnancy, weddings; there’s a lot of confusion as far as in Ben and Amy’s relationship; there’s a lot of up and downs with Ricky’s character and trying to figure out who he is and what he wants. A lot of the characters are going through that stage in high school where you’re starting to become a person and in that recognition of who you are there’s a lot of confusion and you get scared. And I think a lot of teenagers react in not the best ways and I think the whole next season kind of discovers that and goes into depth of that confusing state of adolescence.
Amy’s personality has changed a lot since having a baby. Can you expound upon those changes?
I think that all teenage girls kind of go through that mean stage where the world revolves around them. I think it’s very hormonal and especially after having a child I think that your hormones are all out of whack and it causes a lot of mood swings. So I think they were just trying to portray that life isn’t perfect after you have baby, you are going to go through exactly like what you said, post dramatic depression. You’re going to go through a lot of things that you wouldn’t necessarily go through if you hadn’t had a child at 15.
The Secret Life requires a lot of dramatic acting. What do you and the cast do for fun especially on the tough days of filming?
When all the cast works we bring guitars and – a lot of the guys play – and we’ll all kind of like sit around and make up stupid songs about each other, or someone will bring their computer and we’ll go on YouTube for hours and just laugh hysterically.
We all get along really well. It’s a very comfortable set. It’s really neat to be able to have a physical scene and then afterwards go out and be comfortable around the person enough to share your own personal stories and stuff. So it’s kind of like high school all over again without the drama.
How is it working with the cutie that plays your son?
There’s two of them. They’re great. They’re one and a half year old boys, so they have their moments, but most of the time they’re just complete angels. It’s so cute. I’ll always go in there every time we film together, about an hour before we actually start filming just to bond with them, and so they can get comfortable around me, and their smiles, they’re just like normal little kids. And it’s such an interesting dynamic to watch a one year old be put in a room with cameras and lights and microphones and people everywhere and watch them stay quiet and stay professional I guess you could say. It’s really interesting to me how a baby could do that.
The cast has incredible on-screen chemistry. How is it behind the scenes?
When the show first started we all kind of just got put there together. It’s not like any of us got to choose who we got to work with or who we were going to spend the rest like two years of our lives and hopefully more with … So everyone bonded immediately, it was kind of that thing where we didn’t really have a choice, so we bonded, and it’s been great. A lot of us are very different people, but there’s never conflicts; sometimes there’s differences in opinions, but we’re all so down to earth about and we all just accept each other as who we are and we learn from each other.
Some of us are into more alternative music per se and then others are more into the whole hip-hop rap scene and that’s very basic, but instead of arguing about differences, we kind of engage each other in the differences and we get to learn amazing things. I’m not a dancer, but Francia Raisa is the most amazing dancer I’ve ever seen. So she has been able to kind of help me with that kind of whole aspect of life and I’ve been able to help her with more like crafty kind of that whole kind of life. I don’t know, it’s kind of difficult to explain, but we’re all very open with each and we never judge each other.
What was the audition process like?
It was pretty much like any other audition process. I went in and met with the casting director; and then there was interest there so they brought me in, and I met with the director. Actually, I didn’t know it at the time, but Brenda Hampton was in the room and she took a liking to me, and then we did a director session after that where it was me, Brenda, and the director, Ron Underwood, and then I went to testing. So it was kind of a quick, crazy process that flew by. It all happened so quickly and it’s been such an amazing journey.
How has this whole experience over the last two years been?
Honestly, my life is kind of the same. I’m a lot busier and, yes, there are a couple of people who will stop on the street, but people are generally very respectful and very nice. I don’t put myself out there. I barely wear any makeup. I just feel like I’ve kind of taken on the responsibility of being a professional.
It’s always awkward for me the whole fan situation, because I don’t know them and they don’t know me, so I want to engage in conversation, but then that’s always awkward too. It’s a very interesting dynamic, but other than that life has just been the same. I’ve stayed with the same friends and have the most amazing family ever, so I’ve been very lucky.
ABC Family has a wonderful network of shows with incredible casts. Are you friends with the other cast members from some of the other shows like Make It or Break It or Greek?
Honestly, I haven’t met many of them that many times, but in the couple times that we did, of course everyone is so friendly and so open to each other. And it’s cool every time we see someone from Ten Things I Hate About You, I’ll go up to them and we’ll be talking, to like Megan for instance, and they’ll just say, “My other part of my family.” We always joke around with the whole new kind of family thing, ABC Family. It’s really cool. Even though we’re not close and we hardly know each other, we’re very open with each other.
How has playing Amy changed your view on like teenage relationships and teen pregnancy?
As far as teenager relationships go, Amy and Ben’s relationship like I said is very immature. Not immature in a childish way, but immature in a not super grown up way. And I think a lot of high school relationships are like that. I’ve had a couple of those where you’re in the moment and you think that he could be the one and everything’s fine and then two weeks later he does something stupid and you’re like, okay, next.
It just kind of showed me that high school is really like a game board almost. You’re kind of going through each different aspect of your life and you’re testing the waters. And I think it’s a really fun, exciting time, but I also think you have to be careful, and that kind of showed me, when you’re in the moment, it could seem one way, but when you look at the big picture from afar, it’s completely different. So I guess to just open your eyes and look outside the box.
And then as far as teenage pregnancy, I don’t think it’s a controversial thing. I had two kids from my senior class. One of them is a dad now, one of them is a mom now, in two different situations, and it’s kind of bizarre to know that I’ve grown up with these people. I’ve gone to elementary school, middle school, and high school with them, and now they’re parents at my age. It’s bazaar to think that it actually happens in real life and it’s not just a show. So when that happened to those kids at my school, it kind of opened my eyes to the fact that this is a real life situation, and not only am I just like playing a character, I’m playing thousands of characters that have to go through this emotional turmoil every single day of their lives, for the rest of their lives.
I think just be strong and talk to people, communicate. The more you communicate, the more love you’re going accept into your body, and I think that is the only way to kind of cope with situations like that.
What has been the feedback from parents about The Secret Life of the American Teenager?
Feedback that we’ve got from parents who have come up to us and said like, “Wow, this shows opened such incredible avenues for me and my children to communicate.”
I grew up in a very open household where if I had a question about anything, I could ask my parents, and they would answer me truthfully and not hold anything back. I think that really helped me as a child know exactly what everything was. I had a lot of friends who couldn’t talk to their parents, so they would ask their peers information about guys and that whole situation and make mistakes because they didn’t know the true facts.
I think it’s really incredible that parents have been able to say that they have watched the show with their children and then been able to talk about how certain things happen and why they happen and kind of go through all that and be comfortable around their children. And that’s really inspiring to me to just know that we’ve opened up communication in households that might have not necessarily talked about it before.