Why Hollywood Desperately Needs Shailene Woodley

March 18, 2014

TIME – The 22-year-old Divergent turns out to be the outspoken feminist role model we’ve been waiting for. Here’s what she’s had to say so far.

Shailene Woodley’s stock is about to skyrocket, which is a good thing because if the press tour for her new movie Divergent is any indication, she’s the feminist role model we’ve been waiting for in Hollywood.

Woodley is on the road to becoming a household name, thanks to starring roles in two upcoming film adaptations of wildly popular — but incredibly different — YA books. On Friday, the highly anticipated film adaptation of Veronica Roth’s Divergent hits theaters. And later this summer, Woodley will star as cancer patient Hazel in the big-screen version of fan favorite The Fault in Our Stars.

The up-and-coming star has made a point of speaking out about the issues she believes in, including the traditional constraints against women in Hollywood. And now that Jennifer Lawrence is considering taking a year off from Hollywood, we’re in desperate need of young female role models in the movie industry. Enter Shailene.

The parallels to Lawrence are obvious. Both spent time on family-friendly TV shows (TBS’ The Bill Engvall Show for Lawrence and ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager for Woodley) before making the leap to critically acclaimed indie films (an Oscar-nominated performance in Winter’s Bone for Lawrence and The Descendants with George Clooney for Woodley). Now both headline female-led franchises based on dystopian young adult novels: Divergent is already being called the next Hunger Games.

And the similarities don’t stop there. Both actresses chopped off their long locks for pixie cuts. They’re both bubbly, down-to-earth, beautiful and effortlessly likable. (If you need proof, see the outdoor-loving, mason-jar-toting Woodley offer Jimmy Fallon a phallic horseradish.) Though Lionsgate President Erik Feig enlisted Lawrence to convince Woodley to sign on to the Divergent franchise and Woodley has since reached out to Lawrence for advice — all via email — the two starlets reportedly have not met. Their eventual, inevitable union will probably kill the Internet with an overload of memes.

But Woodley’s recent press tour has us thinking she’s more than just a J-Law clone. She has her own opinions about feminism and isn’t afraid to speak up. Here are the highlights:

On feminism in Divergent (The Daily Beast): “And in this movie, there’s no envy and no jealousy — no ridiculous girl-fights. It’s such an important message to send out there in this age of feminism because, yes, men need to respect women, and women need to be the leads of films, but at the same time, how do we expect men to respect women if women don’t respect women? A big theme in my life is sisterhood, and I think that this movie is a really great representation of that — of being there and supporting one-another without the malicious attacks that so often come in movies and media. So many women feel so much anger towards other women.”