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Shailene Woodley starred in the hit television series The Secret Life of the American Teenager for many years. When she was given some down time, the actor chose to dabble in a different line of work.

But when Hollywood came calling her again, Woodley was concerned about leaving her new job to head back to the film industry.

Why Shailene Woodley briefly worked at American Apparel

Shailene Woodley at Balmain.
Shailene Woodley | Jacopo Raule/Getty Images

Woodley once found herself on a brief hiatus filming The Secret Life of the American Teenager. She used this break from the entertainment industry to explore a more down-to-earth lifestyle of being a teenager.

She left California to reside in New York, where she picked up a job at American Apparel. But unlike some around her age at the time, Woodley didn’t do so because she was hurting for money.

“I’d never done retail; I thought it would be fun,” Woodley once told Backstage. “I got to meet new people and lead a totally different life.”

On the chance someone might know who she was while on the job, Woodley would just pretend she wasn’t Shailene Woodley.

“If someone recognized me, I would just say, ‘Oh no, I get that a lot,'” she once told Interview.

Shailene Woodley was once terrified of quitting her retail job at American Apparel for ‘The Descendants’

The Descendants was a film that Woodley wanted to star in from the moment she read the script. The 2011 Alexander Payne feature focused on a cast that included Judy Greer, Robert Forster, and George Clooney who she bonded with.

It focused on the challenges a single father had to make after the mother of his children and wife ends up in a coma. Woodley was tapped to play one of Clooney’s daughters in the film, a role she was immediately excited to play.

“I read the script before Alexander or George were attached, and I fell in love with it because it was real and human, and it wasn’t artistically licensed, and it wasn’t glamorized or beautified. So often, I read scripts and am like, ‘This would never happen in real life. It’s not trying to be funny. It’s trying to be serious.’ But, this movie was real and it was messy, and I really responded to that,” she said in a 2011 interview with Collider.

But in a separate Collider interview, Woodley shared that her offer for the movie couldn’t have come at a worse time. The actor was still working at American Apparel when the role came her way. Since she hadn’t been working there for long, she was “was terrified to have to quit my job. I hate having to go in and put in your two weeks notice. That’s terrifying!”

Fortunately, her manager didn’t react the way Woodley thought she might have.

“I had only been working there for two months, so I thought that she would be pissed that I took a job for two months then was quitting. But, she was very gracious and kind and considerate,” Woodley recalled.

How Shailene Woodley felt about her Oscar-buzz after doing ‘The Descendants


Shailene Woodley Makes Homemade Tea From Pine Needles

The Descendants helped expand Woodley’s career from television to acting. Her performance was getting much attention from Hollywood, and even generated speculation that it might have earned her an Oscar nomination. But Woodley cared very little about her growing star-power.

“I just wake up every day and take it day by day. I’m grateful for whatever experiences I get to embark on, and whatever happens, happens,” she once told IndieWire.

She had a similar reaction to the possibility of being nominated for an Oscar. To Woodley, winning an award for any of her works held little importance.

“All of those things [the awards], I just look at as the materialistic side of this industry. I know that sounds bizarre to say,” she said.