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Shailene Woodley was only 5 years old when she caught the acting bug. By age 7, the movie star had already figured out what she wanted her career to look and feel like. Though the then-child actor loved working on commercials and auditioning, she had absolutely no interest in being famous. In fact, she vowed to quit acting completley once she became too recognizable.

Shailene Woodley looks over her shoulder while wearing a big black and white hat
Shailene Woodley | Jim Spellman/WireImage

Shailene Woodley struggles with the idea of being famous

Woodley has been candid about the fact that she’ll never think of herself as famous. Despite her impressive resume, the Adrift actor has found a way to lead a pretty normal life. But with 4.8 million followers on Instagram alone, it’s clear that the California native has some celebrity status, even if she’s intent on resisting it.

‘The O.C.’ alum made a promise about her acting career at a very young age

In an interview with NET-A-PORTER, Woodley explained that her disinterest in the more glamorous aspects of her career started at a young age. “When I was seven, I said, ‘The day I’m on the cover of a magazine, I’m going to quit,’ because I never wanted this industry to get in the way of my life.”

Of course, Woodley didn’t adhere to the promise she made as a kid. Throughout the course of her career, she’s graced many a magazine cover. But while she didn’t quit acting, she did manage to distance herself from a lot of celebrity aspects of her career. This was especially true when she was in her late teen to early 20s. According to the Divergent alum, the very idea of fame overwhelmed her.

Why Woodley distanced herself from parts of her career

“The idea of magazines, press lines, red carpets and fashion, all of that was so overwhelming that I stayed away from it all,” Woodley revealed. “I can’t half-ass anything, so when it came to me having to look a certain way or speak a certain way for this image I was meant to create, it turned me off. When I wasn’t filming, I would work on a farm somewhere because that’s what I could hold onto that felt real.”

Continuing on, Woodley shared that she often felt pressured to adhere to a very specific image. This disinterest in portraying someone she was not also contributed to her avoiding events, magazine covers, red carpets, and the like.

‘The Fallout’ actor felt pressured to look a certain way earlier on in her career

“In high school, I would shop at thrift stores to put together weird outfits,” Woodley remembered. “When I did The Descendants, I had studios saying, ‘You need to dress more cosmopolitan,’ which is such a funny word to use for an 18-year-old. I let go of so much of my desire to be creative in that space because I didn’t want to be a mannequin for someone to dress up and throw on a red carpet. We often see a pattern with young women in this industry: they lose a bit of weight after they become successful, their hair changes, or their skin becomes clear. There’s a lot that goes into the behind the scenes that, if that’s not your thing, can itch at your soul.”


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While Woodley did consider quitting acting at a certain point, she ultimately loved it too much to give it up. Fortunately, the Endings, Beginnings actor has found a way to navigate her career in a way that feels authentic. Whether it’s showing up on the red carpet using veggies as makeup or taking control of her narrative, it seems like the actor has things figured out for herself.