The M Interview: Shailene Woodley on Hollywood's diversity problem
Shailene Woodley may play pack leader Tris in The Divergent Series, but she firmly believes young people need strong male heroes as well
It is the beginning of the end for The Divergent Series, with the release of the penultimate instalment Allegiant on March 17.
And Shailene Woodley, who plays the young adult sci-fi action flick's protagonist and badass heroine Tris Prior, will reprise her role for the last time when filming on the fourth and final movie Ascendant starts later this summer.
For the 24-year-old US actress, it has been an amazing ride, despite being famously reluctant to sign on to such a mega franchise in the beginning.
Her increasing fame has given her a louder voice in Hollywood and the opportunity to promote female empowerment on the big screen.
Tris is the unlikely emerging leader of humanity in a dystopian future and she is labelled as Divergent and hunted by factions in power out to destroy her kind.
In Allegiant, she escapes with Four (Theo James) beyond the wall enclosing Chicago. Once outside, the pair must decide who they can trust, even as a battle that threatens humanity ignites.
When asked what she would do if she had the power to change the world like Tris, Woodley immediately addressed the fact that climate change is something we all need to pay attention to.
She said at Allegiant's press junket at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills: "You can do something as small as unplugging things, using small amounts of water to standing up against pipe lines and fossil fuel companies.
"Hopefully, the younger generations, watching these movies, are thinking about these problems. One can only hope."
She has also recently been very vocal on the subject on her Twitter account, mentioning in one tweet how "we're all indigenous... we have a responsibility to protect our land for future generations".
Hollywood's diversity problem, for her, is also a pressing conversation to be had - and it happens to be a main theme in Allegiant.
She said: "It's important for everyone to be different and have different thoughts. It's also how you categorise diversity - based on race, gender, religion or if it's some superficial thing. It's important because it enables us to learn from one another in our community, but it's also important to differentiate the subject of diversity and the subject of segregation."
According to Woodley, even though it is great and progressive for Hollywood to have strong female heroines like Tris and Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games film franchise, it is just as crucial for people to have strong male heroes to emulate as well.
She said: "It's about finding the equal balance between the two. The world is divided between females and males, so we need to have examples of both for the younger generations to look up to."
But even though Woodley admitted that she had a great time with The Divergent Series, she "can't imagine" herself doing something similar again.
Instead, she is looking to branch out with new projects and she hopes to one day try her hand at directing, something she has always wanted to do.
She cited US film-maker Alexander Payne, who directed her in 2011's The Descendants, as an inspiration for his ability to tell human stories and make them funny.
For the past three years, Woodley has shown that she is comfortable juggling the action of The Divergent Series with a variety of work. She filmed romantic drama The Fault In Our Stars (2014), political thriller Snowden (2016) and HBO TV comedy series Big Little Lies in between the Divergent films.
And although she may be considered one of the young starlets in the industry, she has shunned the spotlight for a more relaxed approach to Hollywood, something many of her fans admire her for.
"Some people crave celebrity," she said. "That's great for them, but that's so not me. I can still go anywhere. I just go out like this and nobody gives a s***.
"And when people recognise me, I'm very real with them. I'm just another person and people really respond (likewise). Why would I change my lifestyle to the way other people react?"
The fact that she still lives like a gypsy, staying in Airbnbs instead of buying a permanent residence, simply solidifies the fact that she is a free spirit.
"Since I work so much, it doesn't make sense for me to pay rent to someone," she said.
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