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Interview with Shailene Woodley of "The Secret Life of the
on ABC Family 3/30/11.
ABC Family’s Q&A Session with Shailene Woodley– The
Secret Life of the American Teenager
Moderator Do you think that Ricky could make a committed husband?
S. Woodley I think that Ricky could make a committed boyfriend and a
committed lover, but to be a husband is a big deal especially when
you're in high school. So, I don't know if Ricky's ready and honestly I
don't if Amy's ready, just because that is such a huge lifelong
Moderator Where do you see Amy the most happy in the future?
S. Woodley I see her the most happy with Ricky, with John, in an amazing
comfortable job where she makes a good salary and she also still gets to
play her French horn.
Moderator Are they married?
S. Woodley Yes, they are married, absolutely.
Moderator Now can you talk about how confusing Amy's living situation is
these days and how that informs the way you play the character?
S. Woodley Absolutely. I think that it's super confusing for any
teenager to have a boyfriend, especially a boyfriend in a relationship
like Amy and Ricky's. Then to have to live together or not live together
and all the pressures of other kids in high school and the pressure of
wanting to feel grown-up , but not really being grown-up yet and wanting
to prove to her parents that she can do it on her own, but she can't
really do it on her own yet. So, I think that affects her life in a lot
of different ways, because she's always got that in the back of her
mind, trying to prove that she's older because she does have a
two-year-old son, trying to prove that she can do it, when she might not
really be in the space to be able to.
Moderator While speaking of wanting to be older, what's it like for you
as an actress to work with a small child at your age?
S. Woodley It's amazing. I love kids. I live for kids. To have those
little boys on set all the time is so much fun. We have dance parties in
the trailers. They laugh. They call me Shai-Shai. It's great to have
their young, youthful energy on the set.
Moderator It's good practice for you too?
S. Woodley Absolutely.
Moderator I wanted to ask you about how Amy and Ashley's relationship
S. Woodley Amy and Ashley's relationship, well, they are siblings and
they are—I mean in a lot of ways polar opposites, but in a lot of ways,
they're kind of similar too. Ashley definitely is an old soul, I would
say. She has a lot of knowledge that she was probably just born with, a
lot of commonsense, street-smart knowledge. Amy's more book-smart. So, I
think they kind of rub each other wrong or they rub each other wrong
with that department of their life, a lot in the sense that Ashley
thinks she always knows and Amy thinks she always knows, but I think
deep down, of course, they love each other. Of course, they would do
anything for each other. We'll see that coming up, I'm sure, just
because as teenagers get older, they kind of become closer with their
But, I think there's also a jealousy factor between Ashley and Amy,
because Amy does have the boyfriend. Amy does—even though she has a
child, and we're not glamorizing it -it's really difficult to be a
teenage mom, Amy has a lot of responsibility and Ashley doesn't really
have anything. So, I think Ashley's always trying to prove that she's
more mature. She can do it on her own. I think that kind of gets in the
middle of them as well.
Moderator How did Amy feel about Ashley liking Ricky and wanting to be
S. Woodley I think it would be hard for one of your friends to like the
father of your child, I can't even imagine a sibling liking the father
of your child, but I think Amy reacted in a very fair way. She wasn't
crazy, mean about it, but she also didn't let Ashley walk over her. She
told her how she felt and I think that's a big milestone to get over.
For Ashley to accept the fact that it might not be the best decision to
like or fall in love with the father of her sister's baby. So, I think
that was really difficult on Amy. Even if she wasn't as vocal about it,
I think that emotionally it took a toll on her.
Moderator What message do you want to send to the fans of the show?
S. Woodley Personally, I would say it is so important to live from your
heart and to let your heart kind of rule in your life versus your mind.
Because, I think a lot of times when you start letting your mind rule
your life, your ego, your pride, your opinions, all of those things kind
of get in the way and skew what you really are trying to do and steer
your path. But if you live from your heart, I truly believe that
everything will always work out the way it's supposed to. I think your
intuition always knows best. Just live from a place of compassion. I
think that if everyone would live from a place of compassion and a place
of patience and love that this world would be phenomenal.
Moderator What's your best memory with your cast mates on the show?
S. Woodley Oh, my gosh, we have so many. I guess one of my favorite
one's, when Willow Smith's, Whip my Hair came out, all of the girls on
the show went into one of the trailers, we blasted Willow Smith. We
whipped our hair for the two minutes or however long her song is. Then
we danced to Spice Girls and it was so much fun. Then the next morning
we all woke up and we couldn't even bend down to brush our teeth because
our necks were so sore from whipping our hair so much.
Moderator We're really excited for the new episodes to start up again. I
was just hoping you could tell us a little bit about what to expect from
some of the upcoming storylines.
S. Woodley Well, there's a lot of drama, obviously. There might possibly
be a wedding; there might possibly not be a wedding. Someone might move
in with someone else. Someone might fall in love with someone else.
Someone might move out of someone else. Someone might fall out of love.
There's a lot going on.
Moderator Will there be any more focus on the relationship or the
friendship between Amy and Adrian?
S. Woodley Absolutely, I mean Adrian is kind of going through what Amy
went through, so I think Amy is going to be there for Adrian to help her
along and help her progress through this pregnancy.
Moderator I wanted to know what first attracted you to the role of Amy.
S. Woodley When I first read the script, I thought it was really great
and spectacular how there was going to be a show on television that
really depicted life of high school. The role of Amy really drew me in
just in the sense that she was 15 and pregnant and not in a stable
relationship with the guy who got her pregnant. Her parents were going
through a divorce and she had the troublesome little sister, so I think
that that—I'm not saying every girl in high school is pregnant,
obviously, but there are those pregnant teenagers out there and I
thought it was really important to give them a show. This is before Teen
Mom came out and before all of those. I thought it was really important
to give them a show where, we showed that it is hard. It is really
difficult to be pregnant at any stage in your life, let alone being 15
and financially not in the best position. For … in America and all
around the world, but they're not alone, that this does happen. That
it's okay and they'll survive and they're kids are going to be
phenomenal human beings.
I also was just attracted to the trueness of the plot. They dealt with
so many issues. They dealt with divorce. They dealt with death. They
dealt with the drama of high school with boys and the friends. I don't
know, I thought it was really creative and different.
Moderator Do you think that it's an accurate portrayal of high school
S. Woodley Absolutely. I mean in my high school alone, obviously it's a
television show, but I think the main themes are very on key. In my high
school, we had a pregnant girl at prom and a pregnant girl at
graduation. We had the girl whose parents were never around and who kind
of were a little more promiscuous. We also had the guy who had a really
hard upbringing and who wasn't really clear about if he could be stable
and committed to one girl. Then we had everyone from the choir girls or
choir boys to band people. I thought it was really important to give
kids out there a reason to watch television and also learn as well as be
Moderator I had a question about your name. It's such an original,
unique name. Where did it come from? Who named you?
S. Woodley My name came from a license plate, actually. My mom was
driving when she was 18, she was in traffic on the freeway, and the car
in front of her the license plate said, Shai and then it had a bunch of
numbers. She doesn't even know if it was supposed to be pronounced as
Shai, but she created that in her mind. Then, she … adding the second
half to it … it would be a cute nickname, but I want something longer,
so she had Shailynne or Shailene or Shaillyn, and she—I don't know, I
guess she went for Shailene and when she met my dad, my dad loved it and
that's how I got my name.
Moderator Were there ever any doubts that the show would return for its
S. Woodley No, I don't think so at all. I think it was all just a matter
of timing and scheduling.
Moderator We'd love to know who's a better a kisser, Daren or Ken?
S. Woodley Oh, no, I can't answer that question. They're both good
kissers in their own way.
Moderator What made Amy propose to Ricky?
S. Woodley I think there was a lot of pressure that she kind of put upon
herself just because Adrian and Ben, their relationship is kind of
progressing. I think she wanted to prove to other people that her and
Ricky were more committed. I think she really proposed to him more to
prove to others, than she did for herself.
Moderator How did you get started in acting? Has it been something
you've been doing since you were a child?
S. Woodley I was five and it was a complete accident. Both my parents
work in education and we thought it was a local theatre class because I
wanted to be in a play, and apparently the agents came and sat in and
called my mom and was like, “We want to represent Shai,” and my mom was
like, “What's an agent?” We finally just learned as we progressed. I had
three rules growing up to stay in acting. I had to stay kid they knew I
was, stay good in school, and have fun. As long as I met those three
requirements, I could act. So, instead of going to soccer practice, I
went to auditions.
Moderator What direction would you like to see Amy go in?
S. Woodley I think that Amy has done a lot of growing over the past two
years, especially over the past year. I think that she's kind of come
into her own and become more of a woman, and accepted more
responsibility and didn’t complain about it. But, I think she has this
need to prove to others that she's happy and that Ricky and her are
happy. I would like to see Amy kind of be so secure with herself and so
confident in her own personality and her beauty—I'm not talking about
physical, I'm talking about emotional—beauty that she is able to live
her life without feeling that she needs the approval from others.
Moderator You were talking before about cliques in high school, I'm
wondering what you were like in high school and were you similar to Amy.
S. Woodley I was nothing like Amy. I was kind of like the outgoing. I
was in leadership. I was in charge pep rallies with some other friends.
I was really involved. I was in choir. I was in Key Club and Builder's
Club and all those clubs that you can imagine. I loved school. I loved
the educational aspect of it, as well the social aspect of it.
I don't know, I was never part of a clique. I feel like I was the
person—me and a few friends were kind of the people who liked bounced
around between all the groups. We were kind of like the mold. I loved
high school. It was an amazing experience … there was progression. As a
freshman I was very insecure and not so set in stone about where I
wanted to be in life and who I was. Then, by senior year I feel like I
totally did that transition into—I don't want to say a woman because I
don't ever want to be a woman. I want to be a kid forever, but—I made
that transition into maturity, I guess.
Moderator Why should people tune into the season premiere of Secret
S. Woodley There's going to be a lot of surprises. I know that we've
been advertising the proposal, but there's obviously the reaction from
that. We need to know what he says. I think people will want to know why
she proposes to him. As well as, with the other characters there's just
a lot going on there. Ben and Adrian's relationship, they really kind of
step it up notch, I think people will want to see that. Then, there's
the relationship between the parents, so there's a lot going on.
Moderator In what ways does Secret Life show the consequences of
S. Woodley I think that Secret Life shows what can happen if you're not
careful and what can happen if you're not prepared and not educated.
Obviously, there's the pregnancy. Obviously, there's broken hearts.
There's the pregnancy and there's physical things that can happen. It is
dangerous to do things without being educated and without being so
pressured just because you could invite things into your body that you
don't want to invite, but there's also the emotional side of intimacy,
which is connection and doing something and then not seeing that person.
With Amy obviously, she got pregnant from Ricky, but there's an
emotional connection of, “Oh my gosh, this guy thinks I’m attractive.
This guy's interested in me and now he's not. What's wrong with me?” I
think a lot of girls do that. I think a lot of girls get into situations
and do certain things and then afterwards when it doesn't fulfill their
expectations or it doesn't turn out the way they expected it to have
turned out, then emotionally their broken. Emotionally they start
questioning themselves and questioning what's wrong with them. I think
it's important to know that no matter how a situation happens or ends
up, you are an incredible human being, regardless. I think we kind of
show that it's smart to wait to be with somebody who you know you're
going to be comfortable around and you know who is going to treat you
Moderator How would you compare Secret Life to other shows about teen
pregnancy like, Teen Mom?
S. Woodley I don't think that there's any way to compare them, just
because their two completely different shows. Teen Mom is obviously a
reality show. To be completely honest, I don't own a television so I
haven't really watched …. They're totally different. Secret Life is
scripted. I don't know enough about Teen Mom to really compare them, but
it is a reality show so they're very different.
Moderator I wondered if Amy still has feelings for Ben and how she's
dealing with his engagement or planned engagement to Adrian.
S. Woodley I assume that Amy still has feelings for Ben just because he
was there for her for so long and helped her out in so many ways.
However, I know that she loves Ricky and I know that she wants to be
with Ricky. I think it's the same for most relationships. Like even
after you break up, you still have feelings for that person because you
devoted so much of your life and your energy to that person. Just
because, Amy, I think still loves Ben and would do anything for him as a
human being, I don't think she necessarily wants to be with him again.
But, I'm sure on the same note, it's probably hard for her to see him
moving on because I think it’s hard for anyone to see an ex moving on.
Moderator How did the teen mom program in New York change Amy?
S. Woodley I think that being involved with so many other girls who were
going through the same thing that she was going through really opened up
her eyes to the fact that she's not alone. I think it really grew her up
in a lot of ways because she didn't have the right really to complain
anymore because she wasn't the only one going through and she actually
has it pretty good. She has parents who, even though it's hard on them
they support her and they help her out. She has Ricky now, the father of
her child who's there for her, when so many girls don't have either of
those options. I think it opened her eyes to realm of possibilities and
let her know that this is how it might be a tribulation right now, but
they'll get through it and her life is ultimately going to be
Moderator When you first read the script for the show, what was it about
Amy that appealed to you and about the character?
S. Woodley The character appealed to me because she was different from
all of those glamorous— I love Gossip Girl. I think it's entertaining. I
think it's awesome, but I don't think a lot of people can relate to it
because I don't think a lot of people are able to live those lifestyles.
I think Amy's character really appealed to me because not only was her
life going through all of these difficulties, but she lives in a
household where her parents were getting divorced and fighting and where
her sister wasn't the easiest person to get along with.
I thought it was kind of important to show girls across the U.S. as well
as across the world that you're not alone. My parents got divorced and
even though it was a very healthy, great divorce, it still is difficult
as a young child. I think that it's important for kids to be able to
tune into show where they can relate to the character. I think Amy is
very relatable for a lot of people.
Moderator Do you have other projects you're working on or anything else
coming up that you could talk about?
S. Woodley I'm not working on anything right now. I worked on a movie
last year and that is going to—actually, we just got … yesterday. It's
going to premiere December 16th.
Moderator What's that for?
S. Woodley It's called The Descendants.
Moderator I was wondering what it's like working with Secret's Life
newest cast member, Beverley Mitchell?
S. Woodley Oh, Beverley Mitchell's awesome. I don't get to work with her
too often just because we don't have many scenes together, but she's
really great. She's super sweet and it's cool to see her back on set
just because she knows all the crew members because she worked with
everyone on 7th Heaven. She's great. She's really professional and
really nice and sweet. It's great to have her on.
Moderator We’ve been following a lot about your new movie that you were
just talking about, The Descendants. Can you tell us a little bit more
about your character in the movie?
S. Woodley My character in the movie's name is Alex and she's a bit
different from Amy. She was kind of the trouble maker. She did drugs and
drank a lot in high school and was sent to a boarding school to kind of
clean her up and get her act together. Throughout the movie, she kind of
progresses into this incredible person. She's kind of one of those
girls—she’s comes off as rough around the edges, but deep down she has a
heart of gold. She helps her dad kind of become a dad and she helps grow
up her little sister. I don't know, it's really great to see that
transition of a hard tough teenager to young adult, like soft kind of
Moderator What are Amy's plans for after high school?
S. Woodley After high school I know that Amy I think would love to go to
college just because she loves to learn, she loves to be informed and
she loves to know what's going on in the world. But, she does have a son
and she's dating Ricky so I think it might be possible for her to be a
stay-at-home mom for a while, while Ricky goes to college. But,
ultimately I think Amy's dream would be for both of them to be able to
go to college and both of them embark in incredible career paths.
Moderator What's stopping Amy from having sex with Ricky again, other
than obviously the fact that they had a baby last time?
S. Woodley I think she's being smart about it and intelligent this time.
I think that she's taking the appropriate precautions because Ricky has
been with a lot of girls. I know that she wants to ask him to make sure
that—maybe get tested to make sure that there's no danger involved in it
to her own body or there's no risks. I think that emotionally standing
she wants to be sure that he wants to be with her for her and not just
for the physical benefits.
Moderator So, Amy proposed to Ricky, I'm wondering what your perfect
marriage proposal would be. How would it play out?
S. Woodley It would definitely have to be outdoors, just because I live
for the outdoors. It would have to be outside. I don't know, I don't
really enjoy big things, so I think some kind of small amazing—like
maybe on a beautiful hike near a waterfall or something like that.
Something that is very connected to nature would be the perfect proposal
Moderator What do you do when Secret Life is on hiatus?
S. Woodley I try to never be in L.A. I love to travel. It's one of my
biggest passions. Hawaii is kind of like a home to me. I absolutely
adore it there. Whenever I have time off I'm either in Hawaii or
backpacking somewhere in the world. A few hiatus's ago I moved to New
York for a few months and lived out there. Last August, we had a month
off and my friend and I went backpacking through Europe and stayed in
hostels and stuff, so I don't know, anything that has to do with being
Moderator How do you think Secret Life is different than other shows
about kids in high school for instance, Gossip Girl and 90210?
S. Woodley I think it's different because like I said earlier, Gossip
Girl and 90210, they're very entertaining. They have a lot going on, but
I don't think they're very relatable to a lot of girls or boys for that
manner of that demographic … that age just in the sense that not
everyone can throw a ball on every Friday night and wear fancy designer
dresses and go dance.
I think those shows are really awesome and fun to kind of fantasize and
watch, but I think Secret Life is more realistic. Just in sense that it
deals with issues that everyday high school students have to deal with.
Also, the clothes they wear and the school and the … I think are more
general, general as far as realistic like what teens are actually going
Moderator Are you and George Clooney from The Descendants bff's now?
What was it like working with him?
S. Woodley Well, we're not bff's, but he's a really phenomenal human
being. He is so down to earth I cannot even tell you. You would never
think that he was the sexiest man alive twice, because he's just so down
to earth and so normal. He's super professional. He shows up to work on
time. He knows his lines. He is an incredible actor. Every single take
was just outstanding. He's super intelligent. He knows everything about
everything, whether it has to do with politics or movies or—he just
knows everything. He's like an encyclopedia. He's hilarious. He is one
of the funniest people I've ever met in my entire life, if not the
Moderator What's your favorite music?
S. Woodley Bands, I don't know, I have a lot of favorites. I like a lot
of older music, I love Simon and Garfunkel. I love The Beatles; they're
always on my iPod. But, I also like newer bands like, Arcade Fire, Blue
Foundation, Animal Collective and then E3. I love like Aretha Franklin.
I don't know, my musical range is so broad.
Moderator Will Amy's parent’s separation be hard on her?
S. Woodley I think it's going to be hard on any child whose parents are
separating, but I think that Amy wants ultimately what's best for her
parents, so she'll support them in that. But, I think, yeah, I think
it's definitely going to be a little bit tricky for her even if she
doesn't express it.
Moderator Can Amy trust Ricky not to cheat?
S. Woodley I think that's why she's waiting to sleep with him. Because,
she wants to for sure know that he is committed to her and only her. I
think she does trust him right now. I think she trusts him just
because—I don't know, they have a really special connection and I think
she just feels like she can trust him. So, yes, I think she does.
Moderator What do you think is the most difficult part of portraying a
S. Woodley I guess the most difficult part would be that I'm not a
teenage mother. Sometimes people will come up to me in my normal life
and be like, “Oh, my gosh, I love Secret Life. I just had a baby. I'm
19. Do you have advice?” I'm like, “Well, actually I just read the
lines. I'm not really pregnant. I don't know what to tell you.” So,
that's— I mean, that's kind of a silly one. There isn't really anything
hard about it now because I've kind of … myself in it, but in the
beginning in Season 1, I did a lot of research as far as the physical
aspects of being pregnant and how you hold yourself and how you carry
yourself. But, emotionally I just pretended like I was in that situation
and how I would react as Shailene.
Moderator Let's say you were Brenda Hampton and you wrote the script.
How would you change it and what direction would you go in?
S. Woodley I really love everything that's Brenda's done. I think being
so many seasons along there has been so many ups and downs and changes.
I think it's been great. Everyone has kind of come into their own and I
really like what she's done with the relationships. I don’t think I
would change anything. I really love seeing what happens each week. We
get the scripts a week in advance, so we read them and it's like we're
watching the show because it's new to us. It's a surprise every week.
Also, be sure to tune-in on Mondays at 8/7c for all new
episodes of Secret Life!
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