Who Is Shailene Woodley? The Descendants Star Brings Us To Tears For Breakout Actress Week

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Awards season has long been the perfect time for the movie industry’s fresh faces to gain exposure at movie premieres, on red carpets and in a barrage of print and TV interviews. Often, it’s when we first become aware of young actresses, like Oscar nominees Hailee Steinfeld and Jennifer Lawrence last year. This year, it’s not just teenagers catching our eye; a few ladies who’ve been around for decades are finally getting their due as well. All week long, we at TheFablife are saluting these women and looking forward to what they’ll bring us after the last statuettes are handed out on Sunday. Berenice Bejo kicked things off yesterday, and now we turn to …

Who: Shailene Woodley

Age: 21

What she did before 2011: Shailene was a pro before she turned 10, landing a number of guest roles before playing Kaitlin Cooper in The O.C. (she was later replaced by Willa Holland because, in her words, she didn’t hit puberty soon enough). Since 2008 she’s been starring as the original Teen Mom, Amy Jeurgens in ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager.

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Why we’re paying attention now: As George Clooney’s daughter Alex in The Descendants, she manages to be a smart-ass teen and a mature, relatable girl as she learns her mother isn’t going to come out of a coma. We dare you not to sob during her underwater scene.

“She’s not just a really great actress,” Clooney told VH1 at the CCMAs. “She’s like a really normal smart young woman. I’m really impressed with her.”

Though she didn’t get the Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination many were expecting, this awards season has been her chance to shine — and to show the world that a child star can grow up to be a very sincere, down-to-earth woman. “She’s going places. And she’s nice as pie,” Descendants director Alexander Payne told us.

What’s next? Secret Life just got renewed for its fifth season. As for movies, Woodley said she really would like to play someone her own age soon, and we’re sure the roles will start coming very soon!

[Photos: Fox Searchlight, Vs. magazine, Getty Images]

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