And So Begins the Shailene Woodley Era

174694908JK00003_Screening_ Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Actors, like wedge sneakers or embarrassingly named whiskey cocktails, are trends. They have a moment, then get replaced, then we rediscover them fifteen or twenty years later and feel superior for having known them way back when. We’ve been riding a Melissa McCarthy wave (with Benedict Cumberbatch rising) for the past few months; 2012 saw the Reign of Channing Tatum and also the anointment of Jennifer Lawrence. Tomorrow, we get a new star: Her name is Shailene Woodley, and she is about to be everywhere. More specifically, Shailene Woodley, once of ABC Family, will star in The Spectacular Now (out tomorrow); Divergent, Summit’s much-touted Hunger Games wannabe (out March 2014); and The Fault in Our Stars, an adaptation of John Green’s beloved YA novel (out later in 2014). She is your new Teen Franchise (but with respected indie credentials!) Queen. So here is what to expect from the Great Shailene Woodley Era (2013–?).

Shailene Woodley talking about re-wilding.
Or Mother Earth, or positive energy, or those five-toed shoes she wore on the red carpet that one time (though, in her defense, it is the journalists who keep bringing that up). Shailene Woodley is something of a hippie, in an earnest, twentysomething-discovering-herself sort of way. It’s nice.

Shailene Woodley hugging people.
This goes with the above, but Woodley is really big on the hugging. Co-stars, reporters, whoever — she is very happy to meet you.

Shailene Woodley teaching fanboys an important lesson about not being assholes.
When Shailene Woodley was cast as Mary Jane Watson in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the fanboys were less than kind. (As in, they wrote hateful things about her appearance on their little message boards.) Mary Jane’s scenes didn’t make the cut, and it’s unclear whether she’ll be cast for the third movie. But regardless, the fanboys are gonna have to eat a little crow: They’ll either have to like a movie that she’s in, or they’ll have to feel stupid when she hits movie-star-status and doesn’t give them the time of day.

Shailene Woodley becoming the patron saint of ABC Family actresses.
Before she was the next big thing, Woodley was the star of a well-watched but not exactly highbrow ABC Family drama called The Secret Life of the American Teenager. You can already hear the sound bites from the Pretty Little Liars cast: “I’d like to do something more mature, but without alienating my fans. You know, like Shailene Woodley.”

Shailene Woodley being compared to Jennifer Lawrence.
Divergent, the dystopian action movie based on Veronica Roth’s YA series, will automatically put Shailene in a franchise category with Lawrence and Kristen Stewart. But there’s also the indie history (Woodley charmed critics with The Descendants; Lawrence with Winter’s Bone) and the aforementioned goofy enthusiasm. You do not have to choose between them! There is room for everyone at the franchise table.

Shailene Woodley being very talented.
There’s a scene in Spectacular Now when Shailene Woodley tells a group of adults (total asshole strangers at a dinner party, to be exact) that when she grows up she’ll be an astronaut, and her husband will be another MASH-worthy job (rancher, if memory serves), and they’ll live happily ever after. The adults chuckle, look at her condescendingly, tell her that sounds like a nice dream. “I think it’s good to have dreams, don’t you?” she responds — evenly, like she knows she’s being made fun of but like she knows she’s right, too. It just about broke my heart. There’s no guaranteeing the quality of Divergent, and the movie-to-movie incest might spoil Fault in Our Stars, but Woodley is a natural at teenage longing. She will be great. We all have something to look forward to.

And So Begins the Shailene Woodley Era