Hollywood's New Age starlet

Hollywood's New Age starlet
Divergent.

As the star of Divergent, a new young adult book-to-movie adaptation modelled after The Hunger Games (2008), 22-year-old Shailene Woodley is poised to give Jennifer Lawrence a run for her money as Hollywood's new It girl.

As it did with The Hunger Games star and Oscar winner Lawrence, 23, the publicity machine cranking up ahead of the movie's opening this week has cast her as an outsider - a down-to-earth, plain- speaking tomboy and occasional goofball who does not fit into the archetypical mould of a starlet.

But Woodley seems to be taking it further as she talks openly about her alternative, eco-friendly, New Age lifestyle, which apparently involves studying herbalism, making her own lotions and creams, reading horoscopes, wearing second-hand clothes, drinking spring water that she gathers herself and washing her hair once a month.

When she meets Life! and a group of other reporters in Los Angeles, she walks into the hotel room barefoot with a deer-antler pendant around her neck.

She is quick to point out that the themes in Divergent - the first of three films based on a series of best-selling books by Veronica Roth about a dystopian society where people have been segregated into five factions - are consistent with her passion for causes such as the environment and her own thoughts about social conformity.

"When I read this book, I really responded not only to the storyline and entertainment value, but also there are so many messages that I'm really passionate about for today's society," she says.

The film, in which she plays a girl, Tris, who rebels against society's expectations, holds up a mirror to problems that exist in the real world.

"The movie deals with genocide, for goodness' sake. And you have these young people running around with guns killing people and it doesn't glamorise that."

As for the underlying message about staying true to yourself even if you do not fit in, "the title alone is so powerful".

She adds: "To me, 'divergent' means every day waking up and owning my day before my day owns me. Like, being the full expression of myself and going out into the world and diverging from mediocrity, and sometimes talking about things that maybe we're not supposed to talk about."

And the things that she wants to talk about range from the dangers of genetically-modified food to the dangerous example set by another young adult franchise, the vampire-romance books and movies based on the Twilight saga.

"Twilight, I'm sorry, is about a very unhealthy, toxic relationship," she told Teen Vogue recently, adding that its heroine, Bella, "falls in love with this guy and the second he leaves her, her life is over and she's going to kill herself. What message are we sending to young people? That is not going to help this world evolve".

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