Shailene Woodley believes in equality for all.
Feminism, by its very definition, is about equality—but Woodley will never call herself a feminist. "The reason why I don't like to say that I am a feminist or I am not a feminist is because to me it's still a label. I do not want to be defined by one thing. Why do we have to have that label to divide us?" the Insurgent star asks in NYLON's April 2015 issue, on newsstands March 31. "We should all be able to embrace one another regardless of our belief system and regardless of the labels that we have put upon ourselves."
Woodley first said she wasn't a feminist in May 2014. "I love men, and I think the idea of 'raise women to power, take the men away from the power' is never going to work out because you need balance. With myself, I'm very in touch with my masculine side. And I'm 50 percent feminine and 50 percent masculine, same as I think a lot of us are. And I think that is important to note. And also I think that if men went down and women rose to power, that wouldn't work either. We have to have a fine balance."
The actress, 23, also told Time, "I don't know how we as women expect men to respect us because we don't even seem to respect each other. There's so much jealousy, so much comparison and envy, and, 'This girl did this to me and that girl did that to me.' And it's just so silly and heartbreaking in a way."
Woodley was caught off-guard by the level of scrutiny her comments received.
"I mean, if we spent as much energy focusing on the genocide that's going on right now in parts of Africa as we spent on that one article, think about what we could accomplish," the 23-year-old Fault in Our Stars star tells NYLON. "Change is not going to come from focusing on the small things that actors say."
Woodley takes her celebrity status in stride, explaining, "I feel like I've always had a very weird distance with quote-unquote 'fans' and myself. When I played Hazel Grace [in The Fault in Our Stars], I wasn't Shailene. I was Hazel for those months…It was breathing life into another young woman and her entire story. And so the whole realm of people being fans of me, individually, just always feels so very odd."
Acting doesn't define who Woodley is. "It does take up 10 to 11 months of my entire year, so it is my career now," she says. "It's still just a hobby, just something that I live and breathe to do. In a few years, I'll probably take some years off to explore the other things that I'd love to do while I'm still in my 20s."
That being said, Woodley reveals she dreams of starring in a "big, stylish musical." However, her days of playing a teenager are over. "Two years ago it was very easy for me to understand and also emotionally tell the story of a 16-year-old, and now, I feel like I could not tell that story as truthfully because I just can't empathize with it," Woodley tells the magazine. "I'm not there on an emotional level anymore."
Woodley has two more installments of the Divergent series to shoot. Of her character, she says, "Tris was not born a superhero, but what I love about her is that you can watch her progression into a strong young woman. Whenever I go back to playing Tris, I feel like, 'Yes, I'm going back to Tris, but I am also going back to Shai and who Shai was in 2012, and who she was in 2014.' If I hadn't changed, it would be easier...but the last two years have been very powerful for me. I'm starting to empower myself."