It's been almost seven years since Shailene Woodley starred on The Secret Life of the American Teenager. The 28-year-old actress looked back at the series in an interview with Bustle published last Friday.
In the show, Woodley played Amy Juergens, a 15-year-old student who becomes pregnant after she has sex with Ricky Underwood (Daren Kagasoff) at band camp. The program explored relationships, the stars' journeys through high school and Amy's experience as a new mom.
"I can only speak [about my characters' sex lives] through my experience with sex," Woodley told the outlet. "When I signed onto Secret Life, I read [three] episodes and I signed a contract for six years. [Those episodes] all hit home. I had friends in high school who were pregnant. It felt like everything that I wanted to be sending into the world."
The series also explored the concept of abstinence, such as by having characters wear promise rings or vow to not have sex until marriage.
At times, Woodley found herself struggling with the show's message.
"There were a lot of things that were written into the scripts that not just me, but a lot of the cast, disagreed with," she continued. "There were belief systems that were pushed that were different than my own. Yet legally I was stuck there. To this day it's one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. So being on Secret Life propelled me to be more vocal about my own belief systems."
The show ended in 2013. Woodley went on to act in other projects, including Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars.
"I lost my virginity like seven times on screen!" she told Bustle. "I lost my own virginity in a really unromantic, unsexy way, [so] it's very therapeutic for me that by playing these characters I was showing young women what they can wait for."
In 2017, she took on the role of Jane Chapman for the HBO series Big Little Lies. During her interview with Bustle, Woodley said she's "had very traumatic sexual experiences" and that she drew on these experiences to play her character.
"I translate[d] my personal trauma into what she was experiencing in the best way that I knew," Woodley said.
Near the end of the interview, Woodley spoke about her current views on sex.
"I love sex," she said. "I think it is one of the most underrated, underappreciated, and undervalued experiences that we have."
To read her full interview, head over to Bustle.