Eldest daughter of Lori Victor, a school counselor, and Lonnie Woodley, a headmaster, was born in the San Bernardino Valley, in California, where she lives with her parents and younger brother Tanner. Parents will separate later, during adolescence than Shailene. Five years began acting earning her first part in show business in 1999, when hired to play a small role in the TV movie Replacing Dad. Later participates in several television series, including Without a Trace, The District, The O.c. and Crossing Jordan.
Achieves success thanks to the role of Amy Juergens in the ABC Family television series The Secret Life of the American Teenager whose protagonist since 2008. The series revolves around the teenage Amy events grappling with an unexpected pregnancy at 15 years and the repercussions that this has on their lives. In 2011, she gets his first role for the cinema, participating in the film The Descendants by Alexander Payne, won the Independent Spirit Awards and receiving a Golden Globe nomination in 2012 for Best Supporting Actress. In 2012 she was chosen to play the role of Mary Jane Watson in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, turning her scenes in the first months of 2013; in June, however, it was announced that her scenes were cut from the film and the actress will appear perhaps in any sequels.
In 2013 the actress says in The Spectacular Nowand assumes the role of protagonist in the movie Divergent, based on the novel by Veronica Roth, alongside Theo James. The film was released in spring 2014, it grossed 288 million worldwide. Shailene has also been confirmed as the lead in the three movie sequels: Insurgent, Allegiant and Ascendant.
In 2014 she starred in The Fault in Our Stars, based on the novel by John Green, who sees the actress in the title role Hazel Grace Lancaster alongside Ansel Elgort (Augustus), a companion of shooting in Divergent. In 2015 she is nominated for a BAFTA award for best emerging star. In 2016 she starring alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the thriller Snowden directed by Oliver Stone, and that tells the story of a former coach of the CIA investigated by the US government. In October 2016 was arrested while protesting along with the Sioux against a project for an oil pipeline in North Dakota, and was released the same evening.