Shailene Woodley shares mentality around speaking out on issues: 'Don't speak unless you know' (Exclusive)
In a world where everyone wants to share their opinion on seemingly every topic imaginable, Shailene Woodley has a refreshingly more careful approach to speaking out.
The "Big Little Lies" actress helped American Express kick off its #BackOurOceans campaign this week and, in a sit-down interview with AOL's Gibson Johns celebrating the launch, Woodley said that her modus operandi as a public figure when it comes to tackling societal, political or environmental issues is "don't speak unless you know."
"I will not talk about anything unless I know even just a little bit about it," she told AOL. "If, right now, you were to ask me a question about something I didn’t know about, I would just be honest and say, 'I actually don’t have the answer to that, but I want to know the answer to that.'"
"More than not speaking out, it’s about [the fact that] we don’t speak to understand anymore. We speak to hear ourselves speak, and I think that’s where the biggest discrepancy lies," Woodley continued. "We speak to hear noise, but we don’t speak to ask the questions that need to be asked."
The 27-year-old actress applied the same logic to her decision to help promote AmEx's partnership with Parley for the Oceans, which involves not only the first-ever American Express card made primarily of reclaimed plastic from beaches, but also a call to action on social media in to help remove up to a million pounds of plastic through beach clean-ups.
"I don’t feel like I have to be one-hundred percent educated around something: I’m not a scientist, I’m not a marine biologist, I know nothing about the ocean, but I know I have passion and I care deeply on an emotional level," Woodley explained to AOL. "I may know two or three statistics out of the many that exist, but that doesn’t matter; what matters is that I connect emotionally with something, and the through-line to that desire for a solution is asking the people who do know questions and being a channel from them, using what I learned with my accessibility. My piece of the puzzle is being able to spread awareness."
What it also comes down to for Woodley is everyone coming together with one shared goal, otherwise, she sees accomplishing anything like significantly decreasing the amount of plastic in our oceans as unattainable.
"At the end of the day, it’s so easy to be radical and an extremist about issues and have anger toward particular people or notions, but what needs to happen is corporations need to start partnering with people on the ground, and people on the ground need to start partnering with corporations and various politicians, because we all have a piece of this pie that, together, we need to heal," she said. "The puzzle is so big and vast, that if we don’t have every single piece of it in alignment, we aren’t going to come to any kind of solution."
Learn more about American Express and Parley for the Oceans' #BackOurOceans initiative below: