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."

12 PHOTOS
Shailene Woodley out and about in recent years
See Gallery
Shailene Woodley out and about in recent years
TORONTO, ONTARIO - SEPTEMBER 08: Shailene Woodley attends the "Endings, Beginnings" post TIFF premiere cocktail party presented by HUGO BOSS at Montecito Restaurant on September 08, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by George Pimentel/Getty Images for HUGO BOSS)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - SEPTEMBER 08: Shailene Woodley attends "Endings, Beginnings" premiere during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival at Ryerson Theatre on September 08, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - SEPTEMBER 07: Shailene Woodley attends the HFPA/THR TIFF PARTY during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival at Four Seasons Hotel on September 07, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - SEPTEMBER 07: (L-R) Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort attend The Hollywood Foreign Press Association and The Hollywood Reporter party at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival at Four Seasons Hotel Toronto on September 07, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by George Pimentel/Getty Images for The Hollywood Reporter)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 06: Shailene Woodley attends the 2019 Harper ICONS Party at The Plaza Hotel on September 06, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE! - "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" airs every weeknight at 11:35 p.m. EDT and features a diverse lineup of guests that include celebrities, athletes, musical acts, comedians and human interest subjects, along with comedy bits and a house band. The guests for Monday, July 15, included Shailene Woodley ("Big Little Lies"), Mike Epps ("Only One Mike"), and musical guest Garth Brooks. (Randy Holmes/ABC via Getty Images) SHAILENE WOODLEY
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 02: Actress Shailene Woodley attends the Vogue diner as part of Paris Fashion Week - Haute Couture Fall Winter 2020 at Le Trianon on July 02, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Marc Piasecki/WireImage)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 01: Shailene Woodley attends the Christian Dior Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2019 2020 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 01, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 11: Actress Shailene Woodley visits the SiriusXM Studios on June 11, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 1077 -- Pictured: Actress Shailene Woodley during an interview on June 10, 2019 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 10: Shailene Woodley attends 'In Conversation with Glamour's Samantha Barry: "Big Little Lies" at 92nd Street Y on June 10, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 08: Shailene Woodley attends the Conservation International + ELLE Los Angeles Gala at Milk Studios on June 08, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by David Poller Photography/Getty Images for Conservation International)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

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: 

Read Full Story

Sign up for Entertainment Insider by AOL to get the hottest pop culture news delivered straight to your inbox!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.