What happened to the girl who played Prim on The Hunger Games?

Everyone knows how the story goes: Katniss Everdeen, a young woman from District 12, forever changed the course of her destiny when she volunteered to fight to the death in Panem's annual Hunger Games. She bravely stepped in to save her sister, Primrose "Prim" Everdeen, from an almost certain death. Katniss goes on the win the games and spark a revolution, but in the end, [SPOILER ALERT!]  Prim is killed in the struggle for independence from the Capitol.

Even though the movies have long since wrapped and broken box office records, we haven't forgotten any of it — not just the characters, but also the actors who played them. J-Law's obviously been busy, because she's J-Law. Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson have also been working steadily.

But whatever happened to Willow Shields, the girl who played Prim in The Hunger Games? Has she dropped off the radar entirely or is she also working on projects? And what does she have planned for the future? Here's everything we dug up on Shields, who's been busier than you'd think!

ABQ born and bred

Despite her movie star good looks, Shields didn't grow up in Malibu as the daughter of a famous Hollywood celeb. Rather, she grew up in New Mexico with her art teacher dad and homeschooling mom, along with her brother and fraternal twin sister. The family enjoyed a normal life there, dining at regular restaurants and browsing at regular bookstores — just like the rest of us.

Prior to her big break on The Hunger Games, Shields had already landed a few minor roles in film and television, such as bit parts in In Plain Sight on the USA Network and a role in Beyond the Blackboard for the Hallmark Channel. When she submitted a video audition for the role of Prim in the The Hunger Games, director Gary Rose took notice, and sent Shields a call-back.

Naturally, Shields hopped on a plane right away. "My mom and I flew to L.A. and I met with Gary, the producer and the casting director," Shields told the Albuquerque Journal. "And right after I auditioned, I got the part on the spot. Since then, my life has changed. I was so surprised that I couldn't speak." Understandable, girl!

The end of an era

If you've ever really loved an assignment or job that had to come to an end, you'll empathize with Shields, who got pretty attached to her role in The Hunger Games franchise. After all, she spent five years on set as Prim. And as she told Teen Vogue, the ending was "bittersweet. … It's this wonderful thing and everyone is proud of the final film, but it's sad to say goodbye, too — to each other, to the characters, and to the fans." Someone is definitely cutting onions in here.

Shields learned a lot on set, and did a lot of growing up there. "Most of what I learned was about coming to work every day and loving it, and being a part of something creative and working as a group to make it special," she continued. "Having fun and loving what you do… without that, there's nothing." Shields was already cast in future films when she finished shooting for the franchise, so it was time to spread her wings and go.

A fall from grace

One of Shield's first gigs after The Hunger Games made her famous was quite different from the YA blockbuster franchise: she was cast as Grace in A Fall From Grace, an indie detective thriller. The film's director? None other than Jennifer Chambers Lynch, daughter of legendary director David Lynch, according to Flaunt magazine. So it's hard not to get our hopes up.

For Lynch, Shields brings something special to the set. "Willow has a bravery about her that is authentic and genuinely 'Human,'" she shared with Flaunt. And Shields is equally, if not more excited to have landed such a coveted role. "So excited to be part of a Jennifer Lynch film!" she gushed in an Instagram post

Shields will share the screen with legends like Forest Whitaker, Tim Roth, David Lynch, and Vincent D'Onofrio — quite impressive! And although filming started in 2013, according to the Hollywood Reporter, the film doesn't yet have an official release date.

The odds weren't in her favor

In 2015, Shields was once again presented with the opportunity of a lifetime: she was invited to be on Dancing With The Stars, paired with Mark Ballas. "It was like the scariest experience of my entire life, but also the most amazing thing I've ever done," she revealed in an interview with Hollywood Today. "I was actually dancing ten hours a day, six days a week for the show…dancing these crazy things I'd never even done before." And that was with seriously minimal breaks! Check out a compilation of their inspired routines here.

If you watch the show on the reg, you know how devastated Shields was when she found out she had been eliminated. "I was kind of surprised, honestly," she revealed to Access in an interview. "Having that triumphant moment and then being sent home? It's just kind of hard to, you know, have happen." She added that the real reason she got so upset was because she genuinely loved the experience, and didn't want it to end. We didn't either, Willow!

She finally got a phone!

In the era of the smartphone, it's become more and more rare for people not to have one, especially teenagers. But Shields was one of those outliers for many years, which helped her cultivate other passions as she wasn't glued to a screen. "It's good for young girls to focus more on real life experiences than something through the phone," she shared with Nylon magazine in 2015. "I mean, I don't even have a phone." As crazy as that sounds, it was true for a long time!

Shields did finally get her hands on a phone, eventually, at the ripe old age of 15. In an interview with Hollywood Today, she opened up about the experience. "My parents were super strict about this, like, so strict," she said. She had to beg them for two years until they finally caved in! Shields isn't bitter that her parents held out for so long, either. "I liked getting a phone later on," she continued. Sounds like she's grateful, even!

Touching the rainbow

The next bullet point on Shield's growing resume was her role in Into the Rainbow, a fantasy adventure film released in 2017. In it, Shields plays Rachel, a teenager who, along with her friend, discovers a super-powered rainbow that transports them both to China. Sounds fun!

Shields believed in the film, and its ability to touch people. "I think that there's this, sort of, enchantment with it, and youth and heart that I really hope people get captured by," she said in an interview with SCAD District"It was very emotional to film, and there's a lot of, I think, things that young people will connect to with, specifically my character."

Although the film premiered in 2017, Shields had been cast long before. "I started the process of Into the Rainbow, the casting, years ago," she continued. But the film's producers didn't lose sight, even as the process took longer than usual. Plus, they knew they could count on Shields to be on board. "Even as the film took longer to get up and running, they kept with me, and we developed something I think people are really going to like," she added.

A rising star

Given all that Shields has been up to, and considering all of her accomplishments — at such a young age! — it's totally not surprising that she was the recipient of the Rising Star Award at the 20th Annual SCAD Savannah Film Festival. Shields collected the honor alongside legends like Mariska Hargitay (Humanitarian Award), Kyra Sedgwick (Spotlight Award), and Ashley Judd (Virtuoso Award), according to Variety. Talk about a party we'd like to crash!

Shields was clearly delighted to receive the award. "It's very thrilling! Rising star — that's quite a title!" she gushed in an interview with SCAD District. Who wouldn't be thrilled to have their career acknowledged like that in front of Hollywood royalty? 

The actress also acknowledged the honor in a Tweet. "So humbled and honored to have received the Rising Star Award from the Savannah Film Festival today," she said. Chances are, then, that we'll be seeing a lot more of Shields in the future.

She knows how to work behind the camera, too

Shields may be best known for her acting, specifically as Prim in The Hunger Games, but she's actually quite talented in another area: photography. That's thanks, in part, to how she was raised. "My dad is a documentary film maker and I've grown up in a very artistic environment where my parents always pushed me and my siblings creatively on a daily basis, which is something that I'm truly grateful for at this point in my life," she revealed to Teen Vogue. Sounds like a parenting win for mom and dad!

That impactful upbringing helped to enrich Shield's artistic literacy, too. "I started to understand and comprehend the issues in our country because I recognized it through art," she continued. "Art triggers emotions inside of you that change the way that you think." So she's quite socially conscious, too. Shields isn't one to just point and shoot with her iPhone, either. In fact, she has worked for years to hone her technical skills, and uses a variety of tools, including a variety of cameras you can see in this Instagram post.

Committed to the sisterhood

On top of being socially conscious, Shields is also a feminist, something that's abundantly clear when you check out her art. In fact, she recently took one of her projects, entitled "Dear Social Media," on the road to Beautycon LA. The installation was inspired by her own turbulent experience on social media. "It's really important that we [shed] light [on] the issues women face on social media: not just by recognizing it, but by transforming it into an important, interesting issue," she said in an interview with Teen Vogue. "My goal is to do this through art." 

By giving women space to express themselves without fear of abuse or blowback, Shields is putting the spotlight on the very real issues women deal with every day. "If young women want to bare some skin then they should, and not be scared of what men will comment on their page, or what other women will judge them for," she continued. "If they want to share their thoughts on feminism or politics they should, without worrying about being viewed differently in the eyes of their followers." We are one hundred percent here for this!

Running off to Woodstock

You might not know it unless you follow Shields regularly on social media, but she actually has a killer set of pipes. She's also quite the guitar player; check out her singing and strumming on a post she made on Instagram. That makes her a natural choice for any movie roles that demand musical talent as she's already got the skills. 

To that end, Shields headed back in time to the Summer of Love — on set, anyway. That's because she's co-starring in Woodstock Or Bust, a film about two teenage girls on the road trip of a lifetime. They head cross-country from the west coast to New York, hoping to play at the famous Woodstock Music Festival in 1969 — in a 1965 Mustang convertible. Talk about an adventure! Although they finished filming in 2017, the film is set for release in 2019, according to IMDb. We can't wait to see it!