She may be only 19 years old, but Hailee Steinfeld has been famous for six years. She first vaulted to international attention at age 14 when her performance as a gun-toting farm girl in the Coen brothers’ 2010 epic, True Grit, earned her an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress. “Entering Hollywood so young, I don’t think I was aware of anything, other than the fact that I was having fun, in a serious way,” Steinfeld says, adding sheepishly, “I had no idea that asking 500 questions on set every day was too much.”
While the acting plaudits rolled in, Steinfeld was also quietly working on music,”since my parents bought me an amplifier and microphone when I was, like, eight—the worst thing they could have done to themselves!” Then, last year, she used her role as a college a cappella singer in Pitch Perfect 2 to unveil her voice, which opened the door for a record deal with Republic, her debut EP, Haiz (so-called for her fan-given nickname), and its megahit single, “Love Myself,” which broke 80 million views on YouTube.
Basically, Steinfeld knows how to make an entrance. “Love Myself” ‘s innuendo-filled lyrics stirred a media frenzy that was further intensified when Steinfeld appeared in the music video wearing a leotard emblazoned with the words SELF SERVICE. The formerly prim, headband-wearing teen, it seemed, had gone a little Miley.
“Obviously it was something I was aware of,” Steinfeld says playfully of the lyrical interpretations. Is it sex-positive? “It’s about how much power there is in self-love and being able to provide for yourself,” she says. “I don’t think loving yourself is easy, but I’m realizing the importance of it more and more.”
Steinfeld became a style star long ago, beginning with a Miu Miu campaign in 2011, and today hitting the red carpet in a series of jumpsuits and looks from Valentino, Stella McCartney, and Rosie Assoulin. The conversation turns to beauty, and she proclaims herself chairman of the Kate Moss fan club. “It’s not like top five—she’s my number one,” she says, admitting that “I carry pictures of Kate Moss to the salon” and to her makeup artist, Stephen Sollitto, with whom she’s worked since True Grit. But Steinfeld’s best makeup tips, and often her makeup itself, she steals from best friend Sophie Wood. “I nabbed her Laura Mercier Eye Art Artist’s Palette—shhh,” Steinfeld confesses. Her latest trick? “I use Scotch tape to get my eyeliner right, basically like a stencil. Sophie always sends me video links for new things she’s learned. Thankfully no one’s walked in on me attempting it yet!”
Hailee Steinfeld plays the childhood game MASH to find out her future with Laura Brown:
Hailee Steinfeld teaches Laura Brown the Macarena:
Just as John Hughes was able to expertly capture the true emotions of children and teens on screen in his 1980s classics, newcomer Kelly Fremon is shining a light on being a teenager in 2016 with “The Edge of Seventeen.” Hailee Steinfeld stars as a high school student on the cusp of adulthood trying to balance the social aspects of life in the comedic drama, which is both directed and penned by Fremon.
STX presented the first trailer for the film Tuesday at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, and it didn’t disappoint. In it, Hailee’s character, Nadine Byrd, says there “two types of people” in the world, those who “radiate confidence” and those who hope that people “die in a big explosion.” Her being the latter, she finds little solace in the world of high school and connects with just one other, her best friend Krista (Hayley Lu Richardson).
Nadine’s world comes crushing down on her when she discovers her one and only pal is in love with her hunky and popular brother (Blake Jenner). When her mother (Kyra Sedwick) in no help to her plights, she goes looking for guidance from a teacher, played by Woody Harrelson, and also finds little comfort. After she tells him she’s going to kill herself, he too says he’s planning his own suicide and writing his farewell letter beforr having his small lunch break interrupted by a whining student with poor fashion sense. Despite his lack of support, she goes back to him for other inquiries, asking if her romantic sext to her crush was appropriate. (Spoiler alert: It’s definitely X-rated.)
At CinemaCon, “The Edge of Seventeen” star dished about her role. Despite being an actress and up-and-coming singer, Steinfeld said she’s surrounded herself both with longtime friends and family and has known s normal life. “I’ve had 19 years of it,” she quipped when asked if she had enough teen experiences to fill the role. Calling the script both “honest” and “truthful,” she said she was able to “identity with so many moments” in the story.
“The Edge of Seventeen” premieres in theaters Sept. 30.
She was in Manila, Philippines recently as part of her Asia promotional tour for her debut EP, “Haiz”. We packed up and flew about 2,400km across the South China Sea to meet her. Here’s what went down during the interview:
Welcome to Asia! What were you looking forward to most when you heard that you were coming to Asia?
Oh my goodness! Well, with the Philippines more specifically, I’ve never been here but I’ve always wanted to come. My grandfather is Filipino so it has always been a topic of discussion (coming to the Philippines) so I’m very happy to be here.
You’re an all-round talent but you were an actress first before a recording artiste. Which would you say was your most memorable role and why?
I would have to say “True Grit”. I was 13 years old and that was the first movie I ever made. And, I mean it’s extremely memorable for just that reason but so many others being..the people that I’ve worked with, they made such an impact on me as an actress and as a person, it was really just all around an amazing experience.
Now that you’re venturing into singing, how are you planning to juggle that, and acting, and modelling?
I have nooo idea! (laughs) Um, no I think..I’m just taking it one day at a time and right now the main focus is my music and making the album. And if a film comes up then I’ll figure out how the heck I’m gonna do it ?
How do the challenges compare, between the 3 things that you do – acting, modelling, and now singing?
Acting and singing are my 2 main..that’s what I enjoy the most and that’s what I do. I think the main challenge in acting would be sort of..I guess..I mean it’s what it is – taking on a role that is challenging. The reason I would take on a challenging role would be because it’s something that I wouldn’t normally see myself doing or something that I haven’t necessarily experienced. So that’s always challenging..kinda jumping into something that I’ve never really done. With music I think it’s equally as challenging and equally as vulnerable..and that I’m telling my own story and I’m putting a message out to the world with my name on it. Which is..you know, challenging as well.