Most of us, when watching a movie, have had the sensation of witnessing a star being born. In 2010, that’s how I felt about Hailee Steinfeld when I first saw her in the Coen Brothers’ Western flick True Grit. The then-13-year-old actress more than held her own alongside seasoned pros Jeff Bridges and Josh Brolin, playing a young farm girl determined to avenge her father, a role that rightfully earned the newcomer a nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Her star factor was only further solidified when I spotted her next in Begin Again as the rebellious daughter to Mark Ruffalo’s deadbeat dad. When in 2015, it was announced that she would star in Pitch Perfect 2, I have to admit I was more than a little perplexed by this choice. Despite the success of the first musical comedy installment, why would Steinfeld step away from playing more complex roles in favor of playing a happy-go-lucky college girl dying to join an a cappella club? Soon after she flawlessly belted out the lyrics to “Flashlight” in the film’s final scene, the answer to came in the form of the launch of Steinfeld’s music career: The now-19-year-old’s debut EP, Haiz, dropped that November.
Her first single, “Love Myself,” proved to be an effortlessly catchy self-empowerment anthem, with not-so-subtle innuendos alluding to masturbation. The second single off of the EP found her collaborating with Joe Jonas’ band, DNCE, on an explosive electro-pop banger, “Rock Bottom.” With sounds this infectious, it’s no wonder that Steinfeld already scored a tour opening up for Meghan Trainor.
On the heels of her most recent single, a collaboration with Zedd titled “Starving,” we caught up with multihyphenate at the Swarovski Crystaldust collection celebration in the midst of New York Fashion Week—a day after her performance at NYLON’s very own Rebel Fashion Party and ahead of the Toronto Film Festival which sees the premiere of her new coming-of-age film, The Edge of Seventeen. Dazzling in a crystal-embellished jumpsuit and rocking the shimmery Crystaldust bangles, she gave us the scoop on her tour with Trainor, the meaning behind “Starving,” and what it was like to work with Woody Harrelson.