2 May 2018
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Hailee Steinfeld always knew that she wanted to sing. “I have been singing for as long as I can remember. I’m sure my parents would tell you the same,” she shares.

Her parents nurtured their daughter’s passion when she was seven and they bought her an amplifier and microphone. “Once they brought it home I believe they regretted that instantly,” says Steinfeld But I would set it up in front of the mirror at the bottom of our staircase. Every day I sang into this amplifier. The speaker would run throughout the house. And I would do it for hours and wouldn’t stop.”

Her repertoire was a medley of the last ten songs she had heard that day. She graduated to recording songs in a studio. One of the first songs she ever covered in the studio was “Count On Me” by Bruno Mars. “It was my first real introduction to being in a recording studio,” she says.

While Steinfeld was singing and recording cover songs, she had a parallel career. At same time, she was auditioning every day for acting gigs. Since she was eight she worked in commercials and on television. By the time she was 13, Steinfeld was cast as Mattie Ross in the Coen brothers western True Grit. She starred opposite Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper. The role was a total breakthrough and Steinfeld was nominated for an Academy Award. “Acting became my full-time focus for a couple of years,” she explains. But the music muse never left her. “I realized, I really wanted to get into music,” she says.

As much as she wanted share her musical voice with the world, she was also mindful of the timing. “I wanted it to feel right. Obviously timing is everything. I thought, I would really love for it to happen through a film. I didn’t want it to be, here I am, a movie came out last week and now I’m dropping an album. I wanted it to make sense. It all ended up coming together,” says Steinfeld who starred in Pitch Perfect II and then released a cover version of the song Flashlight that she sang in the film. “I’m so glad that it came when it did because I couldn’t have been more ready. The music journey has been a whole crazy ride.”

The crazy ride continues as Steinfeld’s proverbial candle is burning from every possible end. She attributes her success to having fierce mentors. “I started my career with some of the most incredible people and I’ve had my parents to guide me the whole way,” she explains. “My mom is probably the best advice-giver.”

Her current single “Let Me Go” features Florida Georgia Line, Alesso, and watt. Her song “Capital Letters” was featured on the Fifty Shades Freed Soundtrack. This July through September she joins Charlie Puth on The Voicenotes Tour. Later this year she stars in the movie Bumblebee. A huge cereal fan she also teamed up with Kellogg’s to celebrate National Cereal Day. Steinfeld visited Kellogg’s New York Café and performed before the giant “bowl drop” at the stroke of midnight.

Ever the multitasker Steinfeld has seamlessly evolved from actress to singer/actress. She always had the sense that she didn’t have to be one thing. “The first step is knowing that you can be anything and everything,” she explains.

Steinfeld offers guidance on how to joyfully transition your career:

1. When it comes to being passionate about something, you find ways to make it work. There is no doubt that it is challenging balancing both. But you make it happen. Surround yourself with people who are honest with you. It’s easy to sort of get wrapped up or find yourself with people who aren’t as genuine as you need them to be because they are in for themselves.

2. Stay true to who you are. Do whatever you are doing because it makes you happy. My mom and I have been telling this to ourselves for years. It started as the three P’s. And that is to be persistent, passionate, and to always be prepared when the time comes. We have come up with so many other words that start with P that fall under that category. So our three P’s have turned into one hundred P’s. For example, before True Grit, I shot a Nickelodeon pilot. The show had no musical tie-in. The audition process took place over a couple of weeks. We went through the process of the chemistry reads. I went in for my last audition and prepared a song just in case they asked me to sing. It was Michael Jackson’s “This Is It.” I watched that movie 100 times. And sure enough, they asked me to sing. In the end of the audition, they said, “We’re going to throw a curve ball at you. In the event that the show happens to go in this direction, would you mind singing for us?” I thought, oh my God I’m so ready for this. I was a nervous wreck, but I was prepared.

3. And this is probably one of my favorite examples. When the Coen brothers were doing their nationwide search for True Grit, it was right before Christmas break, before everyone was about to leave for the holidays. The sides were posted online. My mom called my agent and we were trying to figure out how I could get an audition. My agent said, “well they found their girl and it looks like they’re down to three. They’re going to make a decision after the break. We’ll see what we can do to see if we can get her in the room before they make a decision.” And then everybody went on break and I was kind of getting prepared to put myself on tape and send it in, in case I didn’t get the opportunity to go in. So I started basically working on the material. And sure enough Christmas break ended and I got an audition, and I was pretty prepared for that one.

4. As cliché as it might sound, don’t ever give up. I mean, it’s a crazy world. It’s a crazy business. There are a lot of opinions. There are a lot of people telling you who you should be or how you should dress or what you should do. You do you. Stay true to who you are, don’t ever give up on yourself and know that you’re capable of anything. If I can do it, you can do it too.

5. Be your authentic self. I started working at a young age and have worked with a lot of people who are much older. You get into certain situations and you want to adapt. You want to carry a conversation that you might not know anything about just because of the people who are with you. I did a movie not too long ago with Catherine Keener and Mark Ruffalo. In between takes they would be having conversations about actors, directors and writers who I didn’t know. At first, I would try and act like I knew what they were talking about when I didn’t. It is as simple as admitting that I had no idea what they were talking about. And sure enough they have become mentors to me and have introduced me to those writers, directors, and producers.”

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