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Hailee Steinfeld is an American actress. She rose to fame for her portrayal as Mattie Ross in the 2010 film True Grit, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Steinfeld was born in Tarzana, Los Angeles, the daughter of Cheri, an interior designer, and Peter Steinfeld, a personal fitness trainer. She has an older brother, Griffin, and her uncle is fitness trainer Jake Steinfeld. Her father is Jewish and her maternal grandfather is Filipino. Steinfeld was raised in Agoura Hills and later in Thousand Oaks, California.
Hailee Steinfeld has fans from all over the demographic map. She recently recorded a duet with superstar Shawn Mendes (an acoustic version of his hit “Stitches”), which put her in front of a very young fan base. Slightly older fans may know her through her role in Pitch Perfect 2 or via her appearance in Taylor Swift‘s “Bad Blood” music video. An even older fan base still know her through her Oscar-nominated role in the 2010 Coen Brothers film True Grit, where she starred opposite Jeff Bridges.
Now she’s planning the launch of her music career, which she expects to exist alongside her acting career. Our first glimpse into her debut album is “Love Myself.” We spoke to her about the song, the progress of the full-length, and about her collaborations with Mendes, Swift and the Dude himself, Jeff Bridges.
“Love Myself” is your introduction as a solo singer to the world; talk about choosing that song as the one to introduce yourself as a singer.
“Love Myself” was written by Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter, and they’re not only two of my favorite writers, but two of my favorite people that I’ve had the pleasure of working with on the whole album. There was no question, to me, that that should be the first single. There was something so powerful about the lyrics that made me feel so good about life, and about myself, and the idea of putting something so powerful and empowering into the world meant a lot to me.
In this era of bullying and body shaming, it seems like a pretty resonant idea.
It’s been really amazing to see… when we released the title of the song, it was amazing to see what people were saying under the hashtgag #lovemyself. So much positivity and love was being spread. Just from the title! And then after the song came out, it’s been so amazing to see how it has affected people and how it has helped people, it feels really special.
Obviously committing yourself to music means a lot of time in the studio, on the road and promoting, and at some point you’ll probably have to choose between doing a film or spending more time on music.
I guess that’s true, but I’m not leaving one behind for the other. I do commit myself 110% to whatever it is I’m doing at the moment. But I love them both so much that I know I couldn’t do just one, and not the other. I’m going to do a movie at the end of October that I’m really excited about. It’ll be interesting to see how these two worlds will collide. I’m blessed to be able to do what I love and I’m going to take advantage of any opportunity I can to do it.
You looked like you had a great time shooting the “Love Myself” video.
I shot it in L.A. After a lot of back and forth and where to shoot it and what to wear and who to have in it, it came down to me really wanting to have fun and have a good time with it. It makes me feel good when I sing it, and I wanted the video to represent the idea that you can be yourself, you don’t have to look a certain way or act a certain way. And you can listen to your favorite song and dance as if no one is watching.
Even though lots of people are watching.
[Laughs] Even though lots of people are watching!
You wear a t-shirt in the video that says “self-service.”
Ultimately, this song is about taking care of, and indulging, yourself, whether that’s physically, or emotionally, or with material things. It’s nice having someone provide for you, but there’s a lot of power in knowing you can provide for yourself. and that “self-service” shirt really represents that. It is what it is. I’ve been working with a stylist, Karla Welch, since I was 13, and when we were thinking about this video, I had no specific look that I wanted, I just wanted to have a good time with it. We chose a few outfits and when I saw the “self-service” shirt, I said, “Man, that has to be in the video.”
So, do you have tour plans yet?
Not at the moment. I’m finishing the album.
When will it be out?
I want to say eaarly next year. I’d like to say tomorrow! But I’m aiming for early next year.
Are you writing songs, are people writing for you?
It’s a combination. I’ve been working with Justin and Julia and [production team] Mattman and Robin. I’ve had the best time with them and watching them come up with amazing ideas. They are so talented. It’s amazing because one thing that I’ve found in making this album, is that it’s evolved so much. I don’t know that what it is right now will be what it is by the time it is released.
So, obviously a good way to introduce yourself to a fan base is to duet with a guy like Shawn Mendes, as you did on the acoustic version of “Stitches.” How’d that happen?
I am such a huge fan of his. I’d been listening to Handwritten ever since it came out. I just love him and wanted to collaborate with him in some way. And we went back and forth on a couple of ideas. And then the idea of doing an acoustic “Stitches” duet came up and we just went for it. We made a video and recorded it in the same day. He is one of the most amazing guys I’ve ever met. He really is so sweet.
Was it fun being in Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” video?
Speaking for myself, I can tell you it was one of the best times I’ve ever had on a set. That was just one day of shooting for a lot of us, but the whole song and the entire video has been a journey. It started as just doing one day on the set and then we ended up on the Billbaord Music Awards together, and on the MTV VMAs.
One thing you and Taylor have in common is that you’ve both co-starred with Jeff Bridges [Swift was in 2014’s The Giver]. Did you get any advice from him about being an actor/musician?
I do stay in touch with him, I don’t see him nearly as much as I’d like to. I saw his band play when we were shooting a film, he performed with his daughter Jessie. It was amazing to reflect on that week that I spent making a movie with him. Seeing him play music was a whole other experience and it was so inspiring to see him love it so much. He loves both things: making movies and making music.
Nothing says ‘turnt’ like Hailee Steinfeld. That’s how MTV Video Music Awards host Miley Cyrus, using slang normally reserved for a rowdy party, introduced the actor-singer during the Aug. 30 show, a presumably sarcastic description of a Taylor Swift pal and Pitch Perfect 2 star with an immaculate child-actor past. She may not have realized that, despite its seemingly empowering title, Steinfeld’s rising hit single “Love Myself” is a suggestive double-entendre. Cyrus’ joke even confused Steinfeld. “I still don’t know what it meant. I probably should have Urban Dictionary’d ‘turnt,’ ” says the 18-year-old a week later. “I was just so stoked that Miley Cyrus was saying my name.”
Probably best-known as the Oscar-nominated teen from Joel and Ethan Coen’s 2010 western True Grit, Steinfeld attended the Academy Awards at 14, and has been to the Met Ball five times. On this September morning at Manhattan’s Edition Hotel, she has just returned from the Venice Film Festival. She may be an old pro in Hollywood, starring in films alongside Jeff Bridges, but she gets genuinely giddy when it comes to rubbing shoulders with music stars like Cyrus. She giggles while recounting a recent run-in with Drake: “It’s one of those things where you’re hugging and you’re like, ‘I hope someone is taking a picture of this,’ ” she says. (Someone did, and Steinfeld posted it on Instagram.)
Last November in New York, she and her mother were randomly seated next to Republic Records executive VP Charlie Walk at a dinner, and right there at the table, they played him Steinfeld singing a Pitch Perfect 2 song on headphones. Steinfeld signed to Republic in May and her first single, “Love Myself,” is already a Billboard Hot 100 hit, leaping 44-36 in its fifth week and putting her real-life, off-screen persona front, center and solo for the first time. “Music is the most moving art form,” she says, comparing her new career to her first one. “It moves in such a personal way. There’s something about the control you have — I love it.”
Steinfeld isn’t abandoning acting, however. In 2015, she is appearing in four films in addition to Pitch Perfect 2, including drama Ten Thousand Saints with Ethan Hawke and Civil War thriller The Keeping Room, out Sept. 25. She’s also shooting an undisclosed Gracie Films project in October. “Someone asked: ‘Are you a singer or an actor?’ ” says Steinfeld. “I didn’t know how to answer because I was almost insulted anybody would make me choose. But my answer is … both.”
A chance to bridge her careers came earlier this year, when Swift, whom she met at a 2011 pre-Oscar party, called about playing triplets in her star-filled “Bad Blood” video: “The only things I remember hearing on the phone were ‘Crazy idea,’ ‘There’s three of you,’ and ‘It’s tomorrow,’ ” says Steinfeld. “I’m like, ‘Great, awesome, let’s do it!’”
Growing up in Thousand Oaks, Calif., with older brother Griffin, a NASCAR driver, Steinfeld always loved to sing. Her mother was an interior designer, her father a personal trainer, and her uncle, Jake Steinfeld, the “Body by Jake” fitness icon. At 8, she saw her cousin True O’Brien, now a regular on soap Days of Our Lives, in a commercial and decided she wanted to act. Around 12, she got hooked on music, recording Bruno Mars covers: “I did it once and knew I had to do it again,” she recalls of her first time in a studio.
But she was already landing guest roles on sitcoms, so acting took precedence over music. Pitch Perfect 2, a film comedy about a college a cappella group that has grossed more than $180 million domestically since its May release, offered a way to do both. Her character came with her own ballad, “Flashlight,” co-written by Sia and Sam Smith. “I walked into that movie with most of my excitement in the music,” she says.
In May, Steinfeld released an acoustic version of “Flashlight” with Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz on guitar, but her first original single is far more intimate. “Love Myself” preaches self-empowerment through sexual euphemisms (“I’m gonna touch the pain away/I know how to scream my own name”), winkingly functioning as both Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and Divinyls’ “I Touch Myself” for post-millennials. In person, Steinfeld, who says she’s “dating” but won’t name names, is coy about the innuendo: “The song is about taking care of yourself, whether that means physically, emotionally or with material things. There’s power in being able to provide for yourself. Being able to say, ‘I love myself’ — it’s revolutionary in a way.”
But in the video, she dances around in a bodysuit that reads “Self Service.” The implication is clear: “Of course,” she concedes, finally. “Regardless of how people interpret this, I have nothing to be ashamed of.”
“I love that she started with ‘I Love Myself,’” says Pitch Perfect 2 co-star Ester Dean, who got along famously with Steinfeld on the set. “It’s a great tune and it tells the world she’s comfortable with exactly whom she is.”
“Love Myself” is also a declaration of intent for future music — she has been working with producers Mattman & Robin (Selena Gomez, Swift) and others on an EP that’s due this year. “A lot of what’s to come has a similar edge,” she offers, citing brash but vulnerable alt-poppers like Tove Lo and Alessia Cara as role models. Steinfeld probably has more in common with Cyrus than the former Disney star realizes. In fact, Steinfeld has adopted Cyrus’ VMAs dig as her own motto: “I say it everywhere I go. If anybody’s like, ‘What do you want to do?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know, let’s go here, because” — she lowers her voice to a whisper — “nothing says ‘turnt’ like Hailee Steinfeld.”
It has been announced that Hailee will make her first-ever live performance at the Streamy Awards next week! We’re so excited and can’t wait to finally see Hailee perform live! The Streamy Awards air on VH1 at 10 p.m. EST on Thursday, September 17.
To celebrate her debut single ‘Love Myself‘ was released one month ago today, Hailee uploaded an acoustic version of the single to her VEVO account. Be sure to check it out below. Hailee sounds amazing!
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