It’s hard to ignore Hailee Steinfeld.
The rising starlet has such an impressive resume and it’d be hard to believe that she’s only 19 going on 20. She first set foot in the entertainment industry when she dabbled with acting in several short films. That would later land her in a few films roles, one of which (2010’s “True Grit”) went on to earn her the Academy Award for “Best Supporting Actress”, the Screen Actors Guild Award for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role”, and the BAFTA Award for “Best Actress in a Leading Role”.
Hailee’s lastest film role (Emily Junk in “Pitch Perfect 2”) opened up possibilities for her to venture into the music industry. What followed closely after was her special appearance as part of Taylor Swift’s “squad” in the “Bad Blood” music video and a recording deal with Republic Records. It’s safe to say that it has been a whirlwind of sorts for Hailee!
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 :D
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.
With acting, you often need to channel someone you admire to get into character. But with singing, who are some of the artistes that you draw inspiration from?
There are so many artistes that I have loved and have seen live. Oh man..there are so many too that I haven’t seen live. I’ve never seen Madonna live but I’ve seen her documentary from the MDMA tour. I’ve watch that a hundred times over and I think that there’s something so incredible about watching her perform. There’s something that..she just kinda goes out there as herself and herself only, and I find that so incredible. Or watching people like Beyonce or Rihanna, they’re such incredible performers and that’s a lot of that..that I draw from and am inspired by.
As an actress, you’ve taken home some honours. But what would you say are some of your goals now that you’re venturing into the music industry?
Ah, yeah! Well, I will say that with the acting, when I first started out..I mean even now, I think the last thing that’s on your mind is the awards and the nominations and the awards shows. All that comes afterwards. And I think that’s kinda where I’m at with my music right now – I’m just trying to master my sound and get into my groove, and find my little spot. That’s really what I’m focused on right now and I can’t wait to see what happens once I find that.
Because you started at such a young age, would you say that you missed out a lot on growing up? If you could go back in time, what would you change?
I really don’t feel like I missed out on too much. I have all my friends that I did go to school with and I see them often, and I live at home in the same neighbourhood that I grew up in. So there’s a lot of familiarity in terms of where I’ve grown up and how I grew up. I don’t know if I’ve missed out on too much. I do think that I’ve made up for a lot that you could say I’ve technically missed out on. So..I don’t really feel like there’s anything that I’d want to go back and do.
What was it like being a part of Taylor Swift’s squad for the “Bad Blood” music video?
It was so amazing! Just having gone from an idea to what it turned into, it’s amazing to be a part of that. It was really cool.
Off the top of your head, do you remember any crazy fan moments that you can share?
Um, luckily my fans are..they’re pretty nice and respectful for the most part so I haven’t had like..any crazy fan experience. Yeah, I don’t know if I really had like a crazy one (thinks)..I don’t know. They have been very supportive and very, very nice.
What’s Hailee Steinfeld like on an average, normal day?
Yeah! One of my favourite things to do is just like..really just lay low and watch movies or listen to music. And just relax and hang out, and kinda do close to nothing. I don’t know..I’m very..chill. Just casual ;)
We’ll leave you now with Hailee Steinfeld’s performance of her hit single, “Rock Bottom”, live at Eastwood Mall in Manila. Enjoy:
Special thanks to our friends from Universal Music Malaysia for making this interview happen. For more fun facts about Hailee Steinfeld, go here.