“I’m an adult now and I can take on these roles that I’ve been dreaming about playing,” says Hailee Steinfeld, who just received a best actress in a musical or comedy Golden Globe nomination for her work in the teen dramedy The Edge of Seventeen, as we sit down to record an episode of The Hollywood Reporter’s ‘Awards Chatter’ podcast.
The actress, who turned 20 on Dec. 11, made her big-screen debut at 13 in Ethan and Joel Coen’s 2010 version of True Grit – becoming the ninth-youngest best supporting actress Oscar nominee ever at 14 – and, over the years since, has kept busy making not only movies, but also music, and accumulating a sizable fan base.
Post-True Grit, Steinfeld was on the shortlist of top young stars.
“I remember watching and feeling like, ‘If t’s ever another movie like this, I have to do it,’ again the music being a huge draw,” she says.
“Music,” Steinfeld explains, “Has always been part of my plan and it’s always been something I wanted to do and it’s really always been a matter of, ‘How am I going to do this in a way that’s going to make sense?’ I had always hoped that it would happen through a movie, somehow.” She ended up covering, in a video she reluctantly posted to YouTube, one of the songs featured in Pitch Perfect 2, “Flashlight,” which was written by Sia and Sam Smith and performed on the film’s soundtrack by Jessie J., and it went viral.
With friends and fans including Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, and with a full-length album currently in the works, Steinfeld may soon be a bigger name in the world of music than she is in the world of movies, if she isn’t already – but she’s adamant that she loves both singing and acting and that they feed one another.
She navigated the tricky tightrope of playing a character who, as the protagonist of the movie, audiences want to empathize with and root for, but whose behavior isn’t always all that likable.
Steinfeld calls Edge of Seventeen “a movie that I’m so incredibly proud of and fell in love with,” adding, “To have brought this character to life was really an honor.” After the Golden Globes, she will resume work on her debut album, will go into production on Pitch Perfect 3 and will continue to dream big.