HAILEE’S COMET

From child star to pop sen­sa­tion, Hailee Ste­in­feld has be­come one of the most com­pelling voices of her gen­er­a­tion. Now, her ca­reer is all set to reach strato­spheric lev­els, as she takes on the Trans­form­ers uni­verse.

Harper's Bazaar (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - Pho­tographed by Yu Tsai. Styled by Windy Aulia

Go along on the ride with Hailee Ste­in­feld as she reaches new heights in her ca­reer

T here is a cer­tain whole­some­ness to Hailee Ste­in­feld. Her ap­ple-cheeked smile and porce­lain-doll fea­tures scream “good girl”, and yet the sul­try glances she flashes at the cam­era dur­ing Harper’s BAZAAR Sin­ga­pore’s cover shoot in Los An­ge­les could eas­ily melt the lens.

Clearly, there is more to the 21-year-old singer and ac­tress than meets the eye. For one, Ste­in­feld is not your av­er­age multi-hy­phen­ate. At age 14, she be­came an Os­carnom­i­nated ac­tress af­ter her break­out turn in the re­vi­sion­ist Western True Grit (2010), fol­lowed by a block­buster mu­si­cal ( Pitch Per­fect 2, 2015) and an ac­claimed com­ing-of-age movie ( The Edge of Seven­teen, 2016, which gar­nered her a Golden Globe nom­i­na­tion).

On top of that, in what was an ini­tially sur­pris­ing turn, re­cent years have seen her emerg­ing as a spokes­woman for per­sonal em­pow­er­ment through her mu­sic. First with the self-es­teem an­them “Love My­self ” (2015), then through the elec­tropop fem­i­nist screed “Most Girls” (2017), join­ing a grow­ing cadre of young fe­male celebri­ties who have pub­licly em­braced fem­i­nism, and use their plat­form for good. Ste­in­feld has since be­come a bea­con of un­abashed pos­i­tiv­ity, speak­ing out on the im­por­tance of self-care and not fall­ing into the trap of com­pet­ing with other women.

Her epiphany about how so­ci­ety pits women against one an­other, and how so­cial me­dia ex­ac­er­bates it, came shortly be­fore she wrote “Most Girls”, she re­veals as we sit down for a chat in West Hol­ly­wood. “That song came out of the thought that there’s this stan­dard that, in or­der for young women to be spe­cial, they have to be so dif­fer­ent from other women. I have felt that at times.”

Thus, the mu­sic video starts with “this scene of me on a date with this guy and every­thing’s great un­til he goes, ‘You’re so awe­some… You’re not like other girls.’ And I’m, like, ‘What does that mean, ex­actly? Be­cause most girls are amaz­ing.’”

The in­spi­ra­tion be­hind this sprang from her re­al­i­sa­tion that she was sur­rounded by so many in­cred­i­ble women.

“And in­stead of see­ing a pic­ture of one and think­ing neg­a­tive thoughts, I’m go­ing to save this pic­ture and put it on a mood board. Be­cause for what­ever rea­son, she’s work­ing out a lot, she’s tak­ing care of her­self, and that’s amaz­ing. Once I started to have that out­look, every­thing changed for me. That’s why I felt like it’s so much eas­ier to just be kind and spread pos­i­tiv­ity.”

She quickly saw that so­cial me­dia makes the pol­i­tics of envy even more toxic. “It’s so easy to fall into that rab­bit hole and get lost in other peo­ple’s opin­ions, and you find your­self look­ing for val­i­da­tion in places that don’t re­ally mat­ter.”

As for the value she places on self-care, that comes from the fact that she has been work­ing pro­fes­sion­ally since age eight, when she be­gan book­ing roles on tele­vi­sion shows and com­mer­cials. “I’ve had no choice but to take care of my­self. When I’m on tour, it’s hard to re­mem­ber to eat ev­ery two or three hours and stay hy­drated, and time gets away from you. But I re­mind my­self that if I want to kill at to­mor­row’s show, I’ve got to take care of my­self.

“That means the ob­vi­ous, like stay­ing hy­drated, eat­ing clean and work­ing out, but also tak­ing time for my­self; wak­ing up in the morn­ing and spend­ing 30 min­utes on my own, whether it’s read­ing a book or lis­ten­ing to mu­sic or lit­er­ally do­ing noth­ing be­fore I start my day, or be­fore my day ends.”

Work dic­tates what she wears most of the time. “I get to go from dress­ing for a red car­pet to a per­for­mance on stage, which means rhine­stones and se­quins all day long, or do­ing pe­riod movies where I get to im­merse my­self in a dif­fer­ent era.”

Off the clock, her per­sonal style is con­sid­er­ably more down-to-earth. “I’ve been in a ma­jor jeans-and-t-shirt phase, and prob­a­bly al­ways will be. I bought a pair of jeans from Ur­ban Out­fit­ters I’m ob­sessed with— they’re high-waisted, straight-legged, rolled at the bot­tom and a lit­tle baggy. They’re just comfy, cool and prob­a­bly the jeans I won’t wash for two weeks be­cause I wear them ev­ery day.”

Half her closet con­sists of items cost­ing less than US$100 each, she re­veals. But one of her most cher­ished pos­ses­sions is “a wool jacket that I have from the Miu Miu cam­paign that I shot when I was younger. “That’s the one item in my closet where I’m, like, ‘Ooh, is this the night I’m go­ing to wear it?’ I’ll be wear­ing that when I’m 80 if I can still fit in it.”

It’ s a re­mark­ably mod­est out­look, con­sid­er­ing her block­buster ca­reer. Pitch Per­fect

2 and 3 were the two high­est-gross­ing mu­si­cal come­dies of all time, and Ste­in­feld will soon be part of an­other mega-fran­chise when she head­lines Bum­ble­bee, the Trans­form­ers movie out later this year—all the while jug­gling a thriv­ing mu­sic ca­reer, in­clud­ing the ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated re­lease of her de­but stu­dio al­bum. “There’s no deny­ing it’s a chal­lenge do­ing both, but they both mean so much to me. I just try and de­vote 1,000 per­cent of my­self to what­ever it is I’m work­ing on at the mo­ment.”

Right now, this leaves lit­tle time for the sort of off-the-beaten path ex­plor­ing Ste inf el dy earn st odo—a back pack­ing ad­ven­ture or a road trip are at the top of her list, per­haps in Asia or South Amer­ica, she says.

But there are mini ad­ven­tures to be had in her own back­yard, Los An­ge­les; a city that, thanks to Hol­ly­wood, ev­ery­one thinks they know. “I’ve been here my whole life but there are al­ways new ar­eas com­ing up, so I love be­ing here for that rea­son.”

To im­press out-of-town vis­i­tors—in­clud­ing Niall Ho­ran, the 25-year-old Ir­ish heart­throb of for­mer boy­band One Di­rec­tion that Ste­in­feld has been seen cosy­ing up with in the city—she takes them to se­cret spots over­look­ing the stun­ning Mal­ibu coast. “Mal­ibu is where my heart is, and I have found, in the last eight or nine months or so, many great, quaint lit­tle lookout spots, and some of them re­quire hop­ping a cou­ple of fences.”

And she plans to keep hop­ping fences when it comes to re­defin­ing how young women, and men, feel about them­selves and one an­other. “When I’m on tour, ‘Most Girls’ is one of the songs that peo­ple are most ex­cited about. I even see guys freak­ing out to that song. And when a fan comes up to you and says, ‘That song got me through so much’— some­times it’s a breakup, or them not feel­ing con­fi­dent about them­selves... Mu­sic can do that.

“Mu­sic’s done that for me, and the fact that I’m able to do that as an artist for other peo­ple re­ally makes every­thing worth­while.” ■

“I try and de­vote ,000 per­cent of my­self to what­ever it is I’m work­ing on at the mo­ment.”

Silk and linen dress; leather Arch­light boots OP­PO­SITE: Beaded silk chif­fon romper

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