Hailee Steinfeld Talks Taylor Swift's Squad: 'Women Banding Together Is Incredible'

The Academy Award-nominated actress has opened up about feminism, controversy surrounding her BFF's 'squad' and self-confidence


My lasting image of Hailee Steinfeld is when she compliments Rebel Wilson on her 'lovely vagina' in a bid to join the Barden Bellas.

Odd, yet true.

But the nervous, insecure character seeking approval from a group of a capella singers in Pitch Perfect 2, is miles away from the self-assured and eloquent 19-year-old Oscar nominated actress who sits in front of me – 24 hours after jetting in from the City of Lights after sitting FROW at the Valentino show during Paris Fashion Week.


For an actress who came to the spotlight at the age of 13-years-old, following her critically-acclaimed performance in the Coen brothers' film True Grit, Steinfeld has gone onto to carve out a stellar acting resumé – from roles in female-heavy comedy franchise Pitch Perfect to a lovesick teen in Romeo and Juliet opposite Douglas Booth – as well as a promising singing career with her recent US top 30 single, Starving.


But success at such a young age has meant finding her own voice hasn't exactly been an overnight success for Steinfeld.

'When you're young and naïve, you listen to a lot of people around you suggesting different things. I've recently learnt to stick up for myself and figure out what I want. It's important to say when it's too much,' she admits.

Something Hailee is proud to stand up against is the unrealistic expectation on women to act and look a certain way.

Following the release of her 2015 EP Love Myself, the star received criticism over the song's lyrics that included lines such as 'I'm gonna touch the pain away/ I know how to scream my own name' along with a music video that saw Steinfeld wearing a T-shirt with the slogan 'Self Service', leading many to believe she was promoting masturbation.

At the time, Hailee came out in defence of the song admitting it was a song about female empowerment, both physically and mentally.

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Looking back, Hailee admits: 'The song was an anthem that makes you feel like you can walk out the door and conquer the world. That song been a constant reminder for self-love and confidence for me over the last year.'

It's therefore unsurprising that feminism is a big talking point for the Californian native. A self-proclaimed proud member of feminism, Hailee says:

'There was a time when [feminism] was the elephant in the room. It was weird people felt they couldn't talk about feminism freely and openly say they're a feminist. I believe in equal rights for everybody.'

One icon paving the way for feminism is Emma Watson – a fellow child actress who Steinfeld holds in high esteem, especially given her work on the campaign for the advancement of women initiated by UN Women, HeForShe.

'She's such a profound woman. There's so much to learn from her, her passion, her drive and commitment to anything she works on. You only have to listen to her and you'll be captivated,' she says.

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With peers including Emma Watson talking women's rights and Chloe Grace Moretz speaking out in support of Hillary Clinton, Hailee admits she's enjoying observing her generation's vocal awakening, despite keeping quiet on her own political allegiances.

'For the first time I feel I'm really a part of a movement and that's because our generation has so much say on our future.'


For a star who counts Lena Dunham, Beyoncé and her mother as 'strong and independent' role models, it's clear Hailee finds solace and inspiration from independent and powerful females in her life. After all, this is a girl who shares a WhatsApp group with BFF Taylor Swift and starred in the singer's MTV VMA's winning video, Bad Blood alongside A-list celebrities such as Cara Delevingne, Karlie Kloss and Selena Gomez.

However, after years of controversy surrounding Swift's 'squad' – given its alleged exclusivity, performative feminism and Mean Girls attitude – Hailee reveals she's less concerned with labels and more focussed on how women treat each other.

'I have no idea where the term [squad] stemmed from. I met Taylor years before it was a thing. I think the idea of women banding together and becoming their own support group is incredible.'

Steinfeld's comments come the day after Serena Williams told Fader magazine how she's learned not to care about other people's opinions of her body and that unconditional self-love is the most important thing for a woman.

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However, for someone who has 640,000 Twitter followers and 3.7million Instagram followers, how easy is it for a young woman in the spotlight like Hailee not to become obsessed with negative criticism and body shaming?

'It takes confidence and security to be able to zone it out. It's very easy to get carried away with comments and the lack of 'likes' because so many of us look for validation in that.'

But for Steinfeld, it's easier to try to ignore hurtful comment on social media. She says: 'There's always going to be someone who has something negative to say – you have no control over that. In terms of social media, if you post a picture and get a lot of negative comments, remember that you posted a picture because you like it are confident with it. Why should other opinions matter?'

Mature, feminist, empowering – a much better lasting image of Hailee Steinfeld.

Hailee stars in coming-of-age drama 'Edge of Seventeen', out 25 November.

Watch the trailer for the film below:

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