Hailee Steinfeld connects with her Filipino background; recalls bonding with Bellas for Pitch Perfect 2

by FM Ganal
Apr 8, 2016
Fil-Am Hollywood actress turned pop star Hailee Steinfeld is currently in Manila to promote her music. She will be having a series of mall shows starting today, Friday, April 8, at the Eastwood Mall. Other weekend shows will be on April 9 at Uptown Mall in Bonifacio Global City and on April 10 at Venice Grand Canal, McKinley Hills.

Back in 2010, the then 14 year-old Hailee Steinfeld made a splash in Hollywood as critics praised her performance as Mattie Ross in the western True Grit. Come Oscars season the following year, the budding actress received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

This was more than sufficient for the spotlight to shine on the young Hailee, but prior to acting, the half-Filipino Hollywood actress first fell in love with music.

Fast forward to 2015, 19-year-old Hailee found the opportunity to merge her passion for film and music with the musical-comedy sequel Pitch Perfect 2

The star turned pop-star then released her first single "Love Myself."

Now in Manila to do a series of mall shows for her EP titled Haiz, Hailee met with the Philippine press at the Marco Polo Hotel on April 6 and talked about her love for music and her excitement to reconnect with her Filipino lineage.

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Hailee will be having a series of mall shows starting today, Friday, April 8, at the Eastwood Mall. Other weekend shows will be on April 9 at Uptown Mall in Bonifacio Global City and on April 10 at Venice Grand Canal, McKinley Hills.

Were you a fan of the first
Pitch Perfect?

Hailee: Yes, I was a huge fan. I distinctly remember being in the theaters, seeing that movie. I saw it a couple of weeks after it came out and there were so much hype around it. All my friends have seen it and everyone was going crazy about it. And i kept driving through town and I'd see these billboards and I was like, I've got to see this movie.

So, I went with a friend and my parents and one thing I remember so much was not only laughing through the entire movie, which is always the best thing ever, but there was a song playing that my friend and I were singing, my parents were singing and it just really felt like, I mean we all connected so much to this little film and that was just the best thing and we were talking about it forever and I remember thinking also, that there was ever a movie like that, not thinking that there would be a sequel, I have to be a part of it.

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So, I was such a huge fan and really excited to be part of the second.

Talk about your experience in Pitch Perfect 2 and the moment you finally felt your love for films and music fuse together?

Hailee: Yeah, yeah, of course. So, I think that, like I said before, I always wanted to make music and I really always hoped that it would happen through a movie, so, in some ways, I was looking for a movie that would give me the opportunity to show people that I love singing, that I'm serious about the idea of becoming a recording artist and when Pitch Perfect 2 came along, having been a fan of the first movie, I jumped to the opportunity and I sent the music that I recorded and I passed.

It really was such an amazing opportunity because after coming out of Pitch Perfect, I very randomly went to an event and was sat next to someone from Republic Records who ended up signing me to the label and after six months the first single came and now he's on our team on my first full-length album.

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So, it's so incredible that it all started with something that I really, really wanted to do and it's a place that ended happening through a film like I hoped.

How did it feel like to actually become part of Pitch Perfect 2?

Hailee: I have very much the approach as my character did in the movie. I was very starstruck and I was very eager to do whatever I would do fit in, and make things cool and do the best I could. It was definitely a surreal experience.

What about the experience of recording your character′s song “Flashlight”?

Hailee: Well, so this song “Flashlight” was written by Sia and Sam Smith, who are two of my all time favorite aritsts and I heard this song for the first time, and having read the script knowing that there was this song that my character wrote, I didn't hear the song until I got on set.

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So here I am thinking, here I am as a character, this whole movie is based around this whole song that's kind of like in this work-in-progress for this character. I heard it for the first time and I was so excited about it. I remember plugging it so much and the version that I heard was a demo that is very different from what people heard in the movie.

So, when I went to record my sort of acoustic version, I wanted to sort of bring back what I heard in that first original demo, and it was stripped down version of this sing. It was very emotional, it was very raw and that was kinda what I wanted to put in to my version.

What are the Bellas like off-cam? How are Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and Brittany Snow like as co-stars?

Hailee: They're so much fun. We just celebrated Rebel's birthday a couple of weeks ago back in Los Angeles and a couple of us fellow Bellas were reunited, so they're such a good time. It really was such a great shoot because whether the camera was rolling or not, we were always laughing, always singing, always having fun and it never really felt like work.

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Do you talk about the Philippines with your co-stars?

Hailee: Well, I will know after having been here I'm going to have lots to talk about.

What has stood out to you the most about the country so far?

Hailee: The people. The people! I haven't seen too much yet other than just driving around. I came in last night and it was pitch black outside, but I looked out the window the whole ride home and I was like, this really looks like a place I'm gonna go back for like vacation and spend time here. I mean, I actually love the weather.

How much of you is Filipino and what did it mean to you growing up?

Hailee: So, my grandpa is half-Filipino. My mom's dad. He's my great-grandfather who came from Bohol. And one thing I learned very early on about Filipinos is how passion there is, how much pride there is being Filipino and as little as there is in me, I really do feel so connected to the culture and to being here, I can't believe I haven't been here before. I'm so happy that I am here finally. It's so incredibly important that I can come somewhere so far from home and feel like I'm home.

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What kind of music did you grow up listening to?

Hailee: Well, growing up I feel like I grew with some fairly wide variety of music, genre and artist-wise. My dad love classic rock, played a lot of classic rock. From The Eagles to ACDC to Led Zeppelin. My mom played Luther Vandross, Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey. My brother, when my older brother was 12 years old, he kinda listened to just that. My parents played as I did for many years. What I love now is knowing those artists and those groups, sort of timeless artists and group that have made music.

How does music affect your work in acting and vice versa?

Hailee: I really think that as an actor I've been put in certain situations multiple times where I'm meant to act like I've experienced something that I haven't and in some ways that I have experienced those things through my acting. And when it comes to the studio and writing music, sometimes it's hard to find inspiration especially when you don't feel like you've experienced much. And i do think that i owe so much to what I've done in my films, playing certain characters to the writing because i feel inspired by movies in general and the fact that I've been able to make movies and play certain characters and do research on certain times and places. It's definitely sort of expanded my knowledge and I think that was very useful when I do studio writing.

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Advice to those who are persistent in wanting to make it big in Hollywood?

Hailee: I think that a lot of the times that I was looking for any advice, a lot of people would say don’t give up or believe in yourself and it’s one of those things that you fear that while it is easier said than done, but I do realize now that those are the two most valuable piece of advice that I’ve been given is do not give up and know that if it is something that love and it is something you feel good, then it can’t really be the wrong thing and it can all happen if you are passionate about it, if you are persistent, and you work hard.

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Fil-Am Hollywood actress turned pop star Hailee Steinfeld is currently in Manila to promote her music. She will be having a series of mall shows starting today, Friday, April 8, at the Eastwood Mall. Other weekend shows will be on April 9 at Uptown Mall in Bonifacio Global City and on April 10 at Venice Grand Canal, McKinley Hills.
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