“I have always been drawn to women who have something to say,” reveals Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld about the latest in a long line of interesting, rebellious and fearless women she has portrayed onscreen. “I love that I have been able to shine a light on these women and what they have to say.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Steinfeld above.
The multi-hyphenate performer stars as poet Emily Dickinson in Apple TV+’s “Dickinson,” which re-imagines the life and times of the literary icon as she rebels against the gender norms of 19th century America. She is in love with her best friend Sue (Ella Hunt), who is engaged to marry Emily’s brother Austin (Adrian Enscoe), while her old-school parents (Toby Huss and Jane Krakowski) aren’t fond of her artistic pursuits. It is refreshingly anachronistic in its language, tone and music, as it captures the spirit of her rebellious poetry for a contemporary audience. “Dickinson” was one of 10 scripted shows recently honored at the 2020 Peabody Awards, which praised the show for how it “playfully embraces anachronism,” singling it out for its “wild originality.”
“It’s ultimately about capturing her spirit and taking these poems and creating what we think might have been going through her brain at the time she was writing them and figuring out what that looks like and what that sounds like,” Steinfeld muses about creator Alena Smith‘s modern dialogue and the eclectic tunes peppered throughout each episode by music supervisor Devoe Yates. “These are songs I believe if Emily Dickinson was alive today she would be listening to and they would be on her playlist,” she declares with a knowing smile.
Steinfeld acknowledges that her role as a co-producer and star on “Dickinson” fit perfectly within her musical sensibilities. After earning an Oscar nomination as a 14 year-old in “True Grit,” her musical career took off in parallel to her acting career, as she recorded two EPs and released five platinum singles. Steinfeld says that it was those synergies, Dickinson’s rebellious spirit and the show’s crackling energy that have ultimately inspired her to approach her music in a more fearless way.
“She inspires me as an artist, particularly as a songwriter. I wrapped season 1 of ‘Dickinson’ in New York, came back home to L.A. and started working on all of my music, I switched gears,” she reveals. “I knew exactly what I wanted to write about and what I wanted to say. In the past with my writing I have been guarded,” Steinfeld admits, adding that working on “Dickinson” has given her “this sense of not holding back and taking risks and exploring and fearlessly walking into new territory and experimenting.”
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