Five years ago, Hailee Steinfeld was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her plaited-hair portrayal of Mattie Ross in True Grit. She was 14 years old, iron-willed, and only just beginning her career—and already at the top of the game. This year she's continued her quiet takeover: She was in Pitch Perfect 2; stars as a pregnant teenager in the indie film Ten Thousand Saints; and just released a hella catchy song about masturbation called "Love Myself."
"I'm going to touch the pain away/I know how to scream my own name."
Though Steinfeld already had one music-releated credit on her resumé this summer (she played The Trinity in Taylor Swift's music video for "Bad Blood"), "Love Myself" is her first independent recording as an artist. She signed to Republic Records earlier this year and the song is her first single.
It's a hooky, upbeat track of the lady-songstress-empowerment genre that's made more than a few top 20 hits this summer (think Tove Lo's "Talking Body" and Rachel Platten's "Fight Song). And it has the production value behind it to make it sound like a Top 40 hit, even if it never charts that highly. The song was produced by Mattman & Robin, who have worked with other pop princesses like Carly Rae Jepsen, Taylor Swift, and Tove Lo.
This song, though, is a little edgier than any of those artists have dared to go.
"When I get chills at night/I feel it deep inside," Steinfeld sings, before setting up for the twist, "without you."
In the video for "Love Myself," Steinfeld wears a black leotard with the words "Self Service" emblazoned on the front. She's obviously and unabashedly singing about female masturbation: "I'm gonna put my body first/And love me so hard 'til it hurts."
For an artist whose primary medium up until now has been acting, it's an impressive debut. And it really proves that Steinfeld doesn't half-ass anything about her career.
“I kind of went non-stop for two years,” she told WIRED in May. “I love what I do so much that when I do it I don’t want to stop. But I do get to a certain point as a human where I’m like, ‘I need to go home and get to know my own bed again.'”
At eighteen years old, she's already played many different types of parts—Juliet Capulet in the 2013 adaption of Romeo and Juliet; Petra Arkanian in Ender's Game. She hasn't been typecasted or been forced to act within a box. And it seems like Steinfeld is actively trying to keep that from happening—something not all young actors have the wherewithal or talent to be able to do.
If this summer is any indication, Hailee Steinfeld is one of the most interesting artists working today—both on the screen, and off it.
Kelsey McKinney is a culture staff writer for Fusion.