But then the acting world came calling again: Steinfeld spent the second half of 2016 promoting the coming-of-age dramedy The Edge of Seventeen, for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination for best actress in a motion picture musical or comedy, and the first half of 2017 filming the third installment of the Pitch Perfect franchise. The past few years have played out in similar fashion, with hit singles like "Let Me Go" -- a stadium country-dance jam made with Florida Georgia Line, Alesso and Watt -- and the empowerment anthem "Most Girls" squeezed in between starring roles in the Transformers spin-off Bumblebee and the Apple TV+ series Dickinson, on which Steinfeld plays a young Emily Dickinson.
Last fall, Steinfeld finalized a deal with TaP management, and says that she now feels like her team is working more lock-step with her vision of balancing film and music. "Especially at first, I think both sides of the team were very interested to see how this was going to be seamlessly pulled off," Steinfeld says when asked if she's experienced any jostling between the different factions of her inner circle. Now, "Everybody knows how important both of these careers are to me, and that I'm not gonna do one and not the other."
For as fruitful as her acting career has proven, it has resulted in setbacks her musical growth. Steinfeld has yet to embark on a proper headlining tour, for instance, instead allotting blocks of time to open for artists like Katy Perry, Charlie Puth and Meghan Trainor. Steinfeld also doesn't have the volume of recording-studio reps that her years of experience would suggest, thanks to the months of filming she signs up for when taking on a new acting project. This has made committing to a full-length, as well as honing in on the stylistic direction of that project, a difficult task.
Goldstein says that Republic has tried to be as strategic as possible while working with Steinfeld's schedule over the years, finding pockets of time for recording sessions and promotion. "She's been great with blocking off weeks or months to focus on music," says Goldstein. "And I try to be more prepared, to take care of us and avoid having a huge gap in the marketplace in between records -- because in the streaming world, it's about consistency."
Yet Millett points out that, on a fundamental level, Steinfeld still needs to go through a deeper artistic process to unlock her full potential as a singer-songwriter. The road she's taken, having spent the majority of her 23 years in the spotlight, is not an ordinary one. "Normally you start with an artist, going from a teenager to an adult, you're working [with] writers and producers and defining who you are. That journey is not something that she's done," he notes. "Self-expression, gaining confidence to say how you really feel -- that's a scary process when you're already a famous person."
When Steinfeld is making a movie or a television show, she says, she's still writing songs, although not as consistently as when she's off set. And that's okay with her -- Steinfeld is learning not to overload herself, even as she wants to take on new challenges.
"I used to think that I could do it all," she says, "and that it was all great and fine and it was like, ‘I can definitely record that and do this and this and this.' And then I started losing sleep over it. I'm like, I am too young to be this stressed out."