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Nothing says ‘turnt’ like Hailee Steinfeld. That’s how MTV Video Music Awards host Miley Cyrus, using slang normally reserved for a rowdy party, introduced the actor-singer during the Aug. 30 show, a presumably sarcastic description of a Taylor Swift pal and Pitch Perfect 2 star with an immaculate child-actor past. She may not have realized that, despite its seemingly empowering title, Steinfeld’s rising hit single “Love Myself” is a suggestive double-entendre. Cyrus’ joke even confused Steinfeld. “I still don’t know what it meant. I probably should have Urban Dictionary’d ‘turnt,’ ” says the 18-year-old a week later. “I was just so stoked that Miley Cyrus was saying my name.”

Probably best-known as the Oscar-nominated teen from Joel and Ethan Coen’s 2010 western True Grit, Steinfeld attended the Academy Awards at 14, and has been to the Met Ball five times. On this September morning at Manhattan’s Edition Hotel, she has just returned from the Venice Film Festival. She may be an old pro in Hollywood, starring in films alongside Jeff Bridges, but she gets genuinely giddy when it comes to rubbing shoulders with music stars like Cyrus. She giggles while recounting a recent run-in with Drake: “It’s one of those things where you’re hugging and you’re like, ‘I hope someone is taking a picture of this,’ ” she says. (Someone did, and Steinfeld posted it on Instagram.)

Last November in New York, she and her mother were randomly seated next to Republic Records executive VP Charlie Walk at a dinner, and right there at the table, they played him Steinfeld singing a Pitch Perfect 2 song on headphones. Steinfeld signed to Republic in May and her first single, “Love Myself,” is already a Billboard Hot 100 hit, leaping 44-36 in its fifth week and putting her real-life, off-screen persona front, center and solo for the first time. “Music is the most moving art form,” she says, comparing her new career to her first one. “It moves in such a personal way. There’s something about the control you have — I love it.”

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