|December 11, 1996|
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Born Dec. 11, 1996 in Thousand Oaks, CA, Hailee Steinfeld knew that she wanted to be an actress from a very young age. She had fallen in love with the craft after seeing a neighbor perform in a play, and became further enamored after her cousins began making appearances in television commercials. However, Steinfeld's parents insisted that she attend acting classes before they would consider booking her an agent to pursue her career goals. Her family held to their promise, and Steinfeld began landing roles in television commercials and short films. Her all-American looks and natural poise made her a natural for idealized young women, including an angel in the short "Heather: A Fairy Tale" (2008) and a dream girl worthy of sacrificing a beloved mullet in "She's a Fox" (2009).
When directors Joel and Ethan Coen began searching for the young protagonist for their remake of "True Grit" (1969), they envisioned an unknown who could make the role her own, a la Tatum O'Neal in "Paper Moon" (1973) or Linda Manz in "Days of Heaven" (1978). After traveling across the Southwest and auditioning some 5,000 actresses, they found Steinfeld in Los Angeles, and cast her within a week of meeting her. Days later, she was on a plane to Texas to begin filming.
Reviewers on the whole agreed with the Coen's choice for their young heroine. Steinfeld received rave reviews for her spirited performance, as well as three Best Supporting Actress awards and a score of nominations from state and national film critic associations. In December of 2010, she received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Female Actor in a Supporting Role, and a month later, an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.