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EXCLUSIVE | 'Dickinson' Season 2: Hailee Steinfeld on fame and searching the same answers as Emily Dickinson

In a chat with MEAWW, creator Alena Smith, Hailee Steinfeld, Ella Hunt and the rest of the cast of 'Dickinson' sit down to discuss fame and the plot of Season 2
Hailee Steinfeld and Ella Hunt in Season 2 of 'Dickinson' (Apple TV+)
Hailee Steinfeld and Ella Hunt in Season 2 of 'Dickinson' (Apple TV+)

Hailee Steinfeld says she has never much thought of fame. But playing the role of Emily Dickinson on Season 2 of 'Dickinson' forced upon her the same questions as the late poet. "I found myself searching for the answers to the same questions that Emily was trying to find answers to — what is fame, what is it going to mean once I have it? Am I able to determine how much of it I want? And once I have it, can I give it back?" As she discusses the show ahead of its release on Apple TV+ early in January 2021, Steinfeld touches upon a number of subjects pertaining to Emily Dickinson and her journey to becoming a legendary poet. Already scoring an early Season 3 renewal, Dickinson's story is going to go on for a while, but here's what Season 2 will focus on. 

For one of the most celebrated American poets, fame came posthumously. Yet it did not stop Emily Dickinson from writing some of the most profound poems ever known to literature. In Season 2 of the Apple TV+ series 'Dickinson', creator Alena Smith draws the focus on fame as Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) constantly grapples with the question: To be (published) or not to be (published)? It begins to haunt her so much so that it becomes physically impossible for her to remain a nobody. In a chat with MEAWW, Alena Smith, Hailee Steinfeld, Ella Hunt and the rest of the cast of 'Dickinson' sit down to discuss fame for the dead poet, celebrity culture, politics and character developments in Season 2. 

Anna Baryshnikov as Lavinia 'Vinnie' Dickinson and Hailee Steinfeld as Emily Dickinson (AppleTV+)

Picking up from the events of Season 1, Season 2 of 'Dickinson' thrusts Emily into a whirlpool of changes. Life in 1859 Amherst, Massachusetts, is constantly evolving and Emily is at the center of it all — although she would very much prefer to be left alone in the confines of her room. But with the rise of media and consumption of the daily newspaper, Emily Dickinson finds herself under a lot of pressure. Being published has always been a dream and now when it could finally come true, Emily cannot bring herself to fully trust it. As editor of The Springfield Republican, Sam Bowles (Finn Jones) brings with himself a lot of promise... Emily thinks she is ready for the limelight but hardly so. "I definitely can relate to Emily's intrigue, confusion and curiosity about fame, but thankfully not her struggle," Steinfeld says during the interview. 

Alena also writes about another key character's struggle to getting published. Henry (Chinaza Uche) is not just another one of Dickinson's helps this season. He is secretly mobilizing an underground radical movement for abolition, writings about which could cost him his life. Yet in the show when Emily asks him if he would like to own his writing, he says, "Who wouldn't?" 

"'Dickinson' as a show is really about the interlocked question of privilege and oppression," Alena explains. "Emily is a figure who embodies both things. She has forms of privilege as a white daughter of aristocrats growing up in a very literary context in New England. But of course, she's also a woman at a time when women are not allowed to vote, they're not allowed to own property, their lives are controlled by their fathers and then their husbands or their brothers."

'Dickinson' (Apple TV+)

In Season 2 of 'Dickinson', Emily's closest relationships also change drastically, particularly with her beloved Sue (Ella Hunt). Now her brother Austin Dickinson's (Adrian Enscoe) wife, Sue is not the same woman Emily once loved. As you may have guessed from the trailer, Sue steps into her own and becomes a socialite throwing parties and soirees, immersing herself in the culture scene. Sue's relationship with Emily also changes as she pushes her to get published. At the same time, things are tense with husband Austin as the show focuses on marriages and the agency of women in the 1850s. With her sister Lavinia 'Vinnie' Dickinson (Anna Baryshnikov). Emily's relationship becomes more intimate and Season 2 delves deeper into how Lavinia went on to be Emily's caretaker. 

The new season of 'Dickinson' promises to be a ride throughout. The dark comedy is a heady mix of historical facts and fiction and Steinfeld's portrayal only gets better from Season 1. Alena Smith is not kidding around with her rendition of the celebrated poet — in fact, she is going to ask you the tough questions, ones that implore you to look within. 


Season 2 of 'Dickinson' releases globally on Apple TV+ on January 8, 2021. The first three episodes will drop on the day, following which, 'Dickinson' will premiere weekly every Friday.