Pop Stars in Training
Chloe and Halle Bailey can’t get over these power balls. Sitting at a table on the front patio of a North Hollywood vegan juice shop one late-summer afternoon, the sisters pick apart the dense truffles, each about the size of a pingpong ball and made up of chia seeds, almond butter, agave sweetener, and chocolate chips. The two seem overcome by how delicious they are.
“The chia seeds are like tiny bubbles,” Chloe, 18, says to her sister.
“They taste like Snickers,” Halle, 16, replies.
It’s taken a lot to get to this simple moment: I’ve been volleying emails (76 of them) with the girls’ team for nearly a month, coordinating with publicists, stylists, the creative director, the project manager, an administrative assistant, and their parents, trying to nail down an afternoon for an interview. The whole experience was like wrangling an interview with Beyoncé herself — but that’s probably because Chloe and Halle’s people are Beyoncé’s people.
The story goes like this: Three years ago — not long after the Baileys moved from Atlanta to Los Angeles so their daughters could pursue music careers — Queen Bey came across the sisters’ ethereal, expertly harmonized cover of her song “Pretty Hurts” on YouTube. Bey swiftly signed Chloe x Halle to her management company, Parkwood Entertainment, making them the first — and so far most successful — members of the superstar’s burgeoning protégé posse.
Since then, the girls have gained fans in the Obamas, performing at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll and singing on the first lady’s charity single; appeared alongside their mentor in her Emmy-nominated visual album Lemonade; released an EP of original music, featuring production from Beyoncé’s heavy hitters Hit-Boy and Tony Maserati; toured that music as an opening act for Beyoncé in Europe and the States; and prepared a debut album, which they expect to release “later this year, but if not, definitely early next year,” according to Halle. Meanwhile, their YouTube channel has racked up more than 700,000 subscribers, and their videos have tens of millions of views.
It’s clear the moment you meet them, however, that all the chaos and pressure that usually come with such high-octane work — all the chaos and pressure that seem evident among their team — hardly register with them at all. They’re excited about an upcoming performance they’re doing at a local school.
“We just want to inspire,” explains Halle. “We haven’t really done this before, but we think it’s really important, because the youth is the future, you know?”
Yes, they are that earnest — not to mention uncannily friendly, in the way one might expect child stars to be, except their enthusiasm seems fully genuine. Within ten minutes of meeting me, between them they have complimented nearly everything I’m wearing, down to individual tattoos. As we chat, two separate passing fans double take, then stop to proclaim their love of the girls’ music; both times the sisters mirror their excitement, asking their names, shaking their hands, and thanking them with grace and poise befitting royalty.
The level of self-possession they exude, even when talking about skateboarding or watching Love & Hip Hop, is equal parts natural warmth and practiced mindfulness (they make vision boards every New Year’s, believe that everything happens for a reason, and use the word vibe as multiple parts of speech). It’s actually a little unsettling. Surely this must get stressful sometimes?
“No,” Chloe says.
“This is fun for us,” Halle echoes.
“I like being busy,” Chloe insists. “I love the business pace.” She adds, “We’re so blessed at this age to be doing what we love.”
Of course, the ride has been a little more complicated for their parents, who act as the girls’ day-to-day managers. “We’ve had to get used to the frequency because it’s all the time now,” says their father, Doug. “It’s a lifestyle now. You’re always gone, and you’re always doing [something].” But the girls? “They don’t realize they’re working yet,” he says.
Chloe and Halle aren’t the first young stars to have this kind of career, but their journey has been one of the quickest and most electric of their generation. They’ve come to embody, in its purest form, what it means to be a teen sensation in this era: to develop independently, thrive as fully DIY musicians on the internet, and then to be discovered at a key moment, brought into a powerful fold and provided hands-off mentoring, virtually unlimited resources, and a colossal platform, all while being spared the lion’s share of day-to-day headaches and while maintaining a total artistic control traditionally reserved for seasoned hitmakers. The biggest young stars are no longer manufactured — they’re grown like sensitive orchids.
“What we want to do, we get to do. What we want to say, we get to say,” says Chloe. “We’ve been singing ever since we were little babies. We’ve been writing our own stuff since we were 10 and 8, just working on our craft. We always knew somewhere deep in our hearts it would happen.”
And now that it’s started to happen, all they have to do, they say, is keep doing what they’ve always done. “That’s always a staple that Beyoncé wanted us to just have,” says Halle. “To just be free and not have any limits or boundaries. That’s why we’re so grateful, because we can paint all over the place, and then hopefully it will be a masterpiece.”