Gomez has since moved on to more “mature roles” and recently explained why her next career venture — Netflix’s Thirteen Reasons Why — hits so close to home for her. In a recent interview with The New York Times, Gomez said she wanted to adapt author Jay Asher’s YA novel Thirteen Reasons Why — the story of a young woman who commits suicide, but leaves behind 13 cassette tapes for all the people who contributed to her death — into a show because she related to the lead character.
“I think [Asher] understood that I knew what it meant to be bullied. I went to the biggest high school in the world, which is the Disney Channel,” Gomez, 24, shared about her early days as a child actor. “And my mom had a lot of history dealing with [bullying]. I heard her stories growing up. She’s very open about it.”
The “Kill ‘Em with Kindness” singer’s mother, Mandy Teefey, discovered the book while browsing Barnes & Noble and was compelled by the deep embed in the hellscape of lust, envy, secrecy, and despair known as high school and social media.
“When I was on Wizards of Waverly Place, we didn’t have social media really. Twitter had just begun,” Gomez continued. “Every Friday, I’d get to do a live taping in front of all these little kids and make their life. That’s when I was the happiest. Then, as I got older, I watched it go from zero to a hundred. So I’m actually glad it took us this long to create this project because it’s so relevant now.”
And even though she currently holds the title of most-followed celebrity on Instagram with over 114 million followers, she admitted that she has to cut herself off from the app due to the negative comments.
“You can’t avoid it sometimes. I delete the app from my phone at least once a week. You fixate on the [negative] ones,” said Gomez, who took a 90-day career hiatus to focus on her lupus diagnosis and anxiety and depression. “They’re not like, ‘You’re ugly.’ It’s like they want to cut to your soul. Imagine all the insecurities that you already feel about yourself and having someone write a paragraph pointing out every little thing — even if it’s just physical.”