Selena Gomez revealed in a new interview that she was bullied during her days on the Disney Channel, which she described as “the biggest high school in the world.”
Speaking with the New York Times for a profile published on Wednesday, March 22, the 24-year-old pop star opened up about the tough times she endured as a teen actress on Wizards of Waverly Place.
During her chat with the newspaper, Gomez explained why she wanted to option the rights to author Jay Asher’s novel Thirteen Reasons Why — a story about a student who takes her own life after being relentlessly tormented at school — which she is now producing as a show for Netflix.
“I think he understood that I knew what it meant to be bullied,” the “Kill Em With Kindness” singer said. “I went to the biggest high school in the world, which is the Disney Channel. And my mom had a lot of history dealing with [bullying]. I heard her stories growing up. She’s very open about it.”
Gomez’s mother, Mandy Teefey, who also serves as a producer on the project, told the New York Times that she had a hard time growing up in Texas. “When I was growing up, I was always bullied because I was the outsider, the weird girl with the purple hair and combat boots,” she said. “Then I was a teen mom. You get really judged. I had counselors telling me how I’d ruined my life, [Selena’s] life and how I ruined the father’s life, even though he participated.”
Though her Disney days are over, Gomez — who reigns as the most followed celebrity on Instagram — still deals with haters online. “I delete the app from my phone at least once a week,” she said with a laugh. “You fixate on the [negative] ones. 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.”
The Spring Breakers star, who suffers from lupus and has previously grappled with anxiety and depression, completed a 90-day rehab stint for health reasons last year. Throughout that time, Gomez felt like her experience was somewhat reflected in the narrative of Thirteen Reasons Why. “It felt like [the show] was mirroring what was going on in my life,” she told the publication.
Thirteen Reasons Why premieres on Netflix Friday, March 31.