Selena Gomez: I Never Intended My Life To Be This Exposed


Selena Gomez’s new album Revival releases October 9th.

At just 23 years old, Selena is already a Hollywood veteran. She made her debut at age 7 on Barney and Friends, became a Disney star, moved into film (from Ramona and Beezus to Spring Breakers), and released five albums. Along the way, she’s had high-profile relationships with Nick Jonas and Justin Bieber and became part of BFF Taylor Swift’s #girlsquad, appearing in the singer’s buzzy “Bad Blood” music video. This past year has been all about change for Selena, as she’s taking control of her career. She has a new management team, left her old record label for Interscope Records, and is launching a new album, Revival October 9th. Selena is also the new face of Pantene’s Strong is Beautiful campaign, which seems like the perfect tagline for the confident star.

Interviewing Selena, it’s hard not to notice how thoughtful she is. When I asked Selena a question from my 8-year-old niece Sydney, she didn’t give the light answer I expected. She went deeper, saying, “You just have to challenge yourself and guard your heart.” The self-made star also talked openly about dealing with fame — “I never intended my life to be this exposed” — and about what she really wants out of her career — “I want to use my platform and my voice in a meaningful way.” As a driven, self-reflective star with this much talent, I can’t wait to see how her revival goes.

Bobbi Brown: Hey Selena! So nice to talk to you. Where are you right now?

Selena Gomez: I’m in Miami. I was doing press for Hotel Transylvania 2. Kicking it with some little kids.

When I told my 8-year-old niece that I was interviewing you, she was like “Oh my God, Aunt Bobbi, you are so lucky.” I said, “What you would ask her if you could?” She said, “I would ask her to give me any kind of advice. Like, what do I need to know to grow up to have a good life?”

Oh, my goodness! Eight! Well, for me, I started acting when I was 7. I’ve always worked very hard. I was really terrible at math and certain things in school, but I full-on just dedicated my life to working really hard. I come from nothing, literally, and my mom has always been my idol. I look up to her. She’s just great and has done more and better for herself. You just have to challenge yourself and guard your heart, because now with social media there is so much access to people’s feelings and their hearts more than ever. That’s my main thing. I am so terrified for my little sister to go to school because everything has changed and gotten a little bit more intense. Obviously don’t tell her that part, but I would say to guard your heart and that’s an important part. Respect family and cherish your mom and everything you have around you.

That’s great life advice for an 8-year-old, or anyone really. I agree with you about social media. How do you deal with the negativity of social media? Are you able to ignore it?

Sometimes. And to be honest, I’ve had a week of deleting my Instagram off my phone, so I didn’t have it, and I would have to go to my laptop if I wanted to post something — so that I wouldn’t get caught up in it. You always get wrapped up in it. You look at one image and then you’re on different pages, and then you are 52 weeks in, and it’s just a lot. I don’t know how I can get through it other than to just know that it isn’t real. I have to put my phone down and look up and look at life and know that I’m in this moment that I’ll never have again, and I need to enjoy it and not give in to those people.

You sound like an old soul. You seem very grown up for someone your age.

Thank you. I’m definitely an old soul. My mom always jokes and says that I was born in the wrong era. I didn’t know how Spotify worked. I didn’t have a Twitter until ages ago. It was that kind of stuff to me has never been important. My mom listened to Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, and Nat King Cole. I grew up with my mom as an inspiration; she was an incredibly artistic, free person, and I loved that. I admire that in her, and that has trickled down to me a little.

You’re so incredibly famous. You’ve been in the public eye forever. Can you go out with your friends and have dinner? Or is there always somebody hounding, ready to take a picture? Can you ever be normal?

It depends. I know my places. It’s good to know different spots that you can go to. My friends, luckily, are kind of … I don’t draw attention to myself, is what I’m getting at. If I came from Press and I’m in a gorgeous dress and I go out for drinks, people are going to notice. But to be honest, I’m in jeans, pumps, and a cute blazer and my hair in a bun, and that’s just kind of my vibe. So you just kind of have to be like: OK, what type of evening do I want to have? Do I want to just go out and not be recognized at all, or be OK with it and look nice and just kind of enjoy the night? It just depends.

Do you ever just want to escape and lock your door and be by yourself?

I think for a while I was spending too much time alone. I can sit with myself and think about what I want to think about, cry if I need to cry, listen to music, and be in your own silence — be still. And I think that’s great for everybody to do. But for a while, with all of the scrutiny, I never intended my life to be this exposed. That wasn’t my goal. I wasn’t like, “I want to be superfamous and known, and everybody needs to touch my life.” I love my job. I work really hard at it. I just want it to be about what I love. I think because of that, I needed to understand that being alone is good, but I also really need to be with people. I was scared. I was scared of trusting people, of letting people in. My roommates would come down and ask to sit with me, and I would be like, “No, I don’t feel good.” Now, I am understanding the balance better. I need people to hear me, and my best friends are my best friends. It was just easier for me to just deal with it all by myself and open the door and put on a face and go through my day. Now I am able to sit with it and talk it out.

Have you found anything that really helps, whether it’s exercise, yoga, talking it out?

Yeah, absolutely. I started doing Pilates. I love the active movement in Pilates. If I don’t work out, I feel heavy. Everything about me just feels a little bit down. And sometimes I will just run on the treadmill and get emotional because it sort of relieves everything that you’re feeling. Also, little things: I love cooking. That makes me feel very calm, and it makes me feel like a normal person.

What do you cook?

I cook everything. I’m not a baker because I can’t follow recipes. I can do a little bit of that, but I don’t like it. I do stir-fry, lettuce wraps, pad thai, and I can do tons of pasta dishes. I love casseroles. I’m from Texas. I just bought a fryer, so I made fried chicken and waffles the other morning.

I love to cook, and it settles me and makes me feel good. I happen to be a health fanatic, because I think that also helps when you’re not 100 percent. What works for you?

I love ginger shots with a little turmeric in it. Because I travel so much, I usually take one every day. I do have a juicer. I’ll try to fit everything in that.


Part of Taylor Swift’s #girlsquad. Photo: Instagram

Your new campaign for Pantene is called Strong is Beautiful. I think that’s an awesome tagline. Is it relatable to you?

Of course. I think this has been a huge transitional year for me. I got a new team. I started working with Pantene. The biggest thing for me is that I met with them three or four times before we did anything, because we both wanted to get to know each other. I don’t want to put my name on something — that’s not me. I don’t want a paycheck. I’ve been working my ass off for so long that I just want to do what I love and I want to use my platform. I don’t want to just be a famous person. I want to use my platform and my voice in a meaningful way. They were totally down for that. They have the Beautiful Lengths campaign, which is: Donate eight inches of hair or $8 to contribute to making real hair wigs for women as they’re undergoing cancer treatment. We just talked through all of it, and it’s just where I am in my life. I feel like it’s the best place I’ve ever been. I feel confident, I feel liberated, I love the place I’m in, and it just kind of worked out perfectly.

Your hair always looks good, and I’m sure you probably have a hairdresser most of the time, like many women in the spotlight. Are you good at blow-drying your own hair?

I can. I have to be honest, when I have extensions in, it’s way harder. I go for the natural look when I’m on my down time. I will use the hair oil. There’s this amazing hair oil that Pantene has. I’ll put some of the hairspray and crunch it in for these natural, beachy waves. I kind of go the easy route when I’m doing it myself.

When you’re having not a good hair day, what do you do to your hair? Bun or ponytail?

I’m a bun girl, for sure. If I’m having a bad hair day, my ponytail isn’t going to look good.

I think the bun is the best hair trend out there. I can’t blow-dry my hair, by the way. So I do rely on hairdressers. Thank God for the bun.

I know. I feel you.


On tour with Taylor Swift. Photo: Instagram

What about makeup? Do you love natural or trendy?

I love makeup. I love being able to embellish certain things and parts of my face and adding great products and glitter or whatever, but I can’t rely on it. In this industry, when you have people do your makeup every day, there comes a moment when you’re just seeing your face that way, and that’s not your face. It’s like I have moments when I wake up, and I’m like, “Whoa, I look a little crazy right now.” I think for me, it’s just about a perspective on it. I have so much fun. I do my roommate’s makeup, we go out, I love that, but I never want to rely on it. I honestly don’t care what style it is. If I’m doing a concert, I will tell them to do a really cool, edgy smoky eye. And if I’m doing a morning show, I will say to go natural. You kind of go with the flow.

Your new album Revival is really about showing a new side of you. You have a new team, a new label. There’s a lot of newness. That must be feeling really amazing. I love starting over.

I mean, yeah, I was terrified. I’m not good with change. I’m very loyal and committed, and I like being that way. But at the same time, I was being shoved into this corner … not forcefully or anything, but I felt like I was being held in one place, and I was just desperate to be out of it and to feel something else. I wanted to be heard. That’s why I reached the point where I needed to make some really big changes in my life and do it all at once and take a chance. I met Debbie Amin, my agency, and John Janet became someone I ended up confiding in most of the time. That’s how Interscope happened. I followed my gut, followed my heart, and now I’ve been working with them for a year. I have to say it feels good. It feels right. It feels like we have a fluid system.

Is there anything you want to try, that you haven’t yet?

I would love to do something like own a café or something. I don’t know where, but that would be a goal of mine. But I don’t even think I’ve scratched the surface of acting. I really want to take a good amount of time to focus on that. I really, really think I haven’t done something in that world yet where I think, “This is going to be incredible, this is going to be the one.” And that is something I want to tackle too.

I can’t wait to see what you do next. It was so nice talking to you Selena. Good luck with everything.

Thanks, Bobbi!


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