Selena Gomez has opened up about how she used her past struggles to make her new project as authentic and affecting as possible.
On Wednesday (February 8), the 24-year-old spoke at a panel about executive producing the new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. Based on the popular book, the show follows a high school student’s suicide and tackles issues of depression and bullying. At the panel, Gomez drew parallels between the characters in the series and her own personal struggles, explaining that production began just as she sought help for mental health issues last year.
“To be frank with you, I actually was going through a really difficult time when they started production,” she said. “I went away for 90 days, and I actually met a ton of kids in this place that were talking about issues that these characters are experiencing.”
She continued, “I would say yes, I have to deal with it on a different scale, whether it was just kids or growing up in the biggest high school of the world, which was Disney Channel. It was also adults that had the audacity to tell me how to live my life. It was very confusing for me, it was so confusing. I had no idea who I was going to be.”
Last August, Gomez announced that she was taking a break from the spotlight, and two months later, she checked into rehab to deal with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. Since she’s returned to the public sphere, Gomez has been particularly vocal about the ills of social media, which she believes can fuel destructive behavior in young, impressionable people.
“It’s hard right now. I can’t stand social media, I can’t stand what they’re looking at,” she said at the panel. “I can’t stand what they think is reality, and the show is as real as it could possibly get.
“I want them to understand it,” she continued. “I would do anything to be able to have a good influence on this generation, but I definitely relate to everything that was going on [in the show]. I was there for the last episode, and I was a mess just seeing it all come to life because I’ve experienced that.”
13 Reasons Why hits Netflix on March 31.