Selena Gomez's long history of being in Hollywood is something she is very aware of. She started her career on Barney, then made the easy transition into Disney Channel child star. She grew up on a beloved kids'/pre-teen series, Wizards of Waverly Place. As Alex Russo, the middle sister in a family of wizards in Manhattan, she provided sass and wit on the series, before making the (at the time) unforeseeable leap to edgier projects movies Spring Breakers and "Hands To Myself."
And despite how famous she is, she has dealt with all of the same issues, insecurities, and uncertainties as even the most normal teenager, thanks to her spending her formative years on the set of a Disney Channel series.
In an interview with The New York Times, Gomez says that working at the network (famous for priming young talent to be child stars and often times not much more), she was provided with an experience similar to the one portrayed in the new Netflix series Thirteen Reasons Why (which she executive-produced). But not in a good way.
"I went to the biggest high school in the world, which is the Disney Channel," she said point-blank while talking about why she felt such a deep connection to the Jay Asher YA book upon which the series was based on. "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, agreed with her 24-year-old daughter (who she had at age 16) and followed up with: "When I was growing up, I was always bullied because I was the outsider, the weird girl with the purple hair and combat boots. 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."
One can assume that Disney is not happy with hearing that the way the network treats its stars (or allows its stars to treat each other) mirrors that of a fictional novel where a young girl commits suicide after feeling judged, isolated, and bullied by her peers (specifically 13 of them, who she says drove her to kill herself). The comparison is hard to hear, especially knowing many child actors go through the halls of Disney High. But Gomez turned out okay, and hopefully those watching her new show, or reading Asher's book, will know that they will turn out a-okay, too. No matter how dismal everything seems at 16.