Selena Gomez
Photo: Getty

Yesterday afternoon, Selena Gomez took a break from teasing everyone on Instagram to discuss her upcoming Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. The teen series, based on a YA novel, follows a high school teenager who’s trying to piece together why his classmate committed suicide based on the clues she left him. It explores the impact of bullying; it shows the pressure teens are under in the social media age, where everyone is connected—and judging each other’s digital footprint. Gomez—who took a break last fall to go into rehab to treat depression and anxiety caused by lupus—was drawn to this because she lived it, growing up Disney. She still lives it now.

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“To be frank with you, I actually was going through a really difficult time when they started production,” she told the Netflix panel. “I went away for 90 days, and I actually met tons of kids in this place that were talking about a lot of the issues that you know, these characters are experiencing.”

“I’ve had to deal with [the pressure and scrutiny] on a different scale. Whether it was just kids or growing up in the biggest high school in the world, which was Disney Channel, it was also adults that had you know, the audacity to kind of tell me how I should live my life and it was very confusing for me. It was so confusing. I had no idea who I was going to be and what I’m still going to become and it definitely hits home.”

The series, while dark and hard to take in, “is what they need to see. Like, we’re not going to post things that are like, ‘Hey, be empowered’ because that’s not what they want to see. Unfortunately kids don’t care. They don’t care. They have to see something that’s going to shake them. They have to see something that’s frightening.”

Gomez wants to help kids and parents become more empathetic to the mental struggles their peers are going through. “I want them to understand it,” she said. “I would do anything to be able to have a good influence on this generation. And it’s hard but I definitely relate to everything that was going on. I was there for the last episode and I was a mess just seeing it all come to life ’cause I’ve experienced just that for sure.”

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“I’m very honest, and whether I like it or not, people have seen a lot of my mistakes. And I have to use that as a good thing because then [fans] are able to trust me with that.”

“It’s hard, it’s hard right now. Like, I can’t stand social media. I can’t stand what they’re looking at. I can’t stand what they think is reality.”

To Gomez, teens just need actual, in-person social connection and compassion. “We’re just so disconnected to people now,” she said. “And it’s hard when you’re looking at something every single day, you’re missing your entire life in front of you. And you think you have to look a certain way. There are 17-year-olds who look older than me. That freaks me out. I had like pigtails in my hair at 17, it’s a very real thing. That’s why I am glad it took this long to create something like this [series], because we held out for something great.”

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13 Reasons Why premieres on March 31.

From: Harper’s BAZAAR US