Actress and singer Selena Gomez revealed the simple three-word phrase that she was not allowed to say while working for Disney, saying that it was all part of the image she was supposed to project as a role model for girls and young women.
Gomez spent her formative years playing teen wizard Alex Russo on the hit Disney sitcom “Wizards of Waverly Place,” which ran from 2007 to 2012, and she said that she put additional pressure on herself to be the best role model she could be while she was working on the show.
The “Only Murders in the Building” star explained during an interview published Wednesday by Vanity Fair that “I wasn’t a wild child by any means, but I was on Disney, so I had to make sure not to say ‘What the hell?’ in front of anyone. It’s stuff that I was also putting on myself to be the best role model I could be.”
Gomez, who recently went public with her personal struggles with bipolar disorder and anxiety, said that she has since come to believe that being a good role model is more about being authentic and truthful than about cultivating and presenting a specific image: “Now I think being the best role model is being honest, even with the ugly and complicated parts of yourself.”
The actress went on to say that she had worked hard, particularly in recent years, to put distance between herself and who she was while she was working for Disney. She explained that it was not about feeling any shame or regret from the time she spent working there, but more about the fact that she wanted to fully embrace who she had become.
“I definitely feel free of it,” she said of her time as a Disney star. “Sometimes I get triggered. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my past, it’s just that I’ve worked so hard to find my own way. I don’t want to be who I was. I want to be who I am.”
Gomez currently stars alongside comedic legends — and real-life close friends — Steve Martin and Martin Short in Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building,” and she said that the two have become like her “grandpas.”
“I really love them. I don’t like calling them my grandpas, but they kind of are. They’ll tell me the same jokes and I laugh every time,” she said. “What’s funny is Marty will text me, but Steve will not. He has my email, but he won’t send me the email. He will send it to [my assistant]. I think he wants to be polite. It’s very endearing, but he makes it a whole thing.”
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