Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers for “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me.”
Singer and actress Selena Gomez’s long awaited documentary, “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me,” was released Nov. 4 on Apple TV. The film gives a look into her life behind closed doors for the first time. It witnesses the former Disney Channel star getting candid about her recent battle with lupus and her mental health, all while balancing her obligations as a celebrity.
The first part of the documentary looks back on her 2016 “Revival Tour,” which was her second solo concert tour. From outfit fittings to rehearsals, the tour was a break away from her Disney Channel teen idol image, and established her as a mature artist and woman.
Gomez was in her early 20s at the time, but she had already reached a level of fame that separated her from the rest. She was the star in Disney Channel’s “Wizards of Waverly Place” that premiered in 2007. When the show ended in 2012, she began taking on risque projects such as the 2012 film “Spring Breakers.” She was also involved in a highly publicized relationship with Canadian singer Justin Bieber, which would ultimately end in 2018 after being on-and-off for nearly a decade.
Unfortunately, the criticism and expectation to succeed in the industry was slowly crushing Gomez, as she broke down with her crew after rehearsing for the tour. “The pressure is just overwhelming because I wanna do the best I can,” Gomez said.
After 55 performances, the tour was canceled due to her depression and anxiety. On top of undergoing a kidney transplant in 2017 because of complications of an autoimmune disease, she experienced an emotional breakdown that resulted in her being admitted into a psychiatric facility. It was then she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
“I’m gonna be honest. I didn’t want to go to a mental health hospital,” she said. “I didn’t want to, but I didn’t want to be trapped in myself — in my mind anymore.”
Fast forward to 2019, she began to finally reflect on the changes in her life. Needing a break for her sanity, Gomez returned to her hometown of Grand Prairie, Texas to reconnect with old neighbors and friends. There, she visited her childhood home and the middle school she used to attend.
“After I got out of the last treatment center, I knew what made me happy was connection,” she said.
In a montage of home videos, viewers caught a glimpse of her parents raising her as high schoolers, though they would split when she was five years old. As a result, her biological father was not as present in her upbringing as she would have liked. However, the times they did spend together are distinctly held near and dear to her heart.
“He has a lot of regrets…” she said, tearfully. “But, he made me feel like I was the, like, prettiest young girl. Like I [could] do anything…”
Later on, Gomez ventured off to Kenya in collaboration with WE Charity alongside her close friend Raquelle Stevens. Here, she was able to speak with young students and connect with them on a spiritual level outside of the glamour of Hollywood. In an inspiring testimony, one of the students had an intimate conversation with Gomez regarding their perseverance in life.
“I always tell myself that no matter what people think about me, and what God has planned for me in my life, that is what I will achieve in life,” the student said.
In an epiphanic moment, she was flourishing being surrounded by a community that valued self-reflection and encouragement. Unfortunately, Gomez’s blissful time at Kenya was short-lived when she returned back to her reality of press tours and interviews that were on full display after the trip. Suddenly, the effervescent glow on her face was replaced by a fabricated smirk for the cameras.
“I feel like a product,” she exclaimed angrily after an interviewer asked her shallow questions.
When the next interview required her to sit in the mirror and ask herself questions such as “What’s your ultimate dream?” she revealed her desire to help peoples’ lives. Ultimately, “That I could be a voice for others” she said. In the midst of this, the adrenaline rush of productivity took a toll on her physical well-being when a relapse of lupus struck.
“Like, in the morning when I wake up, I immediately start crying because it hurts,” she explained as she sought medical consultation to cope with the intense symptoms.
“I don’t wanna be, like, super famous. I don’t wanna be all that stuff. But, I do know that if I’m here, I have to use that for good,” she confessed.
Whether it is engaging in volunteer work or rekindling past relationships, “My Mind & Me” explores Gomez’s search for purpose. In an industry that disillusions people from the actualities of life, she demonstrated the ways in which she has fallen victim to it.
However, she hopes her self-awareness has given others the courage to not be ashamed of admitting personal turmoils.
“When you’re struggling with your mental health, the essential part of it is knowing what to do and recognizing that,” she said.
Celebrities are often seen as completely disconnected from society and are put on a pedestal. Through her transparency, she managed to convey that her life is not perfect whatsoever.
To accompany her documentary, her single “My Mind and Me” further reveals her internal conflicts and explores the misjudgment of her life due to fame. In doing so, Gomez breaks this boundary and reminds us she is a human being as well.
Gomez implored her audience to not be so self-critical, and embrace tribulations as a stepping stool for success. Despite the hardships being in a spotlight brings, she appreciates the opportunities her platform provides. She intends to use it wisely by shedding light on difficult topics such as mental health and debilitating ailments.
This documentary is not a request for pity. Instead, it is a celebration of honesty. As Gomez said herself, “I’m a work in progress. I am enough. I am Selena.”
Julissa Ramirez is an Arts & Entertainment Intern for the fall 2022 quarter. She can be reached at email@example.com.