Selena Gomez’s new project is hitting close to home.
The pop star is no stranger to the world of acting, but this time she’s stepping behind the camera to executive produce “13 Reasons Why,” an upcoming Netflix series that doesn’t shy away from issues like depression, suicide and bullying.
Based off the young adult fiction novel of the same name, “13 Reasons Why” follows a high school student named Clay who discovers tapes from a classmate, Hannah, who recently committed suicide. The recordings detail the reasons behind her decision to take her own life, one of which happens to be him. Gomez was originally in talks to play Hannah when she and her mom optioned the book in 2011, but took on the role of executive producer when the series was developed for Netflix.
Speaking at a Netflix press event on Wednesday, Gomez drew parallels between the characters in the series and her own personal struggles as of late, explaining that she missed most of shooting because of her rehab stay at the tail end of last year.
“I think that my high school experience may have been a little amplified, so I wouldn’t say it was worse, but it definitely made it harder,” said Gomez. “To be frank with you, I actually was going through a really difficult time when they started production.”
“I went away for 90 days, and I actually met tons of kids in this place that we’re talking about the 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.”
Gomez, who’s battled health issues for years, released a statement about taking a career break after a particularly stressful period in her life in August. Two months later, she reportedly checked into a rehab facility to deal with mental health issues, including anxiety, panic attacks and depression.
Since she’s returned to the spotlight, Gomez has been particularly vocal about the ills of social media, something she believes fuels destructive tendencies in her young fans.
“It’s hard right now. I can’t stand social media, I can’t stand what they’re looking at,” she said at the event. “I can’t stand what they think is reality, and the show is 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.”