From her beginnings as a Disney Channel child star, to roles in films like Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers and Eli Roth’s Aftershock, Selena Gomez has spent most of her life in the spotlight. Now, with her second solo album Revival, and three films in the pipeline for 2016, she’s proven herself as one of Hollywood’s hardest working young adults.And that’s not counting the 23+ credits already to her name. The LP’s lead single “Good For You” (featuring A$AP Rocky) is a dreamy, slow-burning ballad – a departure from her poppier past.Yet despite the singer and actress’s maturity, more often than not she’s still referred to as a “former child star”, rather than the interesting, prolific young adult she has become. For her Wonderland cover shoot, we paired Gomez up with Canada’s Petra Collins, a photographer known for her colourful coming-of-age portraits. Afterwards, the pair met to discuss Revival, social media, A$AP and what it means to be a young, female artist today.
Author & Photography: Petra Collins | Styling: Danielle Emerson | Makeup: Jake Bailey | Hair: Lona Vigiwww.wonderlandmagazine.com
Petra: It was so fun shooting with you! It was special, because we’re both the same age but do two totally different things.You were just so easy-going. I mean, for someone of your magnitude, it’s so refreshing to see that…
Selena: You’re so sweet! I love going into someone else’s world, I respect you, and all the stuff you’ve done – it’s insane. I wanted you to have the opportunity to shoot me differently to how I’ve ever been shot before, which I think is exactly what we did. I just love to go into someone’s world and collaborate with them…
P: I had the craziest thing happen a few weeks ago when I was coming back from LA… my Spotify stopped working, so I only had time to buy one song on iTunes before my wi-fi shut off and the plane took off. I bought “Good For You” and played it for most of the plane ride. If I really like a song, I listen to it over and over. I’m really excited for your new album and I think everyone is. Talk a little bit about the process of making it and how long it took you.
S: It’s a very specific album, especially because it’s a new chapter for me. It’s under a new label, and it’s the first time I’m stepping in and really getting behind every person I’m working with. Honestly, it’s the first time somebody said, ‘So what do you want to do?’ and I literally had no idea what I wanted to do because I didn’t have anyone to fall back on… I wasn’t asking Disney, I wasn’t asking anyone. It was going to be solely me, and at this point, there had been so many people talking about my life. It was very violating and I think it was such an outlet for me to talk about how I see things. Just about relationships, friendships, how people treat people. Once I realised everybody else is going to say something about me, I wanted the opportunity to actually sit down and figure out what I’m going to say and how I’m going to say it so people can understand me. It took about a year in total to figure it out. Obviously it is exciting, and beautiful, and I can’t wait. It is going to be my revival – that’s why I’ve titled it Revival.
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P: I feel it’s especially important for you to be able to get your voice out, because you’ve grown up in the spotlight. It’s a crazy thing, where everyone is telling your story. You’re a woman now and you are able to make your own sound.
S: Once “Good For You” became the first single, I got A$AP [Rocky]’s number and was like ‘Hey, I’m a really big fan!’ I love him. ‘I would love for you to check out the song,’ and he was like, ‘I think it’s amazing, but can I change some stuff?’ I’m like, ‘Of course, do whatever you want.’ And within two days, he sent me the version that we released to radio.
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P: I was impressed that you decided to make it the first single. Everyone normally releases the most radio-friendly one first. But it’s got this kind of specific mood, like you’re putting this out as a teaser for the theme of the album.
S: That’s exactly the idea! I’m smiling, it makes me really happy, because that is exactly what I wanted. I had a really hard time [deciding on the] first single, because we were going to go with something a little bit more upbeat. I finally decided “Good For You” is going to be the single, because it’s not in anybody’s face and is not trying too hard.
P: What I find the most interesting is that in the last couple of years, social media has become a huge part of our lives. You use Instagram and Twitter as a gateway to connect with your fans. I guess for me and for other young women, it’s also sometimes hard because people see it as a forum to discuss anything about you and your body. What does social media mean for you, at this point of your life?
S: For me, I don’t post everyday unless I’m really excited about something and then usually I’m annoying on it. I’m not going to say I’ve never read the comments, they are right there when you pull up a picture. It’s just one of those places where you have to understand that it’s not real life. I’m so glad that my fans can see my perspective of the world. Which is awesome because I get to share funny photos, or what I’m eating, or where I am. That’s the truth. The problem is that people are looking at all these pages and then they are thinking less of themselves. They feel like they need to be exactly like what these people are posting… all for what? A follow or a like? Literally, for a red heart on a screen. Obviously I’ve been guilty of doing that, I’m not going to say I’ve not had moments where that happened to me. But I had to realise that the real world was exactly where I need to be, or else I’m going to lose my mind. You can do wonderful things with social media, but you can also put the screen down and enjoy people and talk about stuff. Sometimes, I just have to put the news on – just to remind myself that there is stuff going on in the world that doesn’t relate to what ‘this’ person wore. It’s all about your perspective. If anything, I would just encourage my fans and my girls to have a healthy outlook and just talk about it. I love Instagram, I look at it 1,500 times a day, so I’m not bashing it. I just know how obsessive and addictive it can be, and that’s scary.
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P:A Boston radio station asked you to rate yourself.I found that disgusting! It just made me sad that with women and female pop stars, the focus is on your image, or your love life. How do you feel about the way the media presents pop stars like you, or women like you?
S: I think at times, it can be frustrating. I don’t know: when the question came up, to me, I know exactly what music is, I know what radio is. I kind of said what they would expect me to say. You’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t – I’m going to be nice.They’re doing their job, I’m going to do my job. When they want talk about real things, I’ll get back to talking about real things.
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P: Totally – and I’m glad you recognise that and play that game. It’s a lose-lose situation. Switching gears a bit: you both act and make music. What’s the difference between being on stage or being on set. What are your favourite things about each?
S: One of the things I love about being on a set for 14 hours, is this feeling of when I’m done for the day. It’s almost like an adrenaline rush you get from getting off the stage. It requires so much more of my brain to be on set… I’m being challenged by a co-star or being pushed by a director, and there’s this incredible high I get when I feel like I’ve accomplished something great. Then I also get this feeling where if I don’t do something the way I envisioned it, I can be very hard on myself. The reason I love acting is that I challenge myself. I’m in this place in my life where people just assume that I can get anything that I want. But every single thing I’ve done, I’ve earned. I feel that way when I’m on set, and I’m working with people that are challenging me intellectually, emotionally and physically. And with music… I feel so free.When I’m on my own stage, I feel like I want to connect with the whole world. I want to talk about life, I want to talk about what a song means to me. I like to look at that one person who’s not dancing or not smiling and make them smile, that’s the best.
P: It’s important for you to do that, and it’s so important to have a female role model who is coming into her own, too. When I listen to “Good For You”, it’s something that I would listen to when I’m thinking about myself, or trying to feel good about myself. I guess it’s about feeling good about yourself before you try and reach out to someone else, do you know what I mean?
S: Well, that’s the idea. Of course, people are like,“Oh, you’re looking good for someone else,” but the song starts off with, “I’m in my 14 carats, I’m a 14 carat.” It’s basically me saying I’m
a diamond. I can’t explain it – this sensual, romantic, beautiful feeling. I love the feeling of being a woman, I think it’s something we have that’s incredible.Whatever it is that makes you feel sexy: in the video, I was in a white T-shirt with my hair wet, and I think that makes me feel beautiful.
P: Yeah, exactly. If you feel good about yourself and have positive energy, you can conquer and do whatever you want. I feel like that’s what you’re doing right now, which is really exciting.To finish, I’ve put a bunch of silly questions together – I always find those interesting. What’s your favourite old movie?
S: The Wizard of Oz. I just remember, the first song I ever learned to sing was “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. I stood by the fireplace and sung it for my family.
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P: Whose career do you admire? Tough question.
S: I admire Meryl Streep – not only for the longevity of her career, but also how she constantly reinvents herself.
P: Last one.What’s your favourite song – a cry-song and a happy-song?
S: “You Should Be Stronger Than Me” by Amy Winehouse for sure, and then a happy-song… I don’t know, anything from the 70s. I don’t really know a lot about it, but I feel like I grew up wanting to be Penny Lane [from Almost Famous]. I just love it.
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