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Selena Gomez Sometimes Gets ‘Triggered’ by Her Past on Disney Channel: ‘I Don’t Want to Be Who I Was’

Selena Gomez at the Variety Hitmakers Brunch in Los Angeles, CA on December 3, 2022.Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock

Who says she can’t let go? Selena Gomez no longer feels constrained by her former Disney star label  — but getting there wasn’t always easy. 

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“I definitely feel free of it,” Gomez, 30, told Vanity Fair in an interview published on Wednesday, February 15. “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.” 

The Only Murders in the Building actress – who rose to fame starring as rebellious Alex Russo on Disney’s Wizard of Waverly Place from 2007 to 2012 — shared that she wasn’t a “wild child” in her teen years “by any means,” but there were still rules to follow laid down by the network.

“I had to make sure not to say ‘What the hell?’ in front of anyone,” she explained to the outlet, adding that she also put pressure on herself to “be the best role model I could be.” 

Gomez has often gotten candid about the struggles she faced while being a child star, saying during the TCA Summer 2021 Tour that she “signed my life away to Disney at a very young age and I didn’t know what I was doing.” 

Now, the “Lose You to Love Me” singer is all about authenticity. Gomez opened up about the honesty she’s tried to put out into the world during her Apple TV+ documentary, Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me. “Now I think being the best role model is being honest, even with the ugly and complicated parts of yourself,” she explained in the film.

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“Now I don’t feel like I’m lying to people,” Gomez continued. “It’s not that I was lying … I was scared of what people would think or that people wouldn’t hire me. Now I don’t think that way. I understand that if it doesn’t feel good to me, then I need to step back and evaluate. Is this friendship giving me something? Is this project a really good one?”

My Mind and Me, which premiered in November 2022, chronicled the Ramona and Beezus star’s physical and mental journey between 2016 and 2020. Gomez was diagnosed with lupus in 2015 and revealed her bipolar disorder in 2020 — something she says made her “completely fall out” of her mind. 

“It was like, ‘Hey you’re not a bad person, you’re not a gross person, you’re not any of this. But you’re going to have to deal with this,” she explained in the documentary. “‘I know it’s a lot but this is the reality.’ And I found having a relationship with bipolar and myself — it’s going to be there. I’m just making it my friend to know. I think that I needed to go through that to be who I am and I’m going to keep going through that.”

Related: Selena Gomez's Mental Health Battle in Her Own Words

Gomez’s willingness to be open about her mental health struggles led to My Mind and Me earning critical acclaim. Her hit Hulu series earned her a 2023 Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy. It’s an honor the “Back to You” crooner manifested back when she was still part of the Disney machine. 

When asked if winning a Grammy is an aspiration of hers on the 2011 Grammys red carpet, Gomez replied, “I think it would be an honor, of course, but I’m more of a Golden Globe or Oscar girl so — it would be nice.”

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