Selena Gomez decided to stay behind the scenes on new teen drama 13 Reasons Why because she didn’t want her pop stardom to take credibility away from the series.
The former Wizards of Waverly Place star was just 15 when she optioned the rights to author Jay Asher’s 2007 bestseller of the same name, about a high school student who takes her own life, and she and her mother, Mandy Teefey, have since produced a TV adaptation for streaming service Netflix.
Acting newcomer Katherine Langford portrays the tragic teen on the show, alongside co-stars including Dylan Minnette, Brandon Flynn, Christian Navarro, and Private Practice star Kate Walsh.
Selena, who knows full well what it’s like to be bullied, serves as one of the executive producers on the series, and she was more than happy to keep her role strictly off camera, partly because she worried her fame would overshadow the serious nature of the project.
“Once I left my series (Wizards of Waverly Place) (and) started to go for roles that weren’t that age range, it (13 Reasons Why) organically began to become a project that I knew I would be behind the scenes with,” the now-24-year-old explained to the New York Times.
“I actually like that I’m not in it,” she continued. “To be honest, this book has such a huge following. I wanted it to be credible. If I’m a part of it, that’s going to cause a whole other conversation.”
Instead, the singer/actress wants to use 13 Reasons Why to display her production talents and help her move into the next phase of her career, because she accepts her youthful appearance is unlikely to land her the kind of acting jobs she is desperate to tackle just now.
“I could do any tomboy/teen princess movie in the world if I wanted to,” Selena said. “But I want to be a part of projects that have value and it’s really hard to do that. Sometimes I feel defeated. I’ll audition for a part that I feel very passionate about, meet with people, tell them I’m willing to go places. I think they think I won’t go there.”
She added, “To be honest, I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon for me. I think I look really young, and image-wise, it’s difficult for people to grasp. But early on, my mum taught me that sometimes you just have to create those projects for yourself. That’s what I want this to be: a launching pad.”
13 Reasons Why launches on Netflix on 31 March (17).