I never really knew that much about multi-talented actress and entertainer, Selena Gomez. When my daughters were younger, I knew her as the cute and quirky co-star of Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana and then, the lead of Wizards of Waverly Place.
Then as Gomez grew into adulthood, she joined the long line of young women that the Disney Channel factory pumped out like Detroit builds cars.
But I never gave her much thought.
In a short period of time, Selena joined other female entertainers who came to be known by one name – Britney, Christina, Lindsay, Ashley, Vanessa and so many more becoming an uber-popular singer garnering Grammy and Emmy nominations. But even more so, a celebrity. Along with the bright lights and screaming hordes of fans that come with reaching the stratosphere, also comes immense pressure, especially for a teen girl growing up publicly.
We have seen many of those previously mentioned celebrities crumple under the intense scrutiny and demands of being famous. But none have given us a real and emotionally naked peek as to what this life is really like until you have watched Gomez’s insightful and powerful documentary, Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me.
Helmed by Alek Keshishian, who made his groundbreaking directorial debut with the seminal documentary Madonna: Truth or Dare 30 years ago, the film chronicles the lovable Emmy and Grammy nominee’s journey from the heights of unimaginable superstardom through the lows of a very personal crisis and back again.
The film begins during a 2016 wardrobe fitting for then 24-year-old Gomez, who displays a raw vulnerability that is undeniable. For her, there is already rampant anxiety that comes with going on tour, much of it self-inflicted. Selena complains about every outfit showcasing her vagina. Then she pivots into worrying that her body isn’t good enough for these outfits. She wants bigger boobs. A “J-Lo” butt. She laments that her body resembles a 12-year-old boy.
“I want nothing more than to not be my past,” she says.
Selena’s worries reflect what so many teen girls think about themselves as they grow older when internally forced to compare themselves to society’s standards. God, knows I watched my two daughters deal with these and more. But when you are a superstar like Gomez, everything is amplified, which eventually reduces her to tears brought on by anxiety and fears.
To cheer her up, managers give Selena a bag of charms, one for each day of the tour. It’s a sweet moment in a series of increasingly dark moments.
Plagued by insecurity and self-doubt, Gomez allows the cameras to showcase her journey as we follow her preparing for her global concert tour in support of her 2015 album Revival. When we jump to 2019 and 2020, we watch and empathize with Selena as she battles the autoimmune disease Lupus and an undiagnosed bipolar disorder.
Selena credits her two close friends and family for talking her off the ledge and keeping her from sinking into depression. We cheer for Selena when she embarks on a personal journey to learn more about her condition and raise awareness of mental health issues globally.
Not everything in the documentary is so dark though. A highlight of the film is traveling with Gomez back to her Texas roots. Selena visits her cousin and former neighbors on the street she grew up on. “After I got out of the last treatment center, I knew what made me happy was a connection,” she says in the film.
Gomez later travels to Kenya to visit a women’s school she funded through the WE Charity. While she admits she came from simple roots as well, the entertainer also realizes she is on a different plane than these young women.
Times become challenging again for Selena later in the film. A European press junket triggers traumatic memories of her past. “I’m having fun,” she says. But it’s clear that she is not. Gomez is then thrown, like many of us, into the 2020 pandemic shutdown with her lupus flaring.
To her credit, Gomez survives and comes out an even stronger woman.
The film ends with Selena having a renewed sense of purpose. “I am a work in progress. I am enough. I am Selena.”
Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me is a profoundly powerful and personal film, making its point that Gomez is a global force in art and entertainment. But still approachable and relatable.
Keshishian‘s beautifully crafted film is a celebration of overcoming life’s hurdles and pressures and coming out more optimistic and hopeful.
This movie confirms how rare a celebrity we have with the talented Gomez. She is infinitely talented and wise for her young years, but there is still an innocence and a longing to change people’s lives. As she says in the film, “Just be who you are, Selena.”
I may not have known much about Gomez before, but after watching her hold her own and then some in Only Murders in the Building and now this documentary, I’m thankful I know more about her.
Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me premiered at this year’s AFI FEST 2022 and is now available to stream on Apple TV+.
Bottom Line: Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me is a REEL SEE. Bravo to Gomez for allowing us into her life.