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Selena Gomez: ‘My Ultimate Dream is To Save People’s Lives’

The pop star tells us about working with BLACKPINK, what got her through quarantine, season two of ‘Selena + Chef’ and her dreams of being an artist who can help people who need it

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Riddhi Chakraborty Oct 03, 2020

"I am 100 percent hands-on in the creative process. Every single thing I'm even remotely singing about is something I've related to and something I'm hitting the nail on." Photo: Courtesy of the artist

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Selena Gomez has always wanted to be there for her fans. Whether it’s her music or all the personal challenges she’s had to overcome in the last five years, her focus has remained on wanting to be the kind of person who can provide comfort and positivity in times of strife. Perhaps even relatability, if someone has been through the same things she has. “My ultimate dream is that I am able to save people’s lives through something,” she tells Rolling Stone India. “Whether it’s a song, music, or if it’s me just speaking about the troubles and the trials and tribulations that I had gone through.”

After being diagnosed with the autoimmune disease lupus in 2015 while working on her second solo album, Revival, Gomez cut short her 2016 tour and remained largely out of the public eye for a few years. She explained that in addition to the kidney transplant she underwent in 2017, her illness had caused anxiety, depression and panic attacks that made it difficult to go back on tour and work on new music. We did see collaborations over the years with Kygo, Charlie Puth, and DJ Snake (“Taki Taki,” alongside Ozuna and Cardi B), as well as singles like “Bad Liar” (2017) and more, but it wouldn’t be until 2020 that we’d see her return to music full-force.

Gomez’s third studio album Rare in January 2020 was powerful, positive and the start of an era that gave her the chance to define herself as an artist and build the identity she always wanted. She also dove headfirst into new and exciting projects like working with South Korean pop group BLACKPINK on the flirty “Ice Cream,” planning and executing its release with her collaborators over long Zoom calls. It’s been a rewarding and uplifting 2020 so far, and there’s lots more to come.

Of course in addition to honing her skills as the musician in the last five years, Gomez took on several new mantles. She returned to acting with various roles in film and television but also debuted as a producer on 13 Reasons Why and the Netflix docuseries Living Undocumented. During quarantine in 2020, she further expanded on her skills as a producer and entertainer with Selena + Chef, an at-home cooking show that saw her collaborate with various award-winning chefs from across the world as they taught her how to cook their signature dishes over video call. In the last few months she’s also been using her massive social media platforms to fight online hate, misogyny and vitriol, asking Mark Zuckerberg to curb the spread of misinformation and hate on Facebook and Instagram in a private message which she later shared on her own Instagram account. She explains there so much she wants to show the world and her commitment to each project she works on is 100 percent. “I embrace who I am, and I’m not going to sit down in a chair and talk about something that doesn’t mean anything to me.”

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In this conversation with Rolling Stone India, the singer-songwriter, actor and producer opens up about working with BLACKPINK, what got her through quarantine, the upcoming season two of Selena + Chef and her dreams for the future.

Congratulations on your collaboration with BLACKPINK on “Ice Cream”! Why did you want to work with each other and can you share a little bit about the process of making this track?

It’s kind of mutual because we’re at the same label but under different umbrellas. I love BLACKPINK, and I’ve been obsessed with them. I was nervous because it is something that’s stepping out of my zone a little bit, but it was just the best time. I have so much respect for them; their work ethic and how much they put into what they do is pretty remarkable. So kind of seeing the crossover has been really interesting at the same time for both of us. Each of us got to go into that world together.

2020 has been such a powerful and productive year for you even in the face of the global crisis COVID-19 created. I think a lot of fans see you as a source of motivation to get through their own hard times. What is something that has kept you motivated to keep going this year?

It’s definitely the most time I’ve spent on my own probably since I was 16. At first it was super uncomfortable, more so because of the anxiety I was carrying because of everything that is happening. I also feel like I got the opportunity to learn a lot about my country in ways that I never have before. I feel like I’ve gained a sense of knowledge and a sense of feeling good about saying what I’m saying, and I feel good about what I’m standing by, and I’m not going to let other opinions conduct what I feel personally.

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I absolutely loved your series Selena + Chef. In addition to learning to cook dishes from around the world, what was a big takeaway from the experience that you’ll always treasure?

Selena + Chef wasn’t a way to move into reality television but a chance to inspire, encourage and get kids’ minds going. I realized I only knew how to cook like five things and needed to learn a lot more.

What can we expect from Season Two of Selena + Chef?

Learning from some of the best chefs in the world has vastly improved my cooking skills but I have a lot more to learn. I am looking forward to challenging myself in the kitchen on the next season.

You wear so many hats as a creator–singer-songwriter, actor and producer are some of the mantles you’ve taken on. How does your artistic process and perspective change while you’re creating something for each different stream of entertainment?

I am 100 percent hands-on in the creative process. Every single thing I’m even remotely singing about is something I’ve related to and something I’m hitting the nail on, and I pick what is going to represent the album or the series and who I am as a whole. I embrace who I am, and I’m not going to sit down in a chair and talk about something that doesn’t mean anything to me.

How do you imagine being remembered by future generations? 

My ultimate dream is that I am able to save people’s lives through something, whether it’s a song, music, or if it’s me just speaking about the troubles and the trials and tribulations that I had gone through. That would be my goal. I’d rather be remembered as someone who has helped… that I could be a voice for others who maybe don’t know what’s going on or what they’re feeling.

Finally, do you have any special message for your Indian fans?

Thank you all for all your love and the beautiful messages you keep sending me. These times are tough, but we shall all get through. Stay happy, stay hopeful, do what you love and stay safe.

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