Behind The Scenes with Selena Gomez in “My Mind & Me”

Laura Liu, Editor in Chief

Singer, actress, and film producer Selena Gomez rose to fame with her breakout role as Alex Russo on the Disney Channel series, “Wizards of Waverly Place.” A pivotal moment in her career, her flawless execution of the clever and spunky character garnered her numerous awards and widespread attention, making her one of the most iconic Disney actresses. Gomez’s new documentary directed by Alek Keshishian and released Nov. 2, “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me,” centers on her life since, and her struggles and regrets under the spotlight.

Behind the Billboard awards and Grammy nominations, Gomez’s artistic career reveals to be more complicated than expected in “My Mind & Me.” In a flashback to her 2016 “Revival” tour, she’s seen anxiously practicing her setlist onstage and trying on outfits, curating the look of the tour. “Revival” was her first album with Interscope Records after leaving Disney’s Hollywood Records — both a literal and symbolic break from her Disney days. Though singing an album about love and empowerment, Gomez deals with insecurities over her music sounding too young to the point of tears after her final tour rehearsal.

“I don’t want to disappoint John [Janick, chairman of Interscope Records]. I don’t want him to think he signed some Disney kid,” Gomez said. “I want nothing more than to not be my past [but] it comes back.”

 “My Mind & Me” also details Gomez’s journey with mental health. As the pressure during the tour reached a tipping point, the “Revival” tour came to a halt due to Gomez’s anxiety and depression. The film’s focus shifts from Gomez’s voiceover to her friends’ and family’s accounts as they witnessed her struggles with suicidal thoughts and hallucinations before she eventually fell into a psychotic break and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Fast-forward to 2019, the narration recenters on Gomez as she reflects on her experiences then. The documentary unearths a lesser-heard side to mental illness, with Gomez speaking about how it affected the way she treated others and the guilt she holds onto from hurting them. But even more than her hardships, “My Mind & Me” is about her facing her challenges head-on.

“I have struggled with my own thoughts and feelings sometimes, but this doesn’t make me faulty. This does not make me less than [others]. This makes me human,” Gomez said during a speech at the McLean Psychiatric Hospital annual dinner.

From her own experiences with mental health, Gomez decided to use her influence to help others by starting wellness campaigns and projects. However, her plans were quickly cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of that, she began experiencing flare-ups from lupus, an autoimmune disease she was diagnosed with in 2014. 

In a raw depiction of living with chronic illness, the documentary delves into the physical and emotional toil brought upon by lupus during the pandemic. Comparing her current flare-ups to being as excruciating as they were when she first discovered she had lupus, Gomez described crying after waking up because of the intense pain and dealing with depression.

However, lupus does not get the final say in Gomez’s life — as she heals, she reconnects with her hobbies, passions, and other people, revitalizing her goal to change others’ lives for the better. As difficult as her path with health has been, it has equally propelled her to take action and make a difference in the world. “My Mind & Me” doesn’t end with a definitive answer to who she is, but rather a testament to her strengths, imperfections, and determination to do more.