Selena Gomez’s new documentary, My Mind & Me, which comes out tomorrow on Apple TV+, promises a closer look at the inner life of one of the biggest stars of the past decade. Gomez hasn’t been shy about her struggles with mental and physical health issues over the years—in 2014, she was diagnosed with lupus, and in 2020, she publicly revealed that she has bipolar disorder—and she digs even deeper into these topics in the film. But as a new Rolling Stone profile reveals, the upcoming release has been a great point of anxiety for Gomez—so much so that she almost refused to sign off on it.
“I’m just so nervous. Because I have the platform I have, it’s kind of like I’m sacrificing myself a little bit for a greater purpose,” Gomez said. “I don’t want that to sound dramatic, but I almost wasn’t going to put this out. God’s honest truth, a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure I could do it.”
Directed by acclaimed film director Alek Keshishian—the same person who brought the 1991 documentary Madonna: Truth or Dare to life—the project was originally intended to follow Gomez on her Revival tour in 2016. But increasing mental health struggles led Gomez to cancel the remainder of the tour in August of the same year, and Keshishian shelved the documentary. In 2018, Gomez’s worsening bipolar disorder caused an episode of psychosis that put her in a treatment facility.
The documentary resumed filming in 2019 when Gomez went on a trip to Kenya to visit schools with the WE Foundation, and the cameras kept rolling after that. During the pandemic, Keshishian documented Gomez’s lupus remission, mental health struggles, and more, to the point where he questioned if he should be filming her in certain moments. “I was in her home, and she [would be] in tears,” he said. “I’m holding my iPhone, and I’m like, ‘I don’t know whether I should shoot this.’” Back then, Gomez brushed off his doubts, simply saying, “No, I want you to shoot this. I want you to shoot this.”
In that second round of filming, Keshishian realized that the project was “a deeper documentary [...] about a young woman struggling to incorporate her diagnosis—she was fresh out of the mental facility—and trying to reconcile the fact that she’s still a patient, she’s still in the earliest stages of her recovery, but she desperately wants to use her platform for good and to talk about it.”
“There’s some tension there because obviously she’s trying to be an example for others, but she’s still not on the other side of it, so to speak,” he explained.
Despite her enthusiasm back then, in hindsight, Gomez seems to be worried that she’s revealed too much. “I know it has a big message, but am I the right person to bring it to light? I don’t know,” she said. “I wanted someone to say, ‘Selena, this is too intense.’ But everyone was like, ‘I’m really moved, but are you ready to do this? And are you comfortable?’”
Gomez’s inner conflict reflects a fear that many women have: that of being “too intense.” As a child actor who also spent her teen years on Disney, she’s had her public image managed to make her agreeable and cheerful—the “girl next door.” It’s perhaps the fact that she has these raw, unglamorous stories to tell that she “never fit in with a cool group of girls that were celebrities.” Gomez admits that her only close friend in the industry is Taylor Swift, whose displays of similarly intense emotions have always been under public scrutiny.
But Gomez seems to understand that this is a barrier holding many women back, saying:
I remind myself that I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the psychotic break, if it wasn’t for my lupus, if it wasn’t for my diagnosis. I think I would just probably be another annoying entity that just wants to wear nice clothes all the time. I’m depressed thinking about who I would be.
While she didn’t attend the original Apple TV+ screening for the documentary, Gomez was moved by the impact it had on the audience, convincing her that it was all worth it. “If I can just do that for one person, imagine what it could do,” she said.
Well, we can’t wait to see.