Selena Gomez’s journey from Disney star to pop star and serious actor wasn’t easy. The 29-year-old had to make certain sacrifices in order to reach her current career as a serious actor and pop star—including, at one point, posing nude. In a new roundtable discussion with the Hollywood Reporter, the 29-year-old vividly recalled being pressured to appear on the cover of her 2015 album Revival sans clothes. “I was really ashamed after I did it,” she told Tracee Ellis Ross, Bridget Everett, Molly Shannon, Quinta Brunson, and her Only Murders in the Building costar Amy Schumer. “I had to work through those feelings because I realized it was attached to something deeper that was going on. And it was a choice that I wasn’t necessarily happy that I made, but I think that I’ve done my best, at least I try to be myself.”
The choice to bow to the pressure was emblematic of how Gomez was pressured to do things that only fed into the “really unfair” experience of being sexualized at a young age. It was especially uncomfortable because she is “not an overly sexual person,” she explained. “Sometimes I like to feel sexy, but that doesn’t mean it’s for somebody else. It can be for me.” The cover made the public think differently, particular as releasing Revival was one of the first moves she made after freeing herself from Disney. Her hope was that the photo would instead be interpreted as an homage to the cover of Christina Aguilera’s 2002 album Stripped, which was a big influence on Revival.
Fortunately, Gomez has reached a point in her career in which she’s free to make her own decisions. That’s truer than ever since she begun starring in and producing Only Murders in the Building, the Hulu show that finds Gomez, Steve Martin and Martin Short as an unlikely trio of aspiring detectives. Gomez’s character, Mabel, is easily a handful of decades younger than her crime podcast cohosts, which is part of why there’s barely anything sexual about the show. “One of my friends who didn’t watch my show, and I don’t care if they do, was like, “So, do you have any hot co-stars?” and I’m like, “In a way…,” Gomez recalled with a laugh.