Friday, July 16, 2010

Selena Gomez: "I think I'm fully aware of my audience"

Selena Gomez may be leaving Waverley Place, but she’s holding on to the magic for a little while longer.

With her 18th birthday coming up next week and her new film, Ramona and Beezus opening a day later on July 23, the Disney star says she doesn’t feel pressure to take on more adult roles. “No, not at all. I’m 18 years old and I play a 15 year old in this film, so I don’t feel pressure at all,” she said in an interview from Miami yesterday. “I think I’m fully aware of my audience and I’m still just a kid myself. I wouldn’t do a role I don’t feel comfortable doing or that my audience wouldn’t feel comfortable seeing.”

It's a stark contrast to her Disney colleague Miley Cyrus, who has been trying to break out of her Hannah Montana role by appealing to an older audience, starting with a risque Vanity Fair cover in 2007 and stirring up controversy more recently with a hyper-sexualized pop-star image that has left some parents (and many of her former fans) shaking their heads.

With celebrity comes privacy issues, but Gomez copes by keeping her family close and knowing her circle well. "Making yourself available to the right people" can help you maintain a level of privacy, Gomez says. "I love my fans, love the people I work with, and I want to be available. But at the same time, with personal issue and things that I’m going through, I try my best to keep that to myself."

Gomez's second CD, "A Year Without Rain," debuts this fall, and while Gomez told MTV earlier this week that she's leaving her TV show, The Wizards of Waverly Place after this season, she says she's not trading her acting career for pop stardom.

“I have a genuine passion for both," she says. "I don't just slap my name on something because it's what I think I should do." She performed with her band, The Scene, this week on America's Got Talent and is set to get to work on a movie version of The Wizards of Waverly Place; she recently finished shooting another movie, Monte Carlo, due out next year.

Though she's not adverse to taking risks and putting herself out there ("I think my job is pretty daring," she says), Gomez says she's inspired by the kids she meets as an ambassador for UNICEF, especially those with special needs or who are on the Autism Spectrum. "I think that, for me, it’s an extremely empowering experience to meet kids with challenges they face. I admire how they don’t let that stop them," she says. "I really aspire to be like them. If anything, people like that are just definitely inspiring."

In Ramona and Beezus, the Quimby family faces financial issues, something that many kids (and their parents) can relate to today. While the movie encourages kids to embrace their creativity and individuality, as Ramona does, the bigger lesson for kids dealing with adversity, Gomez says, is that “Everything happens for a reason, and within each problem there’s a lesson you can learn." Don't be afraid that people will laugh or make fun of you, follow your passion, and keep your family close. "At the end of the day, family is all you’ve got," she says.

(I talk to Gomez and her Ramona and Beezus co-star Joey King over at's In the Parenthood column today... click here to check it out!)

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