Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me – Battling Fame, Mental Illness, and Lupus

Fame! I’m gonna live forever – baby, remember my name.

Irene Cara, who starred in the 1980 musical film, Fame, and recorded the title song, died this past week at age 65. The film dramatized the lives of students attending New York’s High School of Performing Arts (now known as Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School), as they aspire to careers in the arts. Even in the 80s, fame had a dark side, but with social media, becoming a celebrity can chew up even the most resilient star. 

There’s no doubt that Selena Gomez is famous and based on what we see in the Apple TV +’s documentary, Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me, she’s resilient. The 90-minute film, directed by Alex Keshishian, is an intimate and searing look inside the life of Gomez, who began acting when she was only nine years old on the children’s television series Barney & Friends. As a teenager, she starred in the Wizards of Waverly Place on the Disney Channel. Many films followed, aimed at a younger audience. 

A talented vocalist, Gomez began recording albums, many of them climbing up the Billboard charts. While she was the first to reach 100 million followers on Instagram, she has taken several breaks from social media, unable to deal with negative comments. Her on-again, off-again, relationship with Justin Bieber, which lasted from 2010 to 2018, was fodder for followers and the media, questions being shouted at her wherever she appeared. 

In 2016, Gomez is in the middle of a tour to promote her album, Revival. Although the final rehearsal goes well, Gomez is plagued by self doubt. She worries that her costumes make her look like a young girl or boy. She sits mummy like while make-up people powder her cheeks and apply lipstick. It’s only when she’s onstage before the huge screaming crowds that she comes alive. But those moments are short lived. After 54 performances, she cancels the remainder of the tour to deal with her anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.

Los Angeles, CA – November 2: Selena Gomez attends the AFI Fest World Premiere of Apple Original Films’ “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me” at TCL Chinese Theatre.

Gomez was dealt a bad hand health wise. She suffers from lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes, among other symptoms, swollen painful joints. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and, at one point, suffered a psychotic break, hearing voices. Anyone would have a tough time coping with these health challenges, but for someone in the celebrity spotlight, the pressure becomes, at times, unbearable. 

Selena’s mental health breaks take her back to Grand Prairie, Texas, where she was born. She’s accompanied by a childhood friend as they visit her old middle school – where of course she’s embraced by the young people who are her fans – as well as the home where she grew up. Here she meets an elderly woman who is overweight and battling health issues. Selena is kind and empathetic, connecting with the woman’s pain and offering encouragement.

Despite incredible odds, Selena is not slowing down. She continues to record and perform. Alongside Steve Martin and Martin Short she stars in Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building, filming the third season in January 2023. She’s a popular influencer and is featured in many TV commercials and endorsement. 

Charity and philanthropy work continue to be at the top of her list. What comes through in the documentary is that she wants to use her platform to shine a focus on causes that are important to her. Fame, in the right hands, can not only be survived, but can be employed to advance the public good.

That’s the message that comes through loud and clear in Selena’s documentary. If she inspires others to follow suit, whether those individuals are famous or not, then baring all in this emotional film will be well worth the effort.

Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me is now streaming on Apple TV+.

Photos courtesy of Apple TV+

About Charlene Giannetti (676 Articles)
Charlene Giannetti, editor of Woman Around Town, is the recipient of seven awards from the New York Press Club for articles that have appeared on the website. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Charlene began her career working for a newspaper in Pennsylvania, then wrote for several publications in Washington covering environment and energy policy. In New York, she was an editor at Business Week magazine and her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines. She is the author of 13 non-fiction books, eight for parents of young adolescents written with Margaret Sagarese, including "The Roller-Coaster Years," "Cliques," and "Boy Crazy." She and Margaret have been keynote speakers at many events and have appeared on the Today Show, CBS Morning, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many others. Her last book, "The Plantations of Virginia," written with Jai Williams, was published by Globe Pequot Press in February, 2017. Her podcast, WAT-CAST, interviewing men and women making news, is available on Soundcloud and on iTunes. She is one of the producers for the film "Life After You," focusing on the opioid/heroin crisis that had its premiere at WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, where it won two awards. The film is now available to view on Amazon Prime, YouTube, and other services. Charlene and her husband live in Manhattan.