Selena Gomez Tells Elle How She’s Taking Control Of Her Life

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Via Elle:

Selena Gomez has come into her own in more ways than one since making her major fashion magazine cover debut on ELLE in 2012. Now she’s back, on the cover of our October issue, and determined to tell her story, her way, with a gutsy new album, Revival, and the most powerful weapon of any social media-era star: Authenticity.

Mickey Rapkin met up with Gomez for a hike in Malibu to do the interview, and one thing is clear—this is a young woman who is taking control of her story, and her life. And if you’ve seen Gomez’s post on Instagram teasing the issue you already know the interview is going to be good: “@selenagomez: Here’s the first look of my new @elleusa cover!! One of my absolute favorite interviews. Elle you always do me justice. Love you!”

Here are some tidbits gleaned from Gomez’s interview, or, the five step guide to taking control and being your own person—Gomez style:

1. CALL YOUR OWN SHOTS
Gomez has made a series of calculated moves in the past year to peel off those labels once and for all: She split from her longtime manager—who also happens to be her mom. Said good-bye to Dream Out Loud, the eco-friendly clothing line she designed for Kmart that reportedly netted her $1 million annually. Parted ways—after three gold albums and a greatest-hits collection that included her first smash hit, “Love You Like a Love Song,” and the 2013 top 10 number “Come & Get It”—with her old record label and inked a new deal with Interscope. “I wanted to be a little uncomfortable,” says Gomez, now 23. “That’s why I made all of these decisions within a year. I wanted to be my own person. I wanted to test myself. I wanted to see if I could really do it.”

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2. GET SUPPORT FROM YOUR #SQUAD
Observing Gomez “take ownership of her life and her creative decisions in a new way has been a really beautiful thing to watch,” says Taylor Swift, who famously cast her old friend against type as an ass-kicking villain (alongside the rest of Swift’s It Nation) in this year’s “Bad Blood” video. “It isn’t easy for her to put herself out there, knowing that a lot of the media will try and twist her lyrics into a headline about her ex-boyfriend. She doesn’t care anymore. Now she knows that good music rises above and outlasts the weekly cycle of ridiculous headlines. We talk about this all the time. What ultimately matters is helping someone you’ve never met go through a hard time because you articulated how they feel in your music.”

3. TAKE ON A ROLE THAT NO ONE EXPECTS YOU TO PLAY
The film that stands the best chance of rewriting the role Selena Gomez plays in Hollywood is 2016’s In Dubious Battle, an adaptation of the 1936 John Steinbeck novel about a California labor strike, directed by and starring James Franco (last seen on-screen opposite Gomez as a be-cornrowed, gun-toting lunatic in Spring Breakers). Gomez talks with cinephilic glee about Franco’s unorthodox methods, his thrilling 40-minute takes, and the challenges of giving birth on celluloid for the first time. She also giggles about making out with her director in a scene that required seven-plus takes.“ I joked with everyone, ‘We’re doing it again, huh? He’s the director!’” she says, laughing. “He’s a good kisser.”

4. DON’T BE AFRAID TO SHOW YOUR VULNERABILITY
This past November, Gomez says, she had a personal epiphany backstage at the American Music Awards. “Everybody was talking about the same thing: my relationship,” she says, and there she was, about to go onstage to perform “The Heart Wants What It Wants”—the very song that had reignited all the chatter—live for the first time. “I was so exhausted. I said, I want this [performance] to be the last time I have to talk about this. And acknowledge this feeling.” She cleared the dressing room and grabbed a rare moment to herself. “I was kind of devastated. I was like, This is all I have right now. This is gonna be it. And all I want is to move on.” She went onstage and delivered a nakedly emotional performance, welling up in front of 11.6 million viewers and setting Twitter afire all over again. Suddenly there was an argument to be made that Selena Gomez, the singer, needed to be taken seriously. “It was a huge weight lifted off me,” she says. “That’s why, from this point on, I know I can prove myself, you know. I haven’t scratched the surface yet.”

5. WHEN IT COMES TO PAST RELATIONSHIPS, LEAVE THE DOOR OPEN
Her new album’s most-talked-about track will undoubtedly be “Same Old Love,” in which she announces defiantly: “You left in peace, left me in pieces/My body’s had enough/I’m so sick of that same old love.” While she protests that the song “is not necessarily about a specific relationship,” she says, “sometimes you’re stuck in the same cycle. This is kind of my ‘forget it’ song. I’m sick of all of it.” A recent Snapchat video showed Gomez and Bieber happily sharing dinner with friends. And friends is what they are now, she says, “genuinely”—drawing out the word to make sure it sinks in. “I’ll forever support him and love him in a way that…. We grew up together. I think people want it to be different.” Different how, I ask—more drama? She nods. “We’re too young for that. Nobody was married. There was no…. I respect him. And I think he respects me, in a healthy manner.” Gomez is also, yes, dating again. She confirms she had (past tense) a “thing” with Zedd, a 26-year-old, doe-eyed Russian DJ, but adds: “Finding somebody is not my main focus. I’ve dated people. I’ve been on a few dates, which is really exciting. But I’ve never wanted to get into anything serious, because I kind of did that. I have my guard up. I like to meet people in organic settings. Hanging out with a group of people and meeting through mutual people.” Would she and Bieber ever get back together? She laughs and practically shouts: “I don’t know!”

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