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Actor Selena Gomez is known for her work on stage and screen, but has also made a name for herself as a producer. A project she worked on, teen drama 13 Reasons Why, earned a lot of media scrutiny for broaching taboo subjects. Discover why Gomez still believes making the controversial TV series was worthwhile.

Selena Gomez has gone from actor to producer

Selena Gomez arrives at the premiere of Netflix's '13 Reasons Why' on March 30, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
Selena Gomez arrives at the premiere of Netflix’s ’13 Reasons Why’ on March 30, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Gomez got her start on the Disney Channel, starring in the beloved sitcom Wizards of Waverly Place. When the series came to an end in 2012, she sought to branch out, embarking on a solo music career while taking on roles in movies such as Monte Carlo and Spring Breakers.

In the years since, Gomez has continued down both of these paths. But she’s also taken on the behind-the-scenes role of executive producer on a handful of projects, from the Netflix docuseries Living Undocumented to her HBO Max cooking show Selena + Chef.

She executive produced ’13 Reasons Why’

The first project Gomez spearheaded was 13 Reasons Why, which ended up as a scripted series at Netflix. “My mom found this book in 2009 and worked her a** off to make it with me, guide me and tell this story authentically,” she wrote on Instagram of the novel upon which the show is based.

It took several years, but what was initially planned to be a film starring Gomez turned into the series fans know today, starring Katherine Langford, Dylan Minnette, and many more. While she doesn’t act in it, Gomez wrote a song, “Back to You,” that served as promotion for the second season.

The show has been deemed controversial 

13 Reasons Why aired for four seasons on Netflix. From the get-go, the subject matter drew criticism, as it focuses on the aftermath of a teenage girl who died by suicide. The end of the first season included the scene in which Langford’s Hannah cuts her wrists in the bathtub, which was later edited to show less of the graphic image.

Regardless of this change (which didn’t occur until after season 2’s release), many still took issue with the show’s content. There are a handful of scenes in which rape or sexual assault is depicted, and some believe that 13 Reasons Why became too melodramatic and was guilty of romanticizing sensitive subjects.

Why Gomez doesn’t regret her involvement

The series came to an end with its fourth season, released in June 2020. There was not a lot of promotion or fanfare that went into the end of the show, and, by the time it aired, Gomez has moved on with projects like This Is the Year and her upcoming comedy series Only Murders in the Building.

But despite everything, from the years of work to the controversy, Gomez takes a positive stance on 13 Reasons Why. “Whether uncomfortable or not, viewed as inappropriate or not, it has created conversation,” she told Allure in her September 2020 cover story. “And I feel like it was important for me to do.”