Selena Gomez  comes across as an incredibly sorted out, squeaky clean twenty-something. The former Disney darling, 21, who went on to become a successful pop princess, is so gracious and grounded during her Dubai visit, you feeel it might be worth a bet that she won’t join Disney’s good girl-gone-bad brigade.
After all, history has taught us that Disney discoveries don’t handle adulthood too well. Just look up Miley Cyrus’s infamous VMA twerking episode, Amanda Byne’s twitter meltdown, Zac Efron’s cocaine addiction or Britney Spears’ head shaving episode to get a picture of fairytales gone awry. But this Texas native filled me with hope. After an orchestrated press conference that allowed no discussion on ex-boyfriend Justin Bieber or Michael Jackson on Thursday at Dubai’s Zabeel Saray, tabloid! sat down to chat with Gomez ahead of her Dubai Music Week gig on Friday night.
The Come & Get It singer was as polished as a newly-crowned beauty pageant winner. So what keeps her grounded?
“It’s obviously about how I have been raised. I have had such a strong family. When I was younger, my mother had been there to rein me in. It was exactly how I was raised,” said Gomez. Treating people with respect was one of the ground rules of the Gomez household. But she lets go of some of that primness when she performs for her fans at a concert. Like all rising divas, bonding with their legion of fans is top priority.
“It is hard to keep a politically-correct life. I have always been taught to treat people with respect. But when I am on stage, it’s a moment and it’s a time to be just who I want. [I] am with people who have a connection with me and who love my music.”
Like other Disney stars, Gomez was plucked from obscurity at a young age. She appeared in Barney & Friends in 2001 but it was her role of Alex Russo in the magical series Wizards Of Waverly Place that made her a permanent TV fixture. A day after she turned 21, she released her first solo album, Stars Dance, which has now sold more than 2 million copies worldwide. But such glowing tributes makes her blush.
“You make me sound way cooler than I am,” said Gomez with a laugh.
“I am so thankful to be here. To go to places and experience or meet different people, it has been very good for me. I genuinely appreciate the path that I have taken. I understand that I am still a kid and trying to figure out where my place is ... It’s a part of growing up.” Exhibiting maturity far beyond her age, she believes in taking accolades and acidic criticism in her stride. While her music album evoked positive reviews, she’s currently swatting vicious reviews of her latest movie, Getaway, starring Ethan Hawke.
Ask her if it bogs her down to read nasty comments about her acting project, she claims that she hasn’t been following reviews religiously.
“My cousin was the first person who told me what people were saying. I am 21 and I am not as experienced. I am learning and I am growing. Sometimes you do things that are great and sometimes you don’t. It’s called life,” said Gomez. Her pragmatic attitude extends to her philosophy towards work. Her advice to all those who are trying to become a sensation like her? “You just got to stay in your own lane. Appreciate all those around you and be passionate. That’s all you can do.”
Meeting American composer Quincy Jones : “I got to see him last night and we started talking about my path and what I have been doing. He was giving me insight and said ‘I am glad that you have taken this path and not done other things.’ He said I was doing well. It’s so good to hear from someone who has done such extraordinary things. He’s a legend.”
The Indian influences in Come & Get It: “I remember saying to Stargate, my producers, that I have never heard anything like that before. But they told me they travelled all around the world with different sounds. I have never performed in a song like that and it was great.”
The most glorious achievement in her career: “That’s hard to say. When my show Wizards Of Waverly won its first Emmy, I was beside myself. I was so proud of the writers and people who stood by it. Even though it was a kids show, we wanted some credibility. Then we won two more after that.”
Her MTV EMAs nomination (the awards will be held in Amsterdam in November): “So sweet. It’s so cool. I watched all these awards growing up and I have gone to them for a couple of years. But now to be on the other side and to watch some of my favourite artists that I have loved and admired. It feels great to be in such a position.”