EXCLUSIVE: Ariana Grande Gushes Over Selena Gomez's First Public Appearance Since Taking Time Off: 'She Looks
By Desiree Murphy
Ariana Grande was beyond ecstatic to see Selena Gomez make her triumphant return to the public eye at the American Music Awards on Sunday.
While chatting with ET on the red carpet, the 23-year-old singer couldn't help but gush over Gomez's presence, which marked her first high-profile appearance since announcing she was "taking some time off" to deal with anxiety and depression caused by lupus in August.
"I just saw [Selena] come in and I hugged her so tight," Grande, who was dressed in a sexy lacy bralette and high-waisted white pants, told ET's Cameron Mathison. "She looks like a princess."
Princess, indeed! Gomez absolutely slayed the red carpet, donning a gorgeous red Prada gown, chandelier earrings and diamond ring by Cartier.
"I literally almost cried when I saw her," Grande continued. "I haven't talked to her in a long time. So, I don't know what's going on, but I gave her a huge hug and she looks beautiful. And I'm so happy that she's here. I'm happy to see her out and about."
Grande, who is nominated for the coveted Artist of the Year award and is taking the stage to perform her hit, "Side to Side," with Nicki Minaj, also couldn't contain her excitement over her "very big night."
"I'm very excited. I'm so excited to be performing with Nicki. I love that woman so much," she said. It's going be a great night!"
"I love her," she continued. "We've had a great relationship. She's been a friend to me for a very long time now. And I love her. She's great."
Grande told ET that even if she doesn't end up snagging the fan-voted Artist of the Year award (she's up against Gomez, Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Carrie Underwood), she plans to thank her fans anyway.
"You know, it would be amazing obviously, of course, but I don't want my fans to think that like that is what I need from them," she explained. "To know how much -- to feel their love -- I feel their love every day. So no matter what, I'm grateful."
"I'm just grateful to have so many kids who really let me feel like I can be myself," she continued. "They're full of so much love."
While Grande was clearly incredibly stoked to be chosen as a performer for the AMAs, she has an even more exciting gig coming up, as she's portraying Penny Pingleton in NBC's live adaptation of Hairspray, which will air Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. ET.
"Oh my god, I'm so happy," she gushed. "It's the most fun I've ever had in my whole life. This has been one of my favorite shows since it opened on Broadway."
"I'm having the time of my life," she added. 'The cast is so incredible. I am going to be a mess on December 8th when it is over. I don't want to even -- I don't know! It's going to be so emotional."
Grande told ET that it was "so weird" to rehearse for the AMAs, after channeling Penny in rehearsals for the past few weeks.
"Penny is so quirky and nerdy and not comfortable, you know, in her own body, really," she dished. "And then to have to do 'Side to Side,' which is such a sexy number, I was like -- it was such a weird mode shift all week."
"I've been having these crazy long days, and going from Penny to 'Side to Side' has been the funniest thing mentally ever," she continued. "So I feel like in order to make it work, I have to pretend like this is like Penny's fantasy. Like in her head, like she falls asleep and she's dreaming."