EXCLUSIVE: Selena Gomez's Mother Opens Up About the Benefits of Her Daughter's Brief Break From the Spotlight
By Desiree Murphy
Selena Gomez's mother, Mandy Teefey, couldn't be happier.
On Thursday, the Dallas, Texas, native attended the Los Angeles premiere of 13 Reasons Why, the new Netflix series she and her daughter executive produced, and when ET's Katie Krause caught up with her on the red carpet, she had nothing but praise for her mini-me.
"She looks like the sun," she said of Gomez, who was dressed in a shimmery, bright orange strapless mini dress by Oscar de la Renta. "I was like, '[You're] a little sun.'"
When asked about the reason behind her 24-year-old daughter's permanent glow on the carpet, Teefey credited it to the brief break she took from the spotlight last year. The pop star steered clear of the public eye for nearly three months, making her official comeback at the 2016 American Music Awards, where she delivered a powerful, moving speech while accepting the award for Favorite Female Artist - Pop/Rock.
"I think it was actually [from] taking a break," she said. "You asked what it is [like] to feel like you're in this world, we're in a bubble. It's not a real world. You don't really realize it until you go out of this bubble and you're like, 'Oh, OK.'"
"And you know, with her, when she was becoming famous, I was like, 'Aren't you so shocked' and blah blah? It's not an arrogant thing, it's just your day to day, and that's what becomes your life," she continued. "Then when you go home, or [when I] go to my husband's home in the Midwest, you're like, 'This isn't really real.' That 'all of this about me' and, you know, this lifestyle isn't real."
Teefey also chatted with ET about the plot of 13 Reasons Why, a series she says she hopes both parents and their children can relate to for various reasons.
"There is a lot of really in-your-face but honest subjects, and what I'm hoping is that the parents recognize, this is what their kids go to school every day as, not want to turn away from it," she explained. "They're not going to want to see their kid in the bullies. They're not going to want to see their kid in [the victim] Hannah, and I'm hoping it's going to really talk to the kids when they see what's going on with Hannah -- next time they try to make that decision or choice, they remember what Hannah went through."
"And then the parents, they're like, 'I really gotta pay attention a little bit more,' realize what really is going on, because it's not pretty," she continued. "That was the amazing part of everybody who came on board, they weren't scared of the topic. There were times that my husband [Brian Teefy] would look at me and he would go, 'You're going to get so much trouble on this.' Good, because it's a conversation that needs to be discussed. Especially now."
She also said that, creatively, it was the first time she and Gomez really got to work together on a professional level.
"[Producing] was my background and her acting was her background, and we were just trying to prepare her for her transition," Teefey, 40, said. "There was no map of how to do it -- from Disney, for a girl who can transition from a young star to a major star. You go in and pitch that and they go, 'Disney kid? Suicide? We don't know that will work.' Or, 'That's [not what] kids want to talk about it.' I'm like, 'Kids want to talk about it.' They just underestimated their intelligence. So, I'm excited. I'm really happy it finally came to fruition, and with the amazing people that gave all their heart and passion to it. It's been great."
The series even hit home for Teefy, who told ET that as a teen mom, she, too, was bullied.
"I was a teen mom with Selena, obviously, and was very judged by that, even by my counselors and my teachers [who said] that I failed and just let go of it," she revealed. "My neighborhood was a really rough neighborhood [with] gangs. With all of that stuff, and when I got pregnant, I think that's what triggered, because I was like, 'OK, I have another person depending on me. I gotta get straight,' and that's when I started hammering through. I'm like, 'I'm not going to let her have the upbringing I did.' I kind of kept powering through -- you get used to it."
"Everybody's going to judge you, you can't look at that," she added. "But in high school, you actually face these people every day."
That's part of the reason why that even after years of watching her daughter in the spotlight, from her debut on Barney & Friends in 2002 to her performing at sold-out venues across the nation, Teefey still has moments where she has to take a step back and remember just how far the two have come as a family.
"It feels surreal that I'm on the carpet, [and] actually OK with it, because I do not like being on the carpet or having my pictures taken," she admitted. "I guess I felt in my heart this [project] was going to get made because I was not going to fail."
"It's a little bit of a whirlwind, this part of it," she continued. "I'm just really happy that it's finally here, and it can do its job of what we wanted it to do."