The 13 Reasons Why cast has pretty much dashed all of our hopes by now that Selena Gomez will ever make so much as a cameo, but that doesn't mean the star isn't still hard at work on her show. Working as an executive producer, Sel is passionate about the Netflix original based on one of her favorite books — but, uh, what exactly does she do? The role of executive producer can mean a whole different range of involvement, whether it's just monetary support or active hands-on helping with a project. While we know Selena will never play a role in 13RW, she does still have a role in the show. Want to know what it is? We've got all the details.
Selena Gomez first secured the rights to the book back in 2009.
Yep, after reading the book the year before, Sel knew she needed to do something more with it. So she and her mom set up a meeting with Jay Asher, the author of the Thirteen Reasons Why novel. According to Asher's blog, they all met up for sushi, and Asher knew pretty instantly he was on board to work with Selena. But what they originally planned wasn't what happened.
Back then, Selena was actually interested in starring in a 13RW adaptation, and she wanted to produce the movie as well. "[Watching Selena in Princess Protection Program], most of the movie was light and funny," Asher wrote. "[But] there were absolute hints of Hannah Baker poking through – subtle expressions that reminded me of specific scenes in the book. It gave me the chills! Visually, for the first time, I could see pretty and optimistic Hannah slowly losing hope."
Others had tried to option the book for a movie before, but it was only once he met with Selena that Asher started to actually consider it. "It’s always an eerie and extremely cool experience to talk to fans of Thirteen Reasons Why and realize that they understand everything I was trying to say," he explained. "Selena is one of those fans."
But Selena didn't end up in that starring role.
Over the years, the project shifted from a movie to something bigger until it finally landed at Netflix as an original series. And as Sel moved on from her roles on shows like Wizard of Waverly Place, she knew she wasn't about to go back to playing a teenager again. Instead, she wanted to take on a role behind the camera. "The older I got... it organically began to become a project that I knew I would be behind the scenes with," she told The New York Times. "I actually like that I’m not in it. To be honest, this book has such a huge following. I wanted it to be credible. If I’m a part of it, that’s going to cause a whole other conversation."
Sel didn't want it to just be the Selena Gomez show — so she decided to take herself out of the equation in that way. And setting the story as a TV show gave the plot, and all the characters involved, more room to breathe. "One of the reasons it didn’t work as a feature was that there wasn’t enough time to tell the stories of the other characters and why they were making the decisions they were making," explained Selena's mom, Mandy Teefey.
What did Selena do behind the scenes?
Honestly, on the first season, not that much. Her main job up until that point had been to get all the pieces together — the film rights, the right medium, the right writer on board. But from there, Selena had to focus primarily on her main job — touring and performing her music. But that doesn't mean she wasn't working. She and her mom, also an executive producer, stayed in touch with the cast and crew via email. And on the last day of shooting, Selena flew in to be with everybody on set.
"[Selena]'s incredibly busy," series star Katherine Langford told PopSugar. "She stayed with us the whole [last] day on set and talked to everyone. She took us out to dinner and saw a movie with us, and we hung out with her. I don't think I can emphasize how generous she is and how genuinely she cares. Time is something that you can't put a price on, and she just gives infinite time to everyone around her."
But even just in that one day, Sel formed a lasting bond with some of the actors on set. She even joined Alisha Boe (Jessica) and Tommy Dorfman (Ryan) in getting semi-colon tattoos on their wrists. How cute is that?
Sel did contribute music to the show's soundtrack.
Though you didn't see her on screen, you did hear her. The first season's soundtrack features two tracks from Selena: an acoustic version of her song "Kill Em With Kindness" and her cover of "Only You."
How will Selena be involved in 13 Reasons Why's second season?
She still won't be making that cameo we've got our fingers crossed for, but she is staying on and working with the team in her role as executive producer. "It’s a very difficult and complicated story to tell," Selena told 97.1 AMP Radio. "I think for season two, a lot of those questions get answers. There’s going to be a lot of resolution. There’s going to be a lot of repercussions."
And it's a project that she's proud to be working on. "I think it was a really intense thing that we did, but I’m proud of it and I think season two will be even better," she shared. And hopefully, we'll continue to hear Sel's music weaved throughout the story.