Selena Gomez on Working With Blackpink, Life in Quarantine and Why She’s Getting Political (Watch)

Selena Gomez and Blackpink know how to end the summer on a sweet note — by releasing their new single, “Ice Cream,” just before Labor Day. The music video for the infectious candy-coated tune, which will appear on the K-pop group’s upcoming full-length album, was viewed close to 100 million times within 24 hours of its Aug. 28 release on YouTube.

“It’s definitely a joyful thing. Being a part of it brought me joy,” Gomez, 28, says on Thursday’s episode of the Variety and iHeart podcast “The Big Ticket.” “It’s hopefully what everybody else will get from it too. I just want people to feel good. I have a 7-year-old sister, and just to see her dancing to it — she hasn’t been able to go to school, and just seeing how much fun it can be, it was such a highlight.”

In addition to “Ice Cream,” Gomez hosts HBO Max’s “Selena + Chef,” a series in which she invites well-known culinary masters to teach her how to cook. The show is shot virtually, with Gomez in her kitchen and her guests, including Roy Choi, Jon Shook, Ludo Lefebvre and Nancy Silverton, giving lessons via remote video. Gomez’s grandparents, who have been living with her during quarantine, make cameo appearances. 

And when it’s safe to do so, Gomez will shoot “Only Murders in the Building,” a new Hulu comedy crime series with Steve Martin and Martin Short. “I also think it’s going to bring a lot of joy to people,” says Gomez. “I was on a Zoom with Steve and Marty, and I’m like, ‘I’m not going to get any work done because they are just so quick in their back-and-forth.’”

Her new makeup line, Rare Beauty, was released on Sept. 3 with partial proceeds benefiting mental health service organizations. Gomez revealed in April during an appearance on Miley Cyrus’ Instagram Live show that she has bipolar disorder. She hopes the cruelty-free makeup line will help fans feel good about themselves. “I believe no matter what people say that it does have a connection to your mental health, how you see yourself, how do you maybe think differently?” Gomez explains. “I’ll say to my friends, I wish you can see just [she pinches her thumb and index finger together] this much of what I see. Sometimes we need to be reminded of that.”

Variety caught up with Gomez over Zoom from her home in Los Angeles.

It’s kind of mutual because we’re at the same label but under different umbrellas. I love Blackpink, and I’ve been obsessed with them. I was nervous because it is something that’s stepping out of my zone a little bit, but it was just the best time. I have so much respect for them; their work ethic and how much they put into what they do is pretty remarkable. So kind of seeing the crossover has been really interesting at the same time for both of us. Each of us got to go into that world together. 

Let’s talk about some of the lyrics. You sing, “I know that my heart is so cold, but I’m sweet for you. Come put me in a cone,” and, “You could double dip ’cause I know you like me.”

[Laughs] I hate when people read out lyrics. It just sounds so different. Yes. I did say that. All right. So how do I approach that now? … It kind of goes into the theme of what the song is, but yes, it’s a little scandalous.

How did “Selena + Chef” come about? Were you planning on doing a cooking show, or was it something that happened because of the pandemic?

It was actually just during quarantine. I had just moved into my house, and I had this dream kitchen, and I just imagined making meals and doing all of that, but then I realized I only knew how to cook like five things. 

What have you learned about yourself in quarantine?

It’s definitely the most time I’ve spent on my own probably since I was 16. At first it was super uncomfortable, more so because of the anxiety I was carrying because of everything that is happening. I also feel like I got the opportunity to learn a lot about my country in ways that I never have before. I feel like I’ve gained a sense of knowledge and a sense of feeling good about saying what I’m saying, and I feel good about what I’m standing by, and I’m not going to let other opinions conduct what I feel personally.

You had people like Stacey Abrams and transgender activist Raquel Willis take over your Instagram for a day. Why was that important to do?

When all of that started happening, I felt like there wasn’t much I can say. I’m obviously half Mexican, and I’m from Texas, and that’s a whole other community that gets attacked, but I felt it was necessary to give my platform to someone who does have that experience. It was almost disingenuous if I post something and give the credit to so-and-so. I want people to hear it from them and from multiple categories of the industry and of the government. Honestly, it was a no-brainer for me. 

Do you have hope for the country?

One thousand percent — that’s something I’ll never let go of. My friend sent me a news story that said statistically, my generation and maybe younger has shown less interest in voting than ever. It didn’t make sense because if anything, why wouldn’t we be more motivated to do that?

You’re also producing a lot. 

It was really interesting in the beginning. I think I learned a lot from “13 Reasons Why.” Then moving on more and more, I started to feel a lot more comfortable. Being on the other side has been really fun because I get to help be a part of the storytelling and get to help with shaping who these people are. It’s also something I’ve been doing during quarantine. At the moment I’m producing 16 projects. I’m just so happy because it’s all in different areas and it’s material I believe in.

Have you called Bill Murray [they appeared today in the 2019 zombie movie The Dead Don’t Die’] and asked him for advice on how to deal with Steve Martin?

You can’t call Bill Murray. He doesn’t have a phone. He is the best old schoolI think I’d have to send him a fax and I don’t even know if I even have that. I like to say that there has been this theme in acting for me from working with Billy Crudup to Paul Rudd, Bill Murray and now Steve and Marty. I end up having really fun relationships with people who have no idea who I am. Bill Murray would just call me “Gomez.” He’d be like, “Gomez — what’s the big deal with you?”

This interview has been edited and condensed. You can listen to the full interview with Gomez above. You can also find “The Big Ticket” at iHeartRadio or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

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