SELENA GOMEZ needs a nap.
It was a week ago Monday at the Four Seasons Hotel and the 18-year-old actress/singer, who was hospitalized for exhaustion a few weeks back, has just flown in from Toronto, where the previous night she’d performed and hosted a major Canadian music-awards show.
Between the post-show adrenaline rush and boyfriend Justin Bieber showing up to support her, Gomez had a late night and an early flight, and after two hours of interviews would be off to the King of Prussia Mall to greet thousands of screaming fans.
The “Mall Tour” would bring her to Boston, Detroit, Chicago, New York and other cities to promote her new movie, “Monte Carlo,” and her new CD, “When the Sun Goes Down,” which was released yesterday.
Her concert tour, with her band, The Scene, kicks off at the end of next month and comes to the Mann Music Center on Aug. 19. It will hit 31 cities in 43 days.
Is it any wonder she’s yawning?
With the relentless travel and pressure to be ON all the time (happy, energetic, personable), it’s easy to see how teen stars can lose themselves in bad behavior and artificial stimulants. But by all accounts, Gomez is a solid teen role model – works hard, doesn’t play too hard, understands her good fortune, respects her fans, etc.
So she politely sits in a hotel suite to talk about “Monte Carlo” – in which she plays both an American teenager and a British heiress – as her publicity team hovers nearby to fend off any questions about Bieber or her hospital visit. She is willing to talk about how she tries to stays normal while being surrounded by an entourage.
“I have to be a teenager,” she said. “I have to hang out with my friends. I have to talk to my friends. I have to get out by myself without security or my mom. That’s if my mom can get me out of the house, because I’m actually a couch potato. I love sitting and watching movies.”
Gomez said she got the starring role in “Monte Carlo” because she worked with 20th Century Fox “on ‘Ramona and Beezus,’ and I created a really good relationship with them.”
“So when ‘Monte Carlo’ came about, they talked to [director] Tom Bezucha, and they said they wanted me to play Grace and Cordelia.”
“I was excited they were willing to take a chance on me,” Gomez added.
In the romantic comedy, variations of which go back to “The Prince and the Pauper,” Gomez’s galpals are played by Katie Cassidy (“Melrose Place”) and Leighton Meester (“Gossip Girl”), who haven’t been teenagers for, uh, a while.
“It’s funny you say that,” Gomez said, “because I was very intimidated when I found out that Leighton and Katie got the parts. I was nervous that they were both going to be hanging out with each other and leave this 17-year-old kid out, but they were unbelievable. I don’t think I’ve ever met two girls with such class and such wonderful hearts. They’re just so good to everybody, and they were so good to me – and very protective. I got very lucky.”
The young actress was not as lucky when it came to playing polo in the film.
“Actually I was supposed to be good at polo, but I was so bad when we were practicing that they rewrote the script. It made the film a lot funnier but it was very humiliating. Polo’s a lot harder than it looks. Not my thing.”
As for the new album, Gomez said it’s a progression in her growth as a singer.
“I think each album kind of represents the time that I’m in,” she said. “This album is really uplifting. It’s fun and upbeat and it’s got great messages, and I think it’s going to be a big summer anthem for a lot of people . . . hopefully.”
Up next is the summer music tour and development of the book Thirteen Reasons Why into a movie. Although the popular young-adult novel deals with teen suicide, Gomez and author Jay Asher want the film to be more inspiring than tragic.
“My mom found the book a while back, and she had me read it,” Gomez said. “I fell in love with it and we went out to get the rights, and now we’re turning it into a film. I don’t think it’s risky or a big leap for me because I think the message applies to my generation.”
Like most young stars, Gomez speaks to her generation via her website and Twitter, although she does get complaints about her tweeting.
“I get comments every day that I don’t use Twitter right,” she said. “A few people are angry that all I do is talk about ‘Monte Carlo’ and my album, but to me that’s what it’s for. I tell my fans random things like my favorite quotes or my favorite songs, maybe a photo shoot that I’m doing where I love the clothes and I can’t wait for them to see it. But that’s what it’s for – to connect with my fans and let them know what I’m doing and how I’m doing and what I’m excited about. I really want to believe that my fans don’t care about when I’m cooking or going to the bathroom.”
Or taking a nap.
“I try to take a day off here and there,” Gomez said, when asked about her grueling schedule. “At the moment I’m promoting a lot, so I don’t get much sleep as you could tell from the yawn in our interview – and I apologize for that.”