13 Reasons Why is a special show, especially for executive producer Selena Gomez. Gomez, who serves as an EP alongside others including her mom Mandy Teefey, creator Brian Yorkey, Oscar-winner Tom McCarthy, had the rights to the books by Jay Asher for years before the series came together. Just don't call her the boss lady.
"Well, I know that I'm not the boss. I think for me, when we first started working on this, I told my mom that it was definitely harder [being a producer] because I was more defensive. I was like, ‘Why is this person saying this? How come they just got on this project now?' I was very loyal to the project for seven years, and I think, if anything I was like [Laughs.] a little bully, and I was like, ‘Why do we have to listen to anybody else?'" she told reporters at the 13 Reasons Why premiere on Thursday, March 30.
"I wanted Jay Asher to be happy, and I think that is why we had Brian Yorkey and it made me feel a lot better," she continued. "But you get nervous, you don't know if people are going to like something."
It's safe to say people like 13 Reasons Why. The series, which debuted all episodes on Friday, March 31, has been met with rave reviews. The drama tells the story of Hannah Baker (played by Katherine Langford) and her death. She kills herself, with seemingly no explanation. That is until 13 cassette tapes, her 13 reasons why she killed herself, make their way around her high school. The show is told from Hannah's and Clay Jensen's (Dylan Minnette) perspectives as Clay listens to Hannah's tapes.
Through the course of the series, viewers learn how the actions (like stalking, bullying and more dramatic experiences) of others impacted Hannah, each tape focusing on a specific person and incident.
So, what was it about the project the kept Gomez's interest for so long? There are "a lot of reasons," she said.
"I think the message, how I felt when I first read the book, I felt like Hannah, and now, seven years later, I still felt like Hannah even more than I ever did. So I think the message and people, no matter what age you are, can relate to the story," Gomez said on the red carpet. "Everybody has gone through this, and more than ever it should be talked about today."
While she may have felt like a bully at times on the set, her stars had nothing but good things to say about working with the singer-actress.
"I think she just let the people who were physically making this, make it, and she just really put a lot of trust in us in that way," Minnette told E! News in February. "She came at the end, and as soon as she came was so warm and so welcoming and passionate about it, and made us feel so at home. She really just made us feel really special and welcome. She's amazing."
Justin Prentice, Bryce on the series, said he worked with Teefey and Gomez on developing his character. "We got together several times, just different dinners and whatnot to kind of flesh out the story, how it worked, the characters, who we thought they were and how she kind of saw them. And just kind of working together to build spherical characters in a sense," he said.
Devin Druid, the photographer Tyler in 13 Reasons Why, said when Gomez came at the end of production it was "bittersweet" because "we didn't want to leave each other."
"It was also so good to say, ‘Look at what we've made, look at the people whose project we've made into a reality.' It was so cool for her to come at the end and just talk like friends because we didn't really have to do anything at that point," Druid said. "We talked about the show but then we talked and it was like, ‘So what's next? How are you doing? What are you looking forward to doing? What kind of music do you like? What are you watching? What do are you listening to?'…It was really cool and really heartwarming and relaxing at the end to do all that."
Gomez took to Instagram when the show officially dropped on Netflix and posted the photo above of her on set.
"Our show [13 Reasons Why] came out tonight and I couldn't be more overwhelmed with pride and joy. After [seven] years of holding onto this book, I couldn't of picked a better time for this message to exist," she wrote. "Jay Asher wrote a beautifully tragic, compelling story and we were lucky to have brought it to life. Thank you to every single soul that put their heart into this passion project."
All 13 episodes of 13 Reasons Why are now streaming on Netflix.