Selena Gomez Jokes, 'I Signed My Life Away to Disney' as She Reflects on New TV Show Role
Selena Gomez is coming back to television, and the break has only helped her grow as an actress.
The 29-year-old singer's latest role in the upcoming Hulu series Only Murders in the Building marks the first time she's acting in a TV show since Wizards of Waverly Place, the Disney Channel series she starred in from 2007 to 2012.
Asked about how the time off changed her as an actress on Friday during the Only Murders In the Building Television Critics Association press panel with costars Steve Martin and Martin Short, Gomez said that she's a much more "sophisticated" actress than she was when she first started in the business.
"I signed my life away to Disney at a very young age, so I didn't know exactly what I was doing," she joked. "I was a kid I didn't know what I was doing, I was just running around on set, and now I feel like a sponge and I soak up all the wisdom that I can."
The "Lose You to Love Me" singer made her acting debut on PBS' Barney & Friends from 2002 to 2004 before she landed at Disney for a brief role in Hannah Montana from 2007 to 2008.
She was a series lead on Wizards of Waverly Place, starring in the series alongside Jake T. Austin, David Henrie, Jennifer Stone, Maria Canals-Barrera, and David DeLuise.
Hulu's Only Murders In the Building finds Gomez playing a resident of an Upper West Side apartment building who teams up with two of her neighbors (played by Martin and Short) to discover the truth behind a neighbor's sudden death.
Of her latest role in the comedic murder-mystery, Gomez told press on Friday, "The level of sophistication of the material is the first reason why I wanted to do this."
Gomez added, "It's really nice to be back on TV and it's nice to be cast as my actual age, which never happens."
Her Only Murders In the Building costar Martin, 75, joked during the panel, "I'm dying to be cast as my actual age instead of this damn 35!"
Although this is Gomez's first return to television since Disney, she's acted in several movies, including Spring Breakers, The Big Short, Fundamentals of Caring and The Dead Don't Die.
She also executive produced the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, as well as the Netflix docuseries Living Undocumented about undocumented people in the United States. Most recently, she premiered a new cooking show on HBO Max, called Selena + Chef, which explored her skills in the kitchen while hunkered down at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
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Speaking to Vogue for its April cover story, the singer admitted that after launching into fame as a child star on Disney Channel, she worried about being typecast.
"I still live with this haunting feeling that people still view me as this Disney girl," she told the outlet earlier this year.
Gomez explained that starting her career early, playing Alex Russo on Wizards of Waverly Place made her feel like she needed "to be perfect."
"That was my job in a way—to be perfect," she said. "You're considered a figure kids look up to, and they take that seriously there."Only Murders in the Building premieres Aug. 31 on Hulu.