Selena Gomez on Her Cannes Win for Best Actress, ‘Only Murders’ and Potentially Becoming Most Emmy-Nominated Latina Producer

Selena Gomez, who continues to redefine her career as a multitalented singer, actress and producer, may soon be adding “Oscar contender” to the mix.

The “Only Murders in the Building” star has proven her acting prowess and demonstrated her versatility as a comedic performer alongside comedy legends Steve Martin and Martin Short in the mystery romp. And now, later this year, Gomez will be seen on the big screen via her Cannes best actress-winning performance (which she shared with her co-stars) in Jacques Audiard’s “Emilia Perez.”

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Only three Latinas have been nominated in the lead actress comedy category at the Emmys: Rita Moreno (who was nominated in 1983 for “9 to 5”), America Ferrera (who won in 2007 for “Ugly Betty” and received another nom in 2008) and Jenna Ortega (last year for “Wednesday”). Gomez’s role as Mabel has been one of the show’s bright spots. The comedy categories are undoubtedly competitive, with returning winners Jean Smart (“Hacks”), Ayo Edebiri (“The Bear”), and Quinta Brunson (“Abbott Elementary”). Nonetheless, Gomez is within range of receiving her first acting nom.

Also serving as one of the executive producers for “Only Murders,” she’s only the third Latina ever nominated in the outstanding comedy series category, following Salma Hayek for ABC’s “Ugly Betty” in 2007. The other was Cuban producer Marlis Pujol, who was nominated for two consecutive years for Netflix’s “The Kominsky Method” in 2020 and 2021. In addition, only one Latina woman has won as a producer in any of the top series categories in history (Celia D. Costas for “Angels in America” in 2004). If nominated a third time this year, she will become the most nominated Latina producer in the category’s history.

Proudly identifying as a third-generation American-Mexican (her father is Mexican and her paternal grandparents were born in Monterrey), Gomez’s inclusion is fresh air for Latin representation in Hollywood.

As for Audiard’s Spanish-language movie, which Netflix acquired, Gomez plays Jessi, alongside Zoe Saldaña (as Rita) and Karla Sofía Gascón as the title character in “Emilia Pérez.” The film, about three women who become forever bonded by their traumatic experiences in Mexico City’s cartel-run underbelly, earned a passionate nine-minute standing ovation at Cannes. Netflix is planning an orchestrated awards run for the movie, which could put Gomez in the running for her first Oscar nomination.

Below are some excerpts from her interview on Variety’s Awards Circuit Podcast. Listen to the full episode and conversation:

Only Murders In The Building -- “Framed” - Episode 202 -- A memorial for Bunny Folger provides an opportunity for our trio to question their neighbors, while they also try to get rid of a very implicating piece of evidence.  One of Bunny’s relatives makes a surprising appearance and if you thought Bunny was a force, get ready… Mabel (Selena Gomez), shown. (Photo by: Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu)
Only Murders In The Building

What was it like sharing the screen with Meryl Streep for the third season of “Only Murders in the Building?”

There are no words to describe Meryl. She embodies grace and is a wonderful human being. Everything she does reflects that. Even when she was running lines, we believed her. She’s incredibly humble, and it was impressive to see someone I’ve always admired still be so real. I deeply appreciate the opportunity to work with her and will never take it for granted.

Can you discuss building a hilarious rapport with Martin Short and how Mabel reacts to his antics?

She’s definitely more reactional, and truth be told, I’m genuinely shocked by half the things he does. He’s so quick, witty, and always nails the punchline. There have been so many moments I couldn’t contain myself. Our rapport started in season one when I asked if I could sit next to them, and they laughed, saying I was already sitting there. Since then, they have slowly become important figures in my life, helping me grow. For four years, they’ve been a huge part of my life. Sometimes, I can’t believe this is my job.

Coming off of winning the best actress prize at Cannes and all the accolades from “Only Murders,” what does it feel like to get this notoriety in your career?

Film and TV have always been my outlet, and acting holds a special place in my heart. Working with people like Zoe, Karla and Jacques is a privilege, and I believe hard work pays off. I hope to continue growing as an actor. Everything in my life feels like a gift, and I’m incredibly grateful. This is my true passion, and I hope for more opportunities in the future, but you never know with this crazy business.

What is Selena Gomez’s dream role? Is it a musical role?

Oh my god, that would be so hard. It wouldn’t be a musical, but I saw Scarlett Johansson in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” and I found it profound and beautiful. I don’t think it would be a big production, but I would love to dive into a role like that.

You’ve been very open about your struggles with anxiety, as seen in your documentary and previous interviews. Can you talk about how you feel at this stage?

As you get older, you start to care less about things that are negative or bring you down. People told me this when I was in my 20s, and now I understand it better. It’s natural to occasionally get caught up in negativity; it’s impossible to ignore entirely. There are ugly things in life, but I’m grateful I don’t let them affect me as much. I like where I am now, and although my anxiety is still there, I work on it every day.

Is there any way you could have taken on the roles you’re doing now when you were in your 20s?

Oh no, I would have been a different person. I’m still the same me, but I’ve grown a lot, especially in the past two to three years. I’ve enjoyed getting to know myself, my boundaries, and my needs. I feel very happy and in control of what is good for me and what is awesome.

I have thoroughly enjoyed Benny Blanco’s TikToks, especially the one he did with Dave Burd about peanut butter and jelly. How has he fit into this new phase of your life, and do you love PB&J just as much?

He’s been just a lovely addition to my life. And yes, of course, I love it. I love all of his food.

There have been multiple murders surrounding the “Only Murders” trio, and people have speculated this upcoming fourth season could be the last. Is it?

I honestly don’t know what the future holds. Every season, we put everything into the show as if it’s our last. I’m really happy with how it’s blossomed and am content right now. But again, who knows? Let’s see what happens.

You’re also an executive producer on “Only Murders,” which has been nominated for outstanding comedy series twice. If nominated a third time, you would become the most nominated Latina producer in the category’s history, surpassing Salma Hayek for “Ugly Betty.” How does that feel?

I don’t know. I didn’t even know that, so these little nuggets of information keep me going. They make me proud. I’ve always been proud of my last name, heritage, and culture, but I need to stop more and realize how great this is. If it’s true, I can’t wait to tell my dad.

What does playing Mabel represent to you, and how have you connected to her so well across multiple seasons?

I think the first season mirrored my experience of moving to New York for the first time in over a month. I had shot a few things here, but living independently and having my own apartment was new. Getting to know Steve and Marty and developing the character felt like we were creating it together, even though Steve and [John Hoffman] are the actual writers. They’re fantastic. It was fun to become these characters a little bit. She is a bit like me, though hopefully not as morbid. She’s an extension of me in some ways. I’m a weirdo, but my friends know that.

I’m an advocate of owning your “weird.”

I own it. I hang out with 70-year-olds for half the year, and they’re my favorite humans.

Emilia Pérez
Emilia Pérez

Your upcoming film “Emilia Perez” was well-received at Cannes, where you shared the best actress prize with your co-stars. What was it like to take on a musical, especially one with such powerful representation as we sit in Pride month?

It’s beautiful. It’s beautiful timing for this film. I loved it. The music wasn’t what I was used to; it felt grand, open, and big, which was new for me. Working with Camille, her husband, and their whole family, including their little daughter, was fun. I enjoyed myself and explored a style of singing I had never done before.

Was there a moment when you realized the amazing Jacques Audiard was directing you?

I’m so lucky because the people in my life have great taste, which has helped me learn and grow. It’s nice to have guidance from others who would be amazing to work with, whether in writing or production. My mom started it all by helping me get “Spring Breakers,” a project I’m proud of despite its uniqueness. The taste around me has shaped my own. Working with Zoe, Édgar and Karla, we often can’t believe he is directing us. Even when he gave me directions about being sad, I was just so happy.

What can we expect from this fourth season of “Only Murders in the Building?”

What’s been great is having all these guest stars who genuinely want to be there. It’s wonderful when everyone shows up on time, wants to have a good time, and laughs together while making the show. That’s what this whole season felt like. Every actor, like Molly Shannon, Richard Kind and Zach Galifianakis, made it hard for me to keep my composure. I’m looking forward to the blooper reel because it’s too good to be true.

My character aims to lead the group, but the heart of the story is Steve’s journey of losing one of his best friends. Marty is living his chaotic life as Oliver, always in and out. Steve’s character, Charles, is going through that profound loss. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

What’s the status of your Linda Ronstadt film?

There are no updates on that. I think for me, I’m taking everything, day by day. I’m so happy with how things are going, but I want to take a little second to breathe when I’m done shooting [“Only Murders”].

What’s next on your docket?

I don’t know, and I think that’s the best part. I’ve been reading scripts and getting excited about producing a few projects. Running Rare Beauty and the Impact Fund is meaningful and gives me purpose, so I’ll always be working on that. But for now, I will see where the world takes me and what captures my attention.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Variety’s “Awards Circuit” podcast, hosted by Clayton Davis, Jenelle Riley, Jazz Tangcay, Emily Longeretta and Michael Schneider, who also produces, is your one-stop source for lively conversations about the best in film and television. Each week, “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top film and TV talent and creatives, discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines, and much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post weekly.

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