Selena Gomez Didn’t Know How Important Her TV Role Was Until She Met A Teary-Eyed Mother

"I recognized then that it meant something to people. That it matters."

When it comes to Wizards of Waverly Place, it was more than just a gig for Selena Gomez — our favorite big sister. The 25-year-old, who is Billboard's latest Woman of the Year recipient, recalled the moment she realized her Mexican heritage was a beacon for other Latina women in the world and says that, "now more than ever," she is "proud of it."

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"We would do these live tapings every Friday, and one Friday there was this single mother with her four kids," Gomez told Harper's Bazaar as its March 2018 cover girl about an experience that happened when she was about 15 or 16. "She was Latin, and she came up to me after, crying. Her kids were so excited, but I noticed the mom, so I gave her a hug and asked, 'Hey, are you okay?'"

Credit: Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

The "Bad Liar" singer — who uses Instagram to celebrate wellness and self-love — went on to explain that this exchange showed her what this starring role on a major Disney Channel show meant to others but also how she thought of herself as a kid. It was our latest reminder that representation matters, even if we're just talking about a TV show directed at children.

"And she was like, 'It's really incredible for my daughters to see that a Latina woman can be in this position and achieve her dreams, someone who isn't the typical, you know, blonde with blue eyes.' And I knew what she meant," Gomez continued. "When I was younger my idol was Hilary Duff! I remember wanting blue eyes too. So I think I recognized then that it meant something to people. That it matters."

Gomez — who lists Meryl Streep, Grace VanderWaal, and Amal Clooney as female role models — admitted wanting to separate her career from her culture "most of the time" because she doesn't want people "to judge me based on my looks when they have no idea who I am." That said, she says it is her goal to learn more Spanish to connect to that side of herself.

(H/T: BuzzFeed)

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