Selena Gomez is considered “the glue of the group” by her best friends Courtney Barry, Raquelle Stevens and Ashley Cook, but she also revealed herself as the circle’s “troublemaker” before opening up about her rough childhood. The four friends cozied up together during Stevens’ first installment of her inspirational Vodcast (video podcast) series, “Giving Back Generation,” which premiered on the entertainment platform Tatatu yesterday (Sept. 24).
The inaugural episode, titled “The Value of Friendship,” explored the foursome’s ingredients for longevity, including trust, which Gomez respects about her bond with the ladies.
So excited that Episode 1 of my latest series Giving Back Generation is out now! On this episode we talk about what giving looks like through friendship. This episode is particularly special to me as Courtney, Sel, and Ashley have been my friends all through my 20’s. We talk about what it means to support each other, forgive, and grow together. Look forward to hearing your feedback & hope it leaves you encouraged. Link in bio to download.
“Before I was such a wild card, I would tell everybody my story, I would invite people into my home,” the singer-actress said in the hour-long interview. “But I think what I learned about trust is to just not spread myself so thin, and I began to trust all of you because you allowed for that to happen…. People were taking advantage of me.”
Barry, one of Gomez’s closest confidantes, talked about being “protective” over her for that reason, to which the “Kill Em With Kindness” singer shared the best response later: “If anybody messes with my friends, I go off!”
The four have been marked for life — literally. In August 2018, they received matching “4” tattoos on their ankles and arms to symbolize “you are my 4 for the rest of my life,” Gomez wrote as the Instagram caption. Additionally, she and Barry got matching “1” tattoos on their sides, which was inspired by a ritual their married friends keep.
And lastly, my actual #1 @courtneyjbarry you are an incredible woman. The way you handle life’s most confusing moments is indescribable and graceful. You are moved by the littlest stories to the most heartbreaking ones, you will give someone your perfume if they say you smell nice, you are freaking hilarious and always stand firm in your faith, a loving sister, an amazing friend and a beautiful daughter. You are the definition of FEARFULLY and WONDERFULLY made baby! #1
Best friend turned 26. Part 2. #4 because these women have stayed by my side for 7 years (@ashley_cook 12 years) 4, because you are my 4 for the rest of my life. I love you ladies. You all inspire me to be better, stronger, closer to god and we have lived the most INSANE story together already. Can’t wait for 50 more!! Ps @raquellestevens had an actual panic attack — it’s a dot! —-??
“This was the cutest thing,” Gomez gushed. “Our married couple friends, they were like, in any room, where they’re socializing or they’re doing what they’re doing, they’ll always acknowledge each other from across the room…. And they would just go like this, they would go ‘Number 1.’ We were obsessed with that story.”
But getting tattoos isn’t the only bad-ass story the 27-year-old artist had to share on the Vodcast, where she proclaimed herself to be the “troublemaker of the group.” Barry applauded her for “keeping things interesting” by recalling the time they all wore wigs to go out. The “Me & My Girls” songstress even dished on her first food fight with Stevens, both using banana pudding, orange juice and miscellaneous refrigerator goodies before Gomez escalated the kitchen warfare with ketchup.
“I had to surrender because she is ruthless!” Stevens chimed in. She called it quits when Gomez had a ketchup bottle over her head. “Yeah, I was like, ‘No ketchup in the hair.’”
Even though Stevens is “very particular about her hair,” according to Barry, Gomez has had more tricks up her sleeve with no regard for being tidy. She told a story about being in a house in Newport Beach, Calif., with their friend Connor while the two prepared a surprise water gun fight for Cook and Stevens to walk in on.
“I called [Cook and Stevens] and I was just like, ‘Guys, I’m having the worst time. Please come home. I need you guys, please come back,’” the sneaky singer recalled. “Meanwhile, Connor and I were dancing to Drake and filling up these amazing water guns…. And then as soon as Raquelle walked in, we — I should post this — we completely showered, everything was just water. You were drenched in water.”
But not all of The Dead Don’t Die actress’ memories were joyful: She also discussed the loneliness she felt in middle school, and how friendships like hers now are a great visible reminder.
“I know when I was growing up, I went to school a little bit before I was home-schooled,” she said. “If my cousin wasn’t the captain of the cheerleading team, I would have been destroyed. Because I was kind of a nerd and just hung out with like one person, and that’s hard…. When I have meet-and-greets or talk to people, they always talk about friendships. They’ll always say, ‘You know, I don’t have a lot of friends.’”
She continued that her fans “feel a connection” to Cook, Stevens and Barry because of the public-facing persona their strong connection has taken on, which Gomez highlighted as the takeaway from this episode. “I want to be an example of friendship and what it can look like,” she noted.
They’ve been through thick and thin — even sleeping on hospital cots during Gomez’s kidney transplant surgery — and the star’s call to action, a regular ending note for Stevens’ show, was to encourage and maintain the kind of friendship the four have kept up for years.
“No matter where you are in life, the people that you surround yourself with is crucial,” the singer-actress commented. “I could have found other friends in my industry or town that maybe wouldn’t have been healthy for me or took me in a different direction. So I do feel that it’s important to surround yourself with people that can lift you up.”
Stream the entire interview on Tatatu here.