Selena Gomez's Mom, Executive Producer Mandy Teefey, Talks '13 Reasons Why' Season 2 & Her Best Career Advice (Exclusive Q&A)

You may know Mandy Teefey simply as Selena Gomez's mom, but you should know her for the accomplished, creative and persevering person she is.

As the founder and CEO of Kicked to the Curb Productions, this exemplary woman has taken Hollywood by the horns and shown she's here to stay. Her first project, 13 Reasons Why, based on the book of the same name, has made such a huge impact on the millennial generation that it was renewed for a second season. When she's not working on set, Teefey works with charities that support children in foster care, and ending gun violence. She is the definition of a true #girlboss. 

Her Campus chatted with Teefey about the origin of her first passion project, what's she's currently working on and the best advice she's ever received. 

Her Campus: You’re the executive producer of 13 Reasons Why and CEO of Kicked to the Curb Productions, how have these impressive roles shaped you as a person? What lessons have you drawn from the experiences?

Mandy Teefey: With 13 Reasons Why, the biggest lesson I learned from it is something that's super passionate and a story, will not leave you. You know it has to be told and stick with it until it's done, and done the way that you want it to be done. It took about eight years to find the right people to surround myself with that understood the same vision that we all had originally and took 10 years for it to get on the air. That lesson right there taught me really how to stay with my gut instinct. With my company, we have been developing different projects, and I just wanted the first one that came out with my name and my company logo to really represent the direction of my company and what I kind of stand for.

HC: What’s your best memory of being on set of 13 Reasons Why?

MT: The best memory has to be wrap of the first season. That's the best memory because it was a slow day, and people were just hanging around. We didn't have a lot to do, but everybody stayed back. When it was over, everybody was crying, and it just shows what a family everybody became from crew to EP to the director to the cast. It was like, "Okay, we're family now, and we accomplished something that we were told we weren't going to accomplish."

HC: Season two isn’t based on the novel, so how did you and your team ensure the first and second seasons would feel connected and authentic to one another? Did you face any challenges?

MT: That would be more of a showrunner kind of question for Brian Yorkey. He came up with the story and how to connect it. We would just have our notes and our thoughts. When you do television, a showrunner is pretty much the way a director is on film.

HC: Do you think there will be a season three?

MT: Just like we didn't know if there was going to be a season two, we're in the same boat right now. It was supposed to be a mini-series. It was supposed to be done.

 

Keeping up hope advice : I have been through a lot in my life. People come and go. Some leave damage. Some leave positive change. Some are there even when you don’t know it. So, whenever I get a card, a random thoughtful email from someone I haven’t heard from in a long time or text; I print it out and I put them in a book. When I feel alone or not worthy, I read them. So, I challenge everyone today to send an email or text to someone whether you think they are the strongest person you know (because sometimes they are only strong for everyone else only) or someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time a simple thought to remind them they matter. Spread this challenge and start building your own book. #mylovetoyou challenge. This photo is from #Marchforyourlives in Dallas. Keep it going. We will get there!!! @stylistjm10 = I have failed her as a friend, but she has a huge place in my heart at all times. Thank you for not giving up on me. I just replied to her and happy tears are flowing.

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HC: Do you have any projects in the works or anything you’d like to accomplish after this is done?

MT: I have a project that I am doing, and there's kind of like a double media to it. I am writing a book based on nature versus nurture, and at the same time shooting a documentary about me being adopted and the way I was brought up, what influenced me and what's my nature or my nurture. I was out looking for it and we decided it was a great way to talk about a topic that really doesn't have a lot of stuff out there. It's something that's been a long-term process and very emotional, so I'm excited to be able to talk about it further when it's completed. We have a couple other projects that we are adapting—not all YA—and playing with them. I'm really excited about what we discussed and hopefully can tell you about it soon.

I really want our company to focus on content that's entertaining but also there's something there that you can take away from it, whether you realize you're doing it or not. It's a little tricky to do that when you're trying to be entertaining at the same time, because you don't want to take a serious topic and make it gratuitous. You want to make sure you're respecting and being honest with it, and I think great storytelling is a reflection of what our society is. You can do that in animation. You can do that in fantasy. You can do it anywhere. It's all about the writing. Writing is really important to me and making sure I get the proper writers on board, and that can take a really long time.

Also, we have incorporated a charity day at my company that we will begin in July. Each month we'll have a day where our phones will be turned off, the emails will be turned off and we will spend the whole day doing charity for an association. I would also like to do some more speaking but in a town hall element to support the youth and people who have gone through things. I've gone through a lot of things in my life, and I just want to take that and be able to give it back. I just want to try to take their pain and prevent it from happening and let them know they're not alone.

 

Team Thirteen! One year anniversary. One year ago, this group of people and many, many more that sacrificed their own personal lives day in and day out to make change. Taking the risk for a cause the rest was afraid to face head on. They don’t stop there. This cast did not use this as a career launcher, they are all making change on their individual time with social issues affecting people. So, a television show, created conversation, created change and created new leaders. Beyond blessed. Love to all. Crew, EPS, Netflix, Paramount, supporters and our fabulous writers and Yorkey! Our heart. Thank you all for making a ten year rejection a historical moment by your dedication on the show and on your own time. XO

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HC: When work gets tough and you’re feeling discouraged, what cheers you up or inspires you to keep going?

MT: Funny Girl by Barbara Streisand cheers me up all the time no matter what happens. I don't know why because I'm not a big musical person. Any Beastie Boys song always makes me happy. There isn't really a particular book that makes me happy because one of my favorite books is so cliché, but it's Bell Jar. It's obviously not a happy book. I do read motivational books and have tons of books, so it's kind of funny that I don't have one in particular that I read. Bell Jar I've probably read a million times.

HC: What is the most useful advice you’ve been given that you think could be applicable for young women in college or starting out in their careers?

MT: The best advice I've ever been given is to be myself. Never change who you are, and stay on your path because in this industry many people are afraid of honesty. The other one is, if you're the smartest person in the room, then you're in the wrong room.