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Selena Gomez just scored a rare role.
The pop singer and actress will play the pioneering Peruvian American mountaineer Silvia Vasquez-Lavado in an upcoming biopic written and directed by Elgin James ("Lowriders") and produced by Oscar winner Donna Gigliotti ("Hidden Figures"). The movie is based on Vasquez-Lavado's upcoming memoir, "In the Shadow of the Mountain," to be published in 2022.
The project, which both Gomez and Vasquez-Lavado shared on social media, is already being floated as Oscar material.
"I am so humbled and grateful to share this thrilling news, which has been in the works for the last 10 months, that an all-star team has optioned my upcoming memoir ... for a movie adaptation," Vasquez-Lavado wrote Wednesday on Instagram, calling Gomez "bold, talented, and brilliant."
I am so humbled and grateful to share this thrilling news, which has been in the works for the last 10months, that an all-star team has optioned my upcoming memoir In The Shadow of the Mountain (to be published 02-2022 by @madelinecjones Holt/Macmillan) for a movie adaptation. I am so honored and touched for the bold, talented, and brilliant @selenagomez in taking the starring role and as producer; To her incredible team @zackmorgenroth and @aleenkeshishian; Grateful to have the groundbreaking visionary #DonnaGigliotti and her Tempesta films involved; For the talented @elginnjames on the helm for screenplay and direction; And the support of @onecommunity films led by the trailblazer @scottbudnick1 and @lauren_denormandie None of this would have happened without the faith of my amazing family at @ideaarchitects, my incredible agent and dearest friend @laralovehardin, #dougabrams and my sweet family at WME led by #sylvierabineau and #carolinabeltran And to all of my family and friends, thank you for all your words of encouragement and support along this road. I can’t wait to share more! Link on my bio!
A post shared by Silvia Vasquez-Lavado (@silviavasla) on Nov 11, 2020 at 2:34pm PST
But the actress' fans had mixed emotions about her upcoming role. While most voiced excitement for Gomez, some speculation abounded over the fact that the actress will play a lesbian pioneer.
Vasquez-Lavado was the first out gay woman to complete the Seven Summits, climbing the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. She claimed that title in June 2018.
"But Selena isn’t gay. I wish they would give unknown LGBTQ actors a chance at playing such a defining role," one Twitter user wrote. "I love Selena I just wish this casting straight actors in LGBTQ roles phase would end! Love Simon, Brokeback Mountain, and so many more good films using straight actors."
Representatives for Gomez did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment.
omg when locals drag her for playing a gay character to get a hit tweet and when it reaches 100k she comes out as bi and then everyone goes silent 👀👀
— J (@asweetrplace) November 11, 2020
Others pointed out, though, that Vasquez-Lavado herself will be helping to executive produce the film, indicating her approval of the casting decision. (The mountain climber also wrote on Instagram that she was "honored and touched for the bold, talented, and brilliant @selenagomez in taking the starring role.")
When Between the Lines asked Gomez in 2015 if she had ever questioned her sexuality, the actress responded: "Oh, I think everybody does, no matter who they are. I do, yeah, of course. Absolutely. I think it’s healthy to gain a perspective on who you are deep down, question yourself and challenge yourself; it’s important to do that."
Gomez and Vasquez-Lavado have also faced their fair share of obstacles.
i don’t really care if straight actors play gay characters but i feel like it’s disrespectful when it’s a biopic for a real life gay woman but if she’s alive and fine with it i guess it doesn’t matter?? https://t.co/TgUu6w8w0b
— linds is in her destiel era (@jojochalamet) November 11, 2020
The singer's latest album, "Rare," alluded to some of her fight against depression and anxiety. “Is there a place where I can hide away?” she wonders on “A Sweeter Place”: “There must be a sweeter place — we can sugarcoat the taste."
The "13 Reasons Why" executive producer opened up over the summer about living with bipolar disorder during the pandemic lockdown. More recently, Gomez wrote for CNN Style about how beauty can influence mental health.
"We are constantly bombarded with images and social media posts that make people feel like they need to achieve perfection, which is unattainable," she said. "I think admitting I am a human being, and not perfect — nobody is — was actually more beneficial to the people that looked up to me."
Thank you @the_explorers_club for this amazing panel. So proud to be part of our new diversity initiative! 🏳️🌈🌈 Join me, @richardwiese @casoncrane and @kdavidharrison tomorrow for this fun panel! Links on bio. #Repost @the_explorers_club with @get_repost ・・・ Silvia Vasquez-Lavado @silviavasla is a Peruvian-American explorer, mountaineer, social entrepreneur, Fulbright scholar, and technologist. She became the first Peruvian woman to summit Mt. Everest in May 2016 and became the first openly gay woman to complete the Seven Summits by summiting Denali on June 2018. Silvia summited Mt. Kosciuszko in Australia and Carstensz Pyramid in the island of Papua, Oceania in March of 2015, and Vinson Massif in Antarctica in December of 2015. In 2014, she launched a nonprofit that helps survivors of sexual abuse. Silvia Vasquez-Lavado is one of the presenters at "Exploring #Pride: #LGBTQ Explorers & Their Global Community," streaming tomorrow, October 21st at 7PM EDT. We will focus on the world of exploration through the eyes of LGBTQ explorers and scientists, provide a history of LGBTQ exploration, and discuss how being gay has contributed to the participants’ aspirations and accomplishments as scientists and explorers. TEC President, @richardwiese will offer welcome remarks, highlighting how the Club is carrying out our efforts to be more inclusive and diverse as new and young explorers take the lead on tomorrow’s expeditions. Streaming will be available at 7PM EDT on explorers.org and on our Facebook page. Further details are available via the link in our bio. . . . . . . . . . . . . #science #lecture #educational #inclusivity #explorersclubmember #explorersclub #theexplorersclub #gay #lesbian #bisexual #trans #queer #watchlist
A post shared by Silvia Vasquez-Lavado (@silviavasla) on Oct 20, 2020 at 4:25pm PDT
Vasquez-Lavado, meanwhile, survived sexual abuse during her childhood in Peru. More than 30 years later, she founded Courageous Girls, a nonprofit that works to heal and empower survivors of violence and abuse through nature.
“Silvia is a force of nature,” Gigliotti told the Hollywood Reporter. “Scott [Budnick] and I are so excited to work with Elgin and Selena to tell this story of resilience, courage, adventure and humanity.”
"The first time seeing Mount Everest gave me a security, a sweetness, a tenderness, a sense of safety I had never felt," Vasquez-Lavado told the Chicago Tribune. "When you experience trauma, you become detached of your body, of your own persona. I was so moved by the mountains that it rekindled my life."
"I went from survivor to empowerer," she said.
One of the amazing things about Denali is meeting people that just blow you away and humble you to your core. That moment happened for me when I met @kirstie_ennis 🙌🏽 and her amazing tent-mate Katelyn. They are here on an all kickass female expedition of 4, trying Denali. I first met Katelyn who shared her passion of working with survivors of trafficking in India and Nepal. #courageousgirls #sevensummits #denalicorazon 🗻
A post shared by Silvia Vasquez-Lavado (@silviavasla) on Jun 11, 2018 at 8:41pm PDT
In November 2015, Vasquez-Lavado hiked to the base of Mount Everest with a group of Nepalese girls, all of whom had been trafficked in India.
"My young courageous girls stood stunned gazing up at at Everest. Here they were, their dream had come true, unlike many of their dreams that had been shattered by empty promises," Vasquez-Lavado wrote on her blog.
"We put together the beautiful prayer flags with all what we wanted to leave behind and for all that we wanted to bring into our lives," she continued. "A new beginning for many of us; a new way of leaving so much of the painful past behind."
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.