Billboard Women in Music 'Chart Topper' Selena Gomez: 'This Was the First Time I Was Able to Trust Myself'
At 23, Selena Gomez has held down a career for longer than a lot of full-fledged adults -- and, not to rub it in, one that has been far more successful. Despite having worked since childhood -- she landed a Barney & Friends in 2002, role at the age of 10 -- the former Disney star says, "I still feel like I'm the girl from Texas. My mom would still be mad if I didn't say 'please' and 'thank you.'"
But in 2015, Gomez set out to show how much she has grown up. With her second solo album, Revival (which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in October), the singer-actor introduced an increasingly mature style -- from steamy first single "Good for You" (featuring A$AP Rocky) to her choice to pose nearly nude for the cover art. Also, this year, Gomez went public about her battle with lupus in Billboard's cover story. It all fits the theme: At the core, Revival is about being true to yourself, even when that means raw exposure. "Strength represents a vulnerability," she says. "This was the first time I was able to really trust myself and go with my gut."
"Judy Garland. I was obsessed with The Wizard of Oz. I didn't realize until I was older that she lived a tragic life."
The Lupus Circus
"It has been overwhelming and the response has been very supportive, which is nice -- but it still makes me a little uncomfortable. I waited for the right time to talk about it because I am in a great place and I'm very healthy. I'm not trying to be loud about it: It was time to use my platform to help."
The Album-Art Issue
"One of my favorite album covers is Miguel's Wildheart. He's shirtless, he's got a woman on him, and it's so beautiful. But that's looked at as a piece of art, whereas people are questioning my album cover -- or my character."
"I would totally love to work with Meryl Streep -- it doesn't even have to be a whole film. I could be the waitress that comes in and just says, 'Hi.' "
On A Scale of 1 to 10, The Year 2015
"A good 8. A lot of ups and downs, but they helped shape who I am."
This story originally appeared in the Dec. 12 issue of Billboard.