Women In Music

Billboard Women in Music 'Chart Topper' Selena Gomez: 'This Was the First Time I Was Able to Trust Myself'

Selena Gomez photographed on Aug. 31, 2015 in Los Angeles.
Zoey Grossman

Selena Gomez photographed on Aug. 31, 2015 in Los Angeles.

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.'"

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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."

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Early Fixation
"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."

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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."

Onscreen Dream
"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."

2015 Billboard Women in Music

This story originally appeared in the Dec. 12 issue of Billboard.