She wears something cool, it’s instantly trending. She drops a track, it instantly charts. She contracts with a fashion brand, and its stocks rise. She gets a new beau, and they’re instantly a hyphenated couple flocked by paparazzi. If we’re going by hit singles and Instagram followers as our metrics, she’s possibly the biggest popstar in the world – but really, who could measure the influence of today’s birthday girl Selena Gomez?
While many pop stars have been associated with a sort of vague vacuity, Gomez is smart, compassionate, honest, and – most importantly – kind. She is known for her philanthropic work as much as she is her starring role in a Jim Jarmusch film or her chart-topping singles. Her life started humbly in a small town in Texas, born to a 16-year-old mother who raised her alone for many of her formative years. Strangely enough, her entertainment career is owed to a big purple dinosaur.
Gomez’s first on-screen appearance happened at the age of ten, when she was cast on Barney & Friends, which she credits with giving her a crash course in acting. It wasn’t until she landed the lead role on Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place that she started becoming a household name. From there, Gomez focused on simultaneously developing her singing and acting skills. She formed a band called Selena Gomez & the Scene, and concurrently landed voice-acting roles on Hotel Transylvania, starred as Ramona in the film adaptation of Ramona & Beezley, and released an eco-friendly clothing line called Dream Out Loud with Sears.
While Gomez has been wildly popular with young tweens because of her Disney show for the majority of her early career, it wasn’t until she landed a role opposite James Franco in Harmony Korine’s controversial film Spring Breakers (2013) that an older generation began to take note. Alongside a bevy of pop tunes that landed on the Billboard Hot 100 charts came breakout hits like her first solo single “Come & Get It” as well as “Good for You” and “Hands to Myself”. Endorsement contracts with Pantene, Louis Vuitton, Neo by Adidas, and Coca Cola also elevated her international celebrity profile.
As far as her love life is concerned, Gomez has been publicly linked to some of the biggest male popstars in the world, including Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers and Justin Bieber. However, her relationship with Abel Tesfaye – otherwise known as The Weeknd – was one of the most watched and photographed in the world. Although it is clear from interviews that Gomez, regardless of who she’s in a relationship with, does not define herself by it (which is pretty refreshing if you ask us).
When it comes to philanthropy, Gomez has proven to have a heart of gold. At the age of 17, she became the youngest ever ambassador for UNICEF and embarked on a relief mission to Ghana. Since that eye-opening moment, Gomez has continued her work with the organization. She has also worked with the Puerto Rican charity Island Dog, an initiative benefiting Congolese women called RAISE Hope for the Congo, an environmental organization called Disney’s Friends for Change, and Ryan Seacrest’s personal philanthropic organization.
Gomez has also used her lupus diagnosis to stand up for her health concerns while raising awareness for the chronic inflammatory disease. In a surprise post to Instagram in 2017, Gomez revealed that she had received a kidney transplant due to organ failure caused by lupus and thanked her friend Francia Raisa for the kidney donation that saved her life. She also used the moment to direct her millions of Instagram followers to Lupus Research Alliance to help build awareness for the disease. Her incredible courage and grace throughout her struggles with lupus have only served to increase our admiration for the tenacious young star.
I’m very aware some of my fans had noticed I was laying low for part of the summer and questioning why I wasn’t promoting my new music, which I was extremely proud of. So I found out I needed to get a kidney transplant due to my Lupus and was recovering. It was what I needed to do for my overall health. I honestly look forward to sharing with you, soon my journey through these past several months as I have always wanted to do with you. Until then I want to publicly thank my family and incredible team of doctors for everything they have done for me prior to and post-surgery. And finally, there aren’t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa. She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me. I am incredibly blessed. I love you so much sis. Lupus continues to be very misunderstood but progress is being made. For more information regarding Lupus please go to the Lupus Research Alliance website: www.lupusresearch.org/ -by grace through faith
Despite the severe health issues plaguing her over the past few years, Gomez has also been working to seize hold of her artistic image, crafting nontraditional pop songs that blend a variety of genres together and crossing mainstream aisles to work with artists like Gucci Mane. The subtle styling in music videos “Bad Liar” and “Look at Her Now” – as well as the aesthetics of the videos and songs themselves – have evolved to become more mature and more creatively directed.
Recently, Gomez was tapped to for the all-star ensemble cast of Jim Jarmusch‘s The Dead Don’t Die, which premiered at Cannes Film Festival, and voiced Mavis in the Hotel Transylvania movie and its sequels. These days, Gomez is also on the other side of lens, and was the executive producer responsible for bringing Netflix‘s hit series 13 Reasons Why to life.
She has also elevated her fashion game significantly as of late. Gomez’s strong style means she is often responsible for launching fashion trends or causing sell-outs when it comes to some of the items she wears – call it the “Selena effect”, if you will. For that reason, her brand partnership with Coach was significant, not only because it showcased her design acumen, but also because it caused a huge boost to the brand’s following on social media – its stock prices even went up based off the ambassadorship alone.
Most recently, Gomez has partnered with Puma to help revive the cool kid image of the popular 90s athletic brand. On her birthday today, as she gears up to launch her makeup line Rare Beauty – a brand that values beauty in all shapes and forms – in 2020, you can find more of her inspiring red carpet gowns and onstage outfits in our style gallery, below.