Her Health Battle, Love Life & Everything in Between: Selena Gomez's Ups and Downs
She got a taste of the entertainment industry as a child actor on Barney & Friends — also starring Demi Lovato! — but Gomez scored her breakout role on Wizards of Waverly Place, in which she played protagonist Alex Russo, a normal teen who just so happens to have magical abilities. The show, which aired from 2007 to 2012, presented a series of big screen opportunities for the actress, who went on to star in 2011's Monte Carlo and 2012's Spring Breakers.
Gomez and Justin Bieber were first spotted together in 2010 at a Philadelphia IHOP before going public as a couple at the Vanity Fair Oscars Party in February 2011. The pair would go on to embark on an epic on-again, off-again relationship that spanned almost a decade. "We grew up together. We both made mistakes. That's it," Gomez told Refinery29 in 2015 of their split.
FEELING THE MUSIC
After establishing a die-hard fan base thanks to her role in Wizards, Gomez decided to delve into music with her own band, The Scene. Through the years, the group spawned hits like "Naturally" and "Love You Like a Love Song" before announcing they were going on hiatus in 2012. The actress-singer launched her solo career shortly after. "It helped me to have people who were older around me that helped guide me, and inspired me and pushed me," she said during a July 2017 Q&A session with Ask Anything Chat of her experience with The Scene. "And there was a moment when I felt like I could do it and I wanted to try it on my own."
In an attempt to remove herself from her Disney Channel persona, a then-21-year-old Gomez released a sultry music video for her single, "Come & Get It," which ended up earning her her first-ever MTV Video Music Award for best pop video in 2013. "This has been such a great year for me and I wouldn't have done it without you guys, so thank you so much," Gomez said during her acceptance speech.
TAKING TIME OFF
Gomez secretly checked herself into treatment for two weeks in January 2014, which led to a wide-range of rumors of what prompted the powerhouse to do so. "It has become clear to me and those close to me that after many years putting my work first, I need to spend some time on myself in order to be the best person I can be," Gomez, who shocked fans by canceling the Australian leg of her Stars Dance tour the previous month, said in a statement.
In an October 2015 interview with Billboard, Gomez revealed she was undergoing chemotherapy after being diagnosed with lupus. "That's what my break was really about," she said. "I could've had a stroke."
She also addressed those who made assumptions about her hiatus, adding, "I wanted so badly to say, 'You guys have no idea. I'm in chemotherapy. You're ass—–.' I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again."
In August 2016, Gomez's ex Justin Bieber threatened to leave Instagram after his rumored relationship with Sofia Richie was met with criticism from fans. "I'm gonna make my Instagram private if you guys don't stop the hate," Bieber captioned a black-and-white photo with the model. "This is getting out of hand, if you guys are really fans you wouldn't be so mean to people that I like."
Gomez quickly weighed in with her own bit of advice. "If you can't handle the hate, then stop posting pictures of your girlfriend lol – It should be special between you two only," she commented on his post. "Don't be mad at your fans. They love you and supported you before any one ever did." Bieber responded: "It's funny to see people that used me for attention and still try to point the finger this way." The back-and-forth didn't last long, however. Gomez eventually took to her Snapchat to apologize for her initial comment.
A MUCH-NEEDED BREAK
In August 2016, Gomez exclusively told PEOPLE she was stepping away from the spotlight to "focus on maintaining my health and happiness" after suffering from "anxiety, panic attacks and depression" as side effects of lupus.
The star made her big return to the limelight in November 2016 at the American Music Awards, where she took home the award for favorite pop/rock female artist. "… I think it's safe to say most of you know my life whether I liked it or not. And I had to stop. Because I had everything. And I was absolutely broken inside," Gomez said in her candid acceptance speech. "I kept it all together enough to where I would never let you down, but I kept it too much together to where I let myself down." She added: "I'm not trying to get validation, nor do I need it anymore."
THE TOP SPOT
Bow down! In 2016, it was announced Gomez was the most-followed person on Instagram. (She continues to reign supreme on the social outlet, taking home the honor once more in 2017.)
NEW YEAR, NEW LOVE
Talk about a happy new year! In January 2017, Gomez and The Weeknd were spotted together for the first time, kicking off a whirlwind romance that would span 10 months. They made their red carpet debut at the Met Gala that May. "Something that I'm really proud of is that there’s such a true friendship [between me and The Weeknd]," Gomez told Billboard in November 2017 following the couple's split. "I truly have never experienced anything like that in my life. We ended it as best friends, and it was genuinely about encouraging and caring [for each other], and that was pretty remarkable for me."
After a brief hiatus, Gomez took to Instagram in September 2017 to reveal she had undergone a kidney transplant due to complications from her lupus diagnosis. Her best friend, actress Francia Raisa, donated a kidney to the singer. "They said I would be needing a kidney transplant … Maybe I wasn't necessarily really good at knowing what that meant so it actually got to a point where it was life-or-death," Gomez said at the Lupus Research Alliance Annual Gala two months after revealing the news. "Thankfully, one of my best friends gave me her kidney and it was the ultimate gift of life. And I am doing quite well now."
The Revival singer's single status didn't last long following her split from The Weeknd: She was spotted hanging with ex Justin Bieber immediately after the breakup. A source told PEOPLE they "have learned from past mistakes and are not putting any pressure on each other." The insider added: "Things are much different and more mature."
WOMAN OF THE YEAR
In November 2017, Gomez received the top honor at Billboard's Women in Music event, taking home the Woman of the Year Award. "I think Francia should be getting this award," Gomez said while accepting the award, breaking down in tears. "She saved my life… I feel incredibly lucky."
"Honestly, I couldn't be more grateful for the position that I've been given in my career from 7 to 14 to now. I want people to know that I respect the platform that I have so deeply because I knew that I wanted to be a part of something great, I wanted people to feel great," Gomez said in her speech.
After being named the most-followed person on Instagram for the second year in a row, Gomez made her account private in December 2017. Though it's unclear exactly why she took the step of hiding her photos from everyone but the 130 million people that already follow her, she may have offered a clue via a now-deleted Instagram Story.
In screenshots apparently taken from her account, Gomez shared a portion of her recent Billboard cover story overlaid with the text, "Never will I let another human guess my words ever again. Or invite them in my home. That is so hurtful. The most 'ridiculous' part of that is no one knowing my heart when I say things."
The move was short-lived, however: the singer-actress made her Instagram account public a day later.