Selena Gomez's Inspiring 2020, from Launching a Beauty Empire to Using Her Massive Platform for Good

She Earned Her 3rd No. 1 Album with Rare

Gomez, 28, kicked off 2020 with the release of her highly anticipated third album Rare. It was her first album since 2015’s Revival, which went platinum. 

“Every song on the record has some sort of emotion or conflict or there’s something going on,” she told PEOPLE exclusively before the album dropped. “I related to everything on this record very, very clearly.”

Gomez hopes Rare helps her fans feel less alone as they go through similar life experiences.

“I wanted this to be theirs. I wanted it to be however [my fans] take it,” she said. “I want them to make it their own, and of course all I would want is for people to relate to it.”

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She Launched Rare Beauty …

The star expanded her Rare brand from music to beauty when she announced in February that she would be launching a new makeup brand, Rare Beauty. The newly launched Rare Beauty Instagram account gained more than 1 million followers just 20 minutes after the announcement was made. The project, which took two years to develop, hit Sephora stores all over North America on Sept. 3.

Rare Beauty not only provides “makeup made to feel good in” for a vast range of skin tones (there are 48 different shades for both foundation and concealer), Gomez said, it also promises to foster conversations about self-acceptance and mental health.

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… Then Introduced the Rare Impact Fund

Along with her beauty line, Gomez announced the Rare Impact Fund, with the goal of raising $100 million over the next 10 years to connect people in underserved communities with much-needed mental health services.

“Since the brand’s inception, we wanted to find a way to give back to our community and further support people who needed access to mental health services, which have had a profound impact on my life,” Gomez said in a press release.

One percent of all Rare Beauty sales — as well as funds raised from partnerships with leading foundations, companies and nonprofit organizations — will be donated to the Rare Impact Found to provide tools, resources and support to those struggling with their mental health.

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She Fostered a Puppy During the Pandemic

While hunkering down at home during the coronavirus pandemic, the singer decided to foster a puppy named Daisy.

“Winnie and Daisy are getting along very well,” Gomez said during an Instagram Live in March, referring to her other dog and her new foster companion.

“I know a few friends that are fostering right now just to give animals a safe place … I couldn’t help it, I have to keep her,” she added.

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She Asked You to Fill Out the 2020 Census

The star — along with Tom Hanks, Janelle Monáe, Megan Rapinoe, Faith Hill and Liza Koshy — teamed up with ATTN: and Census Counts in April to urge fans and the American people to fill out this year’s census.

“The 2020 Census could be the most important in our lifetimes,” Hanks started in the public service announcement video.

Monáe and Koshy then added, “It will decide how over $650 billion dollars are distributed to local communities across the country. That includes where money is distributed for things like healthcare, public schools and food stamps.”

“It’s safe, easy and it’s important,” Gomez said next, before Hill chimed in, “The census affects us all.”

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She Had Inspiring Black Leaders Take Over Her Instagram Ahead of Juneteenth

Amid nationwide protests over police brutality and systemic racism sparked by the death of George Floyd, Gomez decided to use her platform (she has 195 million Instagram followers) in June to amplify the voices of 12 influential Black leaders to help educate her fans on the history of social, political and economic discrimination against Black communities.

The star turned her account over to Alicia Garza, one of the co-creators of Black Lives Matter; Jelani Cobb, a writer, author, and professor; Kimberlé Crenshaw, a civil rights advocate, lawyer and professor; Sarah Elizabeth Lewis, an author and professor; Ibram X. Kendi, a historian of racism and author; Michael Render (a.k.a. Killer Mike), an activist and Grammy Award-winning rapper; Nelini Stamp, the director of strategy for Working Families; Kendrick Sampson, an actor and activist; Raquel Willis, an activist and media strategist; Ruby Bridges, a civil rights activist and author; Brittany Packnett Cunnigham, an educator, organizer and writer; and Stacey Abrams of Georgia, the first Black woman to become the gubernatorial nominee for a major party in the United States.

All of their conversations remain available to view on Gomez’s Instagram Story highlights.

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She Brought Fans into Her Kitchen on HBO Max’s Selena + Chef

Her new cooking show, Selena + Chef, follows Gomez as she brushes up on her cooking skills while staying at home. The 10-episode series debuted on Aug. 13 and shows Gomez in self-isolation as she tries her hand at new recipes across a variety of cuisines. A different master chef joins her remotely each time to walk her through each dish and share invaluable tips and tricks.

Each episode also highlights a different food-related charity.

Gomez executive produced the series, collaborating again with Eli Holzman and Aaron Saidman (the three executive produced last year’s Netflix docuseries Living Undocumented).

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She Reunited with Wizards Costar David Henrie for a New Project

Though fans are still holding out for a Wizards of Waverly Place reboot — which Gomez and Henrie are totally down for — the two former costars announced their collaboration on This Is the Year, a coming of age story starring Vanessa Marano, Lorenzo James Henrie, Alyssa Jirrels, Jake Short and Bug Hall.

The film is Henrie’s directorial feature debut and Gomez serves as executive producer. 

On what it was like reuniting with his former TV sister, Henrie told Insider, “She was just going, ‘David, do you believe we’re here right now? Are we on Disney? Are we back in 2009 or is it 2020? What’s going on?’ “

Henrie added, “We were constantly joking about that and literally at some point, we were like, ‘Oh I miss this!’ “

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She Collaborated with BLACKPINK on Smash Hit “Ice Cream”

Girl group BLACKPINK recruited Gomez to feature on their sweet summer single “Ice Cream,” which now has more than 422 million streams on YouTube.

In a teaser video from August, the girls of BLACKPINK — Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé and Lisa — and Gomez got together on video chat to talk about their excitement and being fans of each other.

“We’re really glad that you’re on it because we’ve been a big fan of you for a long time,” Rosé told Gomez in the clip.

“I’m so stoked,” Gomez said. “I’ve been a fan of you guys so this is a big, big dream for me.”

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She Bared Her Kidney Transplant Scar with Pride

In September, Gomez posted an Instagram photo of herself modeling a blue one-piece and shared that she finally feels confident enough to show the scar she received from an emergency follow-up procedure after her kidney transplant in 2017.

“When I got my kidney transplant, I remember it being very difficult at first showing my scar. I didn’t want it to be in photos, so I wore things that would cover it up,” she wrote. “Now, more than ever, I feel confident in who I am and what I went through…and I’m proud of that.”

“…all bodies are beautiful,” she added.

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She Helped Get Out the Vote for the 2020 Election

Ahead of Election Day, Gomez revealed that this was her first time voting and that she felt compelled to get more involved and educated about the issues plaguing the country, writing at the time, “There is too much on the line this election for anyone to sit on the sidelines.”

The star not only shared a series of photos of herself voting early to encourage her fans to do the same, she also joined politician Stacey Abrams for a special conversation that was part of the Latinas Make A Difference Tour, participated in Voting Power Hour and sat down with now Vice President Elect Kamala Harris to discuss voting, lupus and mental health.

Gomez has been open about her “mental health journey,” revealing earlier this year that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

“It should be something people can understand and break down because I truly know that this is something that’s important,” she said. “And important to me.”

Harris agreed, saying that the country has “a lot of work to do.”

“It’s something I care deeply about, and I look forward to working with you on it,” she added.

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Watch the full episode of People of the Year: Selena Gomez streaming now on PeopleTV.com, or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite device. And pick up PEOPLE’s year-end double issue — featuring Gomez’s fellow People of the Year George Clooney, Regina King and Dr. Anthony Fauci — on newsstands Friday.

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