After a string of underwhelming covers, is it just me, or does this really work? It’s nice to see Selena Gomez again — she’s been shooting her Hulu show with Steve Martin and Martin Short, and otherwise keeping a low pandemic profile. Considering how long she’s been famous, the quiet period makes her feel like a fresh subject, and the story by Jia Tolentino paints a very likable portrait. I particularly liked the observation that, unlike so many other celebrities, over time Gomez has seemed to soften rather than build a hard shell — as if she started with one and has slowly let it erode, a note I think the cover shot hits very effectively. It’s gently defiant, or defiantly gentle; either way, it matches.

Also, she’s been doing a lot of work I didn’t even know about, like this project:

Gomez has recently spoken about the fact that her paternal grandparents were undocumented. “It wasn’t for any reason that I didn’t share it before,” she says. “It’s just that as I started to see the world for what it is, all these things started to be like light bulbs going off.” […] In 2019, she served as an executive-producer for the Netflix series Living Undocumented. “My goal was to communicate that these people are not ‘aliens’; they’re not whatever names other people have given them. They’re humans—they’re people,” she says.

In short, she seems like a good kid, and I’m REALLY curious to see how her vibe plays off that of Steve and Martin.

[Photos by Nadine Ijewere, story by Jia Tolentino; Vogue’s April 2021 issue is available on newsstands nationwide on March 23rd]