Selena Marie Gomez (born July 22, 1992) is an American actress and singer, best known for her portrayal of Alex Russo on the Disney Channel sitcom, Wizards of Waverly Place. She has starred in the television movies, Another Cinderella Story and Princess Protection Program.
In the early 2000s, Gomez had a recurring role on Barney & Friends. In 2004, she was discovered in a nationwide talent search by Disney Channel and appeared in two Disney shows before landing one of the starring roles in Wizards of Waverly Place. In 2008, she signed a record deal with Hollywood Records and contributed to the soundtracks of Tinker Bell and Another Cinderella Story. In 2009, she recorded four songs for the Wizards soundtrack and two duets - "One and the Same" for Princess Protection Program with Demi Lovato and "Whoa Oh!" with Forever the Sickest Kids.
Gomez, an only child, was born in Grand Prairie, Texas to Ricardo Gomez and Mandy Teefy (née Cornett), a former stage actress who was 16 when she gave birth to Gomez. Her birth parents separated when she was five years old; her mother remarried in 2006 to Brian Teefy. Gomez was named after singer Selena. Her father is from Mexico, and she has Italian ancestry on her mother's side.
Gomez began her acting career at age seven, playing Gianna on Barney & Friends. She said that she learned "everything" about how to act while on the show. She later had minor roles in Game Over and the TV film Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial By Fire.
In 2004, Gomez was discovered by the Disney Channel in a nation wide scouting. She appeared as a guest star on The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and Hannah Montana before being cast in Wizards of Waverly Place as one of the main characters, Alex Russo. She also appears in the 2009 Disney Channel movie based on the show.
In 2008, Gomez appeared in Another Cinderella Story, the direct-to-DVD sequel to the 2004 Hilary Duff film, opposite Drew Seeley. In its January 2009 television debut on ABC Family, it drew 5.3 million viewers and was ranked as the month's number one cable movie across all key demographics. She also had a minor voiceover role as one the Mayor's ninety-six daughters in Horton Hears a Who! which released in March of that year. In April, Forbes listed Gomez as one of its "Eight Hot Kid Stars To Watch." In October, she launched a production company, July Moon Productions, and teamed with XYZ Films to create star vehicles for her.
In 2009, she appeared in the Disney Channel movie, Princess Protection Program with Demi Lovato. The film drew 8.5 million viewers on its premiere night, the third-highest premiere for a Disney Channel Original Movie.
In 2008, Gomez recorded a cover of "Cruella de Vil" for DisneyMania 6, three songs for the Another Cinderella Story soundtrack, and "Fly to Your Heart" for the animated film Tinker Bell. In July 2008, she signed a record deal with Hollywood Records. She also had a cameo in the Jonas Brothers music video for "Burnin' Up".
In 2009, Gomez recorded "One and the Same" for Princess Protection Program as a duet with her co-star Demi Lovato, four songs for the Wizards of Waverly Place soundtrack, and "Whoa Oh!" with Forever the Sickest Kids. Gomez's debut studio album, Kiss and Tell will be released in September 2009.
Gomez was involved in the UR Votes Count campaign which helped encourage teenagers learn more about their 2008 Presidential candidates (Barack Obama and John McCain). In October 2008, Gomez was named a spokesperson for UNICEF's 2008 Trick-or-Treat campaign, which encouraged children to raise money on Halloween to help children around the world. She said that she was "extremely excited" to "encourage other kids to make a different in the world." In October 2008, Gomez participated in St. Jude's Children's Hospital "Runway For Life" benefit. Gomez is a spokesperson for Borden Milk; she is featured in the campaign's print and television ads. She is the ambassador of DoSomething.org after being involved with the charity Island Dog, which help dogs in Puerto Rico. She was featured in State Farm Insurance's TV commercials. Gomez is also involved with the charity RAISE Hope For Congo. Gomez is involved in Disney's Friends for Change and a Disney Channel commercial that raised awareness for the cause. She recorded "Send it On" with several other Disney stars for the charity.
Gomez is a Christian and began wearing a purity ring with "true love waits" engraved when she was 12 years old. She has four dogs.
She is best friends with Demi Lovato, whom she has known since they met at a Barney & Friends audition. After the two posted a video blog on YouTube in March 2008, Miley Cyrus and her friend Mandy Jiroux uploaded a parody of that video, which caught the interest of entertainment media. Reports included the theory that Gomez and Cyrus were arguing over Nick Jonas, or that Gomez and Lovato might replace Cyrus.