Selena Marie Gomez was born on July 22, 1992 in New York, but grew up an only child in Grand Prairie, TX. Her mother, Mandy Teefy, was a former stage actress who inspired her daughter to pursue a career in entertainment. Gomez's first acting job was "Barney & Friends" (PBS, 1992- ), where she played Gianna, one of the purple dinosaur's singing and dancing sidekicks. It was while auditioning for "Barney" that Gomez met her best friend and co-star Demi Lovato. Years later, Lovato herself became a Disney darling when she was cast in the starring role alongside the Jonas Brothers in the 2008 TV movie "Camp Rock" (Disney Channel). When she was only 10, Gomez attended a Disney nationwide talent search and not surprisingly, the Mouse House fell in love with her instantly. She appeared in an episode of "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" (Disney Channel, 2005-07), followed by a recurring role on the mouse network's hit series "Hannah Montana" (2006-2011). Gomez played Mikayla, a rival pop star to Cyrus' Hannah. Playing enemies on the show as well as in a YouTube video Cyrus posted in 2008 that seemed to mock Gomez (and her friend Lovato) had fans wondering whether the two actresses were feuding in real life. Gomez laughed off the rumor, giving credit to Cyrus as a great entertainer.
Her memorable appearances on the Disney Channel were enough for the network to give Gomez a starring role on the sitcom "Wizards of Waverly Place," a magic-themed family comedy where she was hilarious as middle child Alex Russo. The series also gave the star an opportunity to grow with Disney and they were more than willing to market her as one of the channel's biggest stars. On the music front, Gomez recorded a cover of "Cruella de Vil" for the 2008 DVD release of the original "101 Dalmatians" (1961) as well as the album DisneyMania6 (2008). She also reunited professionally with Lovato in "Princess Protection Program" (Disney Channel, 2009), a movie about a princess who is taken into custody by the titular protection program. Switching back to music once more, Gomez also appeared as youngest brother Nick's onscreen girlfriend in the Jonas Brothers' music video for the song "Burnin' Up" in July 2008. She went on to star in Another Cinderella Story () as a shy, aspiring dancer who falls in love with a pop singer (Drew Seeley). The film was a straight-to-DVD sequel to "A Cinderella Story" (2004), starring Hilary Duff.
In 2009, Gomez formed the teen pop band, Selena Gomez & the Scene, which released its first album Kiss & Tell that same year. She went on to star in the family-friendly Ramona and Beezus (2010); during filming, she began to date Taylor Lautner in Vancouver where he was shooting "Twilight: New Moon" (2009). But their romance lasted only a few months due to incessant media attention. Following a starring appearance in the made-for-TV movie "Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie" (Disney Channel, 2009), her band released their second album, A Year Without Rain (2010), which reached platinum status after topping out at No. 4 on the Billboard 200. From there, she starred opposite Leighton Meester and Katie Cassidy in the Nicole Kidman-produced romantic comedy Monte Carlo (2011). That same year, Selena Gomez & the Scene released their third album, When the Sun Goes Down (2011), which rose all the way to No. 3 on the charts, marking their highest peak to date. Meanwhile, Gomez garnered wild tabloid attention over whether or not she was dating tween music sensation Justin Bieber. Both Gomez and Bieber were hounded by paparazzi while being featured on every supermarket tabloid imaginable until finally the pair stepped out at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in 2011, confirming that they were indeed an item. Over the next year and a half, Gomez and Bieber were the source of constant speculation while becoming something of a power couple of the tween set - though Gomez received more than her fair share of hate mail and death threats from angry Bieber fans.
As she fended off celebrity photographers as best she could, Gomez continued making music and movies, delivering a cameo appearance in "The Muppets" (2011) while seeing her single "Love You Like a Love Song" sell over two million copies, her best-selling single to date. But in 2012, Gomez announced taking a break from music in order to concentrate on films, starting with a voice role in the animated Hotel Transylvania (2012). Meanwhile, her time on "Waverly Place" came to an end in 2012 when the show finally wrapped. In November 2012, it was announced that Gomez and Bieber had ended their relationship, causing widespread panic among those under 15 years old. Though the pair reconciled a month later, their romance came to an end again in January 2013. Back on the big screen, Gomez shed her tween image in a big way by starring in Spring Breakers (2013), Harmony Korine's thriller about four college girls who become mixed up with a drug-dealing gangster (James Franco) while on spring break in Florida. Co-starring Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Kornine, the film garnered attention for its unflinching violence, sexual content and drug use, which raised some eyebrows due to Gomez's (and Hudgens') lifelong Disney affiliation. Premiering at the Venice International Film Festival in 2012, "Spring Breakers" was well received by critics and perhaps marked a new, risk-driven direction for Gomez's career.
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