Singer and actress Selena Gomez was born in Grand Prairie, Texas. Her father is Mexican-American, and she is named after famed Tejano singer Selena. Selena started her career early with a two-year stint on Barney from 2002-2004. “I was very shy when I was little,” she told People. “I didn’t know what ‘camera right’ was. I didn’t know what blocking was. I learned everything from Barney.”
After Barney, the young actress made appearances on Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial by Fire, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and Hannah Montana, before landing the part of teen witch Alex on Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place in 2007. The show and Selena were a hit, and Wizards of Waverly Place ran for five years.
In 2008 Selena made her first animated movie, lending her voice to Helga in Horton Hears a Who! In 2009 she starred opposite her real-life best friend and former Barney co-star Demi Lovato in the Disney original movie Princess Protection Program. “I’ll be honest, I do have to pinch myself occasionally,” Selena told Teen Vogue. “I still can’t believe that everything the two of us have wanted since we were seven is finally coming true.”
In the meantime Selena was growing a music career. She recorded a number of songs for Disney projects, including a cover of “Cruella de Vil” for DisneyMania 6, a song for the movie Tinker Bell and a duet with Demi for the Princess Protection Program. In 2008 she signed a record deal with Hollywood Records and released her debut album, “Kiss and Tell,” in 2009.
After Wizards of Waverly Place ended, Selena continued to pursue both her acting and music careers. She lent her voice to Mavis in Hotel Transylvania, and also broke away from her Disney childhood with movies including Spring Breakers with James Franco, Getaway with Ethan Hawke, and Behaving Badly with Nat Wolff. More albums followed, including 2013’s Stars Dance and 2014’s For You.
Selena is an active philanthropist working with groups including UNICEF, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and RAISE Hope For Congo. Romantically, Selena has been tied to Taylor Lautner, Nick Jonas, Justin Bieber, and Zedd.