Selena Marie Gomez (born July 22, 1992) is an American actress, voice artist, singer and musician. Gomez first made her debut appearing as Gianna in Barney & Friends, lasting from 2002 to 2004. Following this, Gomez had cameo roles in films such as Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003) and Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial by Fire (2005). In 2006, Gomez appeared as a guest star on an episode of the Disney Channel series The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, as well as Hannah Montana. Following this, Gomez starred in the Disney Channel television series Wizards of Waverly Place. The series was a critical and commercial success, earning Gomez numerous awards and nominations. Gomez later appeared in numerous Disney Channel series and films including Jonas Brothers: Living the Dream (2008) and Disney Channel Games (2008). In 2009, Gomez appeared in the films Princess Protection Program and Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie before releasing her first studio album as Selena Gomez & the Scene, titled Kiss & Tell. The album was a commercial success, peaking inside the Top 10 of the Billboard 200.
Following this, Gomez appeared in the film Ramona and Beezus, one of her first roles outside of Disney. Gomez & the Scene released their second studio album, A Year Without Rain, later that year. The album entered the Top 5 of the Billboard200, and spawned two Top 40 hits. In 2011, Gomez gained much publicity when it was confirmed that she was in a relationship with teenage pop star Justin Bieber. The couple was dubbed "Jelena" by the media, and were noted as being a teen power couple. Gomez began appearing in more films such as Monte Carlo (2011) and The Muppets (2011). Gomez, along with her band, later released their third studio album When the Sun Goes Down in 2011. The album spawned the hit single "Love You Like a Love Song", which was certified 4× Platinum by the RIAA. Following the release of the album, Gomez confirmed she would be taking a musical hiatus to focus on her acting career. She then went on to appear in the films Hotel Transylvania (2012) and Spring Breakers (2013), the latter of which saw Gomez portraying a more adult role.
Despite her early comments of a musical hiatus, Gomez confirmed in October 2012 that she was working on her solo debut album. The lead single, "Come & Get It", was released in April 2013. It became her first Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and was certified double platinum by the RIAA. The album's second single, "Slow Down", was released in June. Gomez has since announced plans of a second musical hiatus following the release of Stars Dance in July. Outside of her work in the entertainment industry, Gomez is involved in philanthropic activities through charity work and various social and environmental causes.
1992–2006: Early life and career beginnings
Gomez was born in Grand Prairie, Texas. She is the daughter of former stage actress Amanda Dawn "Mandy" Teefey (née Cornett) and Ricardo Joel Gomez. Gomez was named after Tejano singer Selena, who died almost three years after Gomez was born. Her father is of Mexican ancestry; her mother, who was adopted, has some Italian ancestry. Regarding her Hispanic heritage, Gomez has stated, "My family does have Quinceañeras, and we go to the communion church. We do everything that's Catholic, but we don't really have anything traditional except [that we] go to the park and have barbecues on Sundays after church." Her birth parents divorced when she was five years old, and she was raised as an only child by her working mother, who had her when she was 16. This led to the family having financial troubles, with her mother struggling to provide for them. On the situation, Gomez stated "I remember my mom would run out of gas all of the time and we’d sit there and have to go through the car and get quarters and help her get gas because she never liked to ask my grandparents for money. I remember having a lot of macaroni and cheese but my mom never made it seem like it was a big deal. She was really strong around me. Having me at 16 had to have been a big responsibility. My mom gave up everything for me, had three jobs, supported me, sacrificed her life for me." Gomez later elaborated on the topic, stating "I definitely didn't appreciate it when I was little. I was frustrated that my parents weren't together, and never saw the light at the end of the tunnel where my mom was working hard to provide a better life for me. I'm terrified of what I would have become if I'd stayed [in Texas]." In 2006, Mandy married her second husband, Brian Teefey. Through her mother's marriage to Teefey, Gomez has a half-sister, Gracie Elliot, born on June 12, 2013.
While attending school as a child, Gomez has stated on numerous occasions that she was the victim of bullying. When speaking of the situation, Gomez said "I was bullied every second of every day in elementary and middle school [...] Obviously, people are going to bring you down because of your drive. But, ultimately, it makes you a stronger person to turn your cheek and go the other way." She later added "I was never the popular kid at school. I had two friends, but I just sat at the back of the room and got on with my work. School is such an awkward time in your life. I was never confident in school." In a 2009 interview with People, Gomez mentioned that she developed an early interest in acting from watching her mother prepare for and act in theater productions. While at an audition, Gomez met Demi Lovato, who was auditioning for the same series. The two later became best friends, and would later participate in various roles together. She earned a high school diploma through homeschooling in May 2010. Gomez officially earned her first role in 2002 when she was selected to appear on the children's television series Barney and Friends as the recurring character Gianna. She appeared in a total of sixteen episodes, with her final appearance being in 2004. Gomez later stated that her age had led to her departure from the show, with producers feeling she was getting too old. In 2003, Gomez made a cameo in the filmSpy Kids 3-D: Game Over, making it her film debut. Following this, Gomez began appearing in various commercials. In 2005, she had a cameo role in the television film Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial by Fire as Julie. Gomez later guest starred in an episode of the Disney Channel series The Suite Life of Zack & Cody in 2006.