Selena Marie Gomez (born July 22, 1992) is an American actress, singer, and businesswoman, best known for portraying Alex Russo in the Emmy Award-winning Disney Channel television series Wizards of Waverly Place. She subsequently ventured into feature films and has starred in the television movies Another Cinderella Story, Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie, and Princess Protection Program. She made her starring theatrical film debut in Ramona and Beezus. Her career has expanded into the music industry; Gomez is the lead singer and founder of the pop band Selena Gomez & the Scene, which has released two RIAA Gold certified studio albums, Kiss & Tell and A Year Without Rain and spawned two RIAA Platinum certified singles, "Naturally" and "Who Says". As of April 2011, the band has sold 1,354,000 albums in the United States. Gomez has also contributed to the soundtracks of Tinker Bell, Another Cinderella Story, Wizards of Waverly Place, and Shake It Up after signing a record deal with Hollywood Records. In 2008, Gomez was designated a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Early life, Gomez was born in Grand Prairie, Texas. She is the daughter of former stage actress Mandy Dawn Teefey (née Cornett) and Ricardo Joel Gomez. Her father is Mexican American and her mother is of half Italian descent. Regarding her Hispanic heritage, Gomez said: "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. In 2006, Mandy remarried Brian Teefey. She is named after Tejano singer Selena. 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. She earned a high school diploma through homeschooling in May 2010. Acting career, 2002-06: Barney & Friends and early work: Gomez began her acting career at age seven, playing Gianna on Barney & Friends. She later had minor roles in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over and the TV film Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial By Fire. Gomez also starred in the television movie Brain Zapped. In 2004, Gomez was discovered by the Disney Channel in a USA-wide scouting. Gomez appeared as a guest star on The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and had a guest appearance - that later turned into a recurring role - on Hannah Montana from seasons two to three. Gomez previously taped two different pilots that were spin-offs to two previous Disney series. The first one, What's Stevie Thinking?, was the spin-off to Lizzie McGuire. Gomez played Stevie Sanchez, Miranda Sanchez's little sister. The other show was titled Arwin!, the spin-off to The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, in which she played Alexa. Neither series was picked up. 2007-09: Wizards of Waverly Place: In early 2007 Gomez was cast in the Disney Channel series Wizards of Waverly Place as one of the three main characters, Alex Russo. The show premiered to an audience of 5.9 million, becoming a hit. Many news outlets began dubbing Gomez the next 'Miley Cyrus' causing some controversy and a reported 'feud'. Gomez clarified that there was no feud and that she was flattered by the comparison, saying: "It's a little overwhelming, but I think really, it's a compliment. She's obviously extremely successful, and I think she's a wonderful performer ... So being compared to her, I was very, very flattered." In 2008, Gomez appeared in Another Cinderella Story, the direct-to-DVD sequel to the 2004 Hilary Duff film, opposite Drew Seeley. 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, Lacey Rose, of Forbes ranked Gomez as being fifth on their "Eight Hot Kid Stars To Watch" list; and Rose described Gomez as having been "a multitalented teen". In February 2009, Gomez signed on to star as one of the two female leads in Ramona and Beezus, a film adaption of the children's novel series by Beverly Cleary. Gomez stated that she felt no pressure in taking more adult roles: "I think I'm fully aware of my audience and I'm still just a kid myself. I wouldn't do a role I don't feel comfortable doing or that my audience wouldn't feel comfortable seeing." In June 2009, Gomez did a guest appearance as herself in one episode of best friend Demi Lovato's Disney Channel television show, Sonny with a Chance, entitled "Battle of The Network Stars". That same month Gomez appeared alongside Lovato in the made-for-television Disney Channel movie, Princess Protection Program. The telecast garnered 8.5 million viewers becoming, at the time, the third most watched Disney Channel Original Movie. One month later, Gomez, along with two cast members of Wizards of Waverly Place appeared in a television three-way cross-over episode with Hannah Montana and The Suite Life on Deck, entitled Wizards on Deck with Hannah Montana. On August 28, two months after appearing in Princess Protection Program, Gomez starred in Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie, a made-for-television film based on the show. The film premiered to an audience of 11.4 million viewers becoming cable's No. 1 scripted telecast of 2009 and Disney Channel's second most-viewed film premiere after High School Musical 2. In 2010, the film adaptation won Wizards of Waverly Place its second consecutive Emmy for "Outstanding Children's Program" at the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards over its television series counterpart which had won in the same category at the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards. 2010-present: Focus on film: Gomez's first theatrical film Ramona & Beezus premiered on July 23, 2010 and met with generally positive reviews. In March 2010, Variety reported that Gomez was set to star as one of the three lead roles in Monte Carlo, alongside Leighton Meester and Katie Cassidy. In the film Gomez plays Grace, a girl who's "mistaken for a socialite while on a trip to Paris." To prepare for the role Gomez learned how to play polo and also took two weeks of vocal training to learn two different British accents. The same year Gomez confirmed that the fourth season of her hit Disney Channel show, Wizards of Waverly Place, would be its last. In February 2011, Deadline.com reported that Universal Pictures and Strike Entertainment had acquired the novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher with Gomez attached to the lead. That same month TV Guide reported that Gomez would make a cameo in the upcoming Muppets film. Production for the final season of Wizards of Waverly Place came to a wrap on May 14, 2011. Gomez co-hosted the 2011 MuchMusic Video Awards on June 19. Music career, 2009: Solo career: "Tell Me Something I Don't Know" (2008)Gomez's first song to chart on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Problems listening to this file? See media help. In 2008, Gomez recorded a cover of "Cruella de Vil"--which included a music video--for the compilation album DisneyMania 6. Gomez recorded three songs for the Another Cinderella Story soundtrack, which Gomez appears in. Gomez also recorded "Fly to Your Heart" for the 2008 animated film Tinker Bell. In July 2008, before Gomez' sixteenth birthday, she signed a recording deal with Hollywood Records, a music label owned by Disney. In 2009, Gomez recorded "One and the Same" for Princess Protection Program as a duet with her co-star Lovato. Gomez recorded four songs, one of which was a cover, for the Wizards of Waverly Place soundtrack, only one single (Magic) from the album was released. In May, of the same year, Gomez was featured, with Forever the Sickest Kids, on a duet version of the non-album song "Whoa Oh!". 2009-present: Selena Gomez & the Scene: Formed in 2009, Selena Gomez & the Scene (aka Selena & The Scene) is a teen pop band which consists of Selena Gomez on vocals, Ethan Roberts on guitar, Joey Clement on bass, Greg Garman on drums and Dane Forrest on keyboards. Kiss & Tell is the band's debut studio album and was released on September 29, 2009 by Hollywood Records. On March 5, 2010, the album was certified Gold by RIAA. The album's single, "Naturally", was certified Platinum by the RIAA on July 15, 2010. The band's second album A Year Without Rain was released on September 17, 2010. The record debuted on the Billboard 200 at number 4, selling 66,000 copies. On January 19, 2011, the album was certified Gold by RIAA. The band's third album When the Sun Goes Down, previously titled Otherside, released on June 28, 2011. The album debuted at Number 4 on the Billboard 200, selling 78,000 copies its first week, becoming their highest sales week ever. The following week the album rose to Number 3 on the Billboard chart and became the band's highest charting album yet. The album's lead single, "Who Says" was certified Platinum by RIAA on June 23, 2011 and has become the bands highest charting song on Billboard to date peaking at number 21. Other projects, Philanthropy: Gomez was involved in the UR Votes Count campaign which encouraged teenagers to learn more about 2008 presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain. 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 got involved while filming Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie in Puerto Rico. Gomez is a spokesperson for State Farm Insurance, and is featured in their TV commercials; which air on the Disney Channel, to raise awareness of being a safe driver. Gomez is also involved with the charity RAISE Hope For Congo, an initiative of the Enough Project, which helps raise awareness about conflict minerals and violence against Congolese women. In October 2008, Gomez was named UNICEF's spokesperson for the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF 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 difference in the world." In August 2009, a 17-year-old Gomez became the youngest UNICEF ambassador ever, passing fellow songstress Hayley Westenra, who was 18 when she was chosen. In her first official field mission, Gomez traveled to Ghana on September 4, 2009 for a week to witness first-hand the stark conditions of vulnerable children that lack vital necessities including clean water, nourishment, education and healthcare. Gomez explained during an interview with Associated Press that she wanted to use her star power to bring awareness to Ghana: "That's why I feel very honored to have a voice that kids listen to and take into consideration ... I had people on my tour asking me where IS Ghana, and they Googled it ... and because I went there, they now know where Ghana is. So it's pretty incredible." Gomez said of her role as ambassador that: "Every day 25,000 children die from preventable causes. I stand with UNICEF in the belief that we can change that number from 25,000 to zero. I know we can achieve this because every moment, UNICEF is on the ground providing children with the lifesaving assistance needed to ensure zero becomes a reality." Gomez was named spokesperson for UNICEF's 2009 Trick-or-Treat campaign, for the second year in a row. Gomez, who raised over $700,000 for the charity in 2008, stated that she hopes to be able to raise 1 million dollars in 2009. Gomez participated in a celebrity auction and hosted a live web cast series on Facebook in support of the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF campaign. Gomez returned as the UNICEF spokesperson for the 60th anniversary of Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF campaign in 2010. In celebration of the 60th anniversary, Gomez and her band, The Scene, held a benefit concert donating all proceeds to the campaign. n February 2011, Gomez traveled to Chile to witness and meet with the families of UNICEF's supported program, "Programa Puente" which helps families better understand and develops skills to deal effectively with early childhood education, development and other issues related to raising children. From her field trip experience, Gomez said "UNICEF is helping Chilean families get out of poverty, prevent violence within the home and promote education. To witness first hand these families' struggles, and also their hope and perseverance, was truly inspiring." In March 2011, Gomez participated in the UNICEF Tap Project's "Celebrity Tap Pack," limited-edition, custom-made water bottles featuring tap water from the homes of each celebrity advocate, in order to raise funds and increase profile for the clean water and sanitation programs. She is also featured in videos promoting the campaign. Gomez is involved in Disney's Friends for Change, an organization which promotes "environmently-friendly behavior", and appears in its public service announcements. Gomez, Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, and the Jonas Brothers recorded "Send It On", a charity single with all of its proceeds to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. It debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 20. Also in 2009, Gomez made a surprise visit to a Los Angeles elementary school as part of the "A Day Made Better" program that was sponsored by OfficeMax. During her visit, Gomez gave the school an award and $1,000 worth of school supplies, and talked to students about the importance of giving back to the community. Gomez is also the owner of five rescue dogs and describes herself as a "huge animal-lover". Entrepreneurship and sponsorships: Gomez was part of Sears back-to-school fashion ad campaign. As part of the campaign Gomez was featured in the television commercials. In August 2009, Gomez also hosted the "Sears Arrive Air Band Casting Call" - to select five people for the first-ever "Sears Air Band", which performed at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. In October 2008, Gomez launched her own production company, July Moon Productions, and partnered with XYZ Films to create star vehicles for Gomez. As part of the agreement Gomez will have the opportunity to be able option articles, hire writers and create talent packages to shop to studios. Also, as part of the deal, "XYZ Films will allow Gomez to star in and produce at least two films.Variety reported that: "In August, XYZ Films inked a similar deal with Time Inc. and management-production company the Collective to finance the development of the print media giant's content for the bigscreen ... As part of the July Moon-XYZ deal, Selena Gomez will have the ability to cherry-pick projects from the vast Time Inc. library, which includes Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Life." In October 2009, Gomez announced her plan to launch her own fashion line, called "Dream Out Loud by Selena Gomez". The clothing line launched in the fall of 2010. The collection consists of and features bohemian dresses, floral tops, jeans, skirts, jackets, scarves and hats, all made from recycled or eco-friendly materials. Gomez said that the line will reflect her own personal style and described the clothing as being "pretty, feminine, and bohemian," and: "With my line, I really want to give the customer options on how they can put their own looks together ... I want the pieces that can be easy to dress up or down, and the fabrics being eco-friendly and organic is super important ... Also, the tags will all have some of my inspirational quotes on them. I'm just looking to send a good message." Gomez, who has no background in fashion, teamed up with designers Tony Melillo and Sandra Campos, both who have worked with big-name fashion houses. Gomez said of the partnering: "When I met Tony and Sandra, I was instantly comfortable with them and now they are just like family to me ... They are so creative and I love how I can just call them up whenever and talk to them about everything, even if it's just about changing a button ... They've been so cool about everything." The brand will be manufactured by, Melillo and Campos teamed with New York-based Adjmi Apparel and formed by Adjmi CH Brands LLC; which is the holding company for the brand. It was announced on July 14, 2011, that Gomez had signed a license agreement with Adrenalina, an extreme sports and adventure-themed lifestyle brand, to develop, manufacture, and distribute the actress' fragrance. It is expected to debut in the spring of 2012. Chairman and C.E.O. of Adrenalina, Ilia Lekach, said, "We are incredibly enthused to be working with Ms. Gomez and will reveal more details pertaining to the fragrance as we get closer to the launch date." Filmography, Film: YearTitleRoleNotes 2003 Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over Waterpark Girl Minor role 2005 Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial by Fire Julie Television movie 2008 Another Cinderella Story Mary Santiago Direct-to-video, Main role 2008 Horton Hears a Who! Helga (Voice) 2009 Princess Protection Program Carter Mason Disney Channel Original Movie, Main role 2009 Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie Alex Russo Disney Channel Original Movie, Main role 2009 Arthur and the Vengeance of Maltazard Princess Selenia (Voice), (Replaced Madonna) 2009 Arthur 3: The War of the Two Worlds Princess Selenia (Voice) 2010 Ramona and Beezus Beatrice "Beezus" Quimby Main role 2011 Monte Carlo Grace Bennett/Cordelia Winthrop Scott Main role 2011 The Muppets Herself Cameo appearance 2012 Thirteen Reasons Why Hannah Baker Main Role Television: YearTitleRoleNotes 2002-2003 Barney & Friends Gianna Recurring role 2006 Brain Zapped Emily Grace Garcia Only Pilot was made 2006 The Suite Life of Zack & Cody Gwen "A Midsummer's Nightmare" (Season 2, episode 22) 2007-2008 Hannah Montana Mikayla "I Want You to Want Me... to Go to Florida" (Season 2, episode 13), "That's What Friends Are For?" (Season 2, episode 18), "(We're So Sorry) Uncle Earl" (Season 2, episode 22) (uncredited) 2007-present Wizards of Waverly Place Alex Russo Lead role 2009 The Suite Life on Deck Alex Russo "Double-Crossed" (Season 1, episode 21) 2009 Sonny With a Chance Herself "Battle of the Networks' Stars" (Season 1, episode 13) 2011 So Random! Herself Musical guest singing "Who Says" 2011 PrankStars Herself Guest Star Music videos: YearTitleArtistNotes 2008 "Burnin' Up" Jonas Brothers Played Nick Jonas' love interest 2011 "The Dance Routine" The Midnight Beast Cameo