Selena Marie Gomez (born July 22, 1992) is an American actress and singer 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 three RIAA Platinum certified singles, "Naturally", "Who Says" and "Love You Like a Love Song". 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.
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. (Selena Gomez also found out that she wanted to be an actress because in E Special she states that "I would also watch my mom on stage do her lines".)
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.
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