Selena Gomez was born in Grand Prairie, Texas. She is the daughter of former stage actress Amanda "Mandy" Dawn Teefey (née Cornett) and Ricardo Joel Gomez. Her father is of Mexican ancestry, and her mother is of part 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 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, who died two years after Gomez was born. In a 2009 interview with People, Selena 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.
2002–06: Barney & Friends and early work
Selena 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. Selena 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 February 2009, Selena 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, Selena 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 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. She also hosted the 2011 MTV EMAs on November 6, 2011, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where she performed her band's new single "Hit The Lights". In early November, Variety reported that Gomez was in talks to star in the upcoming film Spring Breakers alongside James Franco, Emma Roberts, and Vanessa Hudgens. Selena Gomez confirmed to MTV that she had signed on for the project and that production will begin in early 2012.
2003 Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over
2005 Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial by Fire
2008 Another Cinderella Story
2008 Horton Hears a Who!
2009 Princess Protection Program
2009 Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie
2009 Arthur and the Vengeance of Maltazard
2009 Arthur 3: The War of the Two Worlds
2010 Ramona and Beezus
2011 Monte Carlo
2011 The Muppets
2012 Thirteen Reasons Why
2002–2003 Barney & Friends
2006 Brain Zapped
2006 The Suite Life of Zack & Cody
2007–2008 Hannah Montana
2007–2012 Wizards of Waverly Place
2009 The Suite Life on Deck
2009 Hannah Montana
2009 Sonny With a Chance
2011 So Random!