Selena Marie Gomez (born July 22, 1992) is an American actress and singer best known for portraying Alex Russo, the protagonist in the Emmy Award-winning 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 three RIAA Gold certified studio albums, Kiss & Tell, A Year Without Rain, and When the Sun Goes Down, spawned three RIAA Platinum certified singles, "Naturally", "Who Says" and "Love You Like a Love Song" and charted four No. 1 Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs. 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 was born in Grand Prairie, Texas. She is the daughter of former stage actress Amanda Dawn "Mandy" 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 [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 was named after Tejanosinger Selena, who died almost three years after Gomez was born. 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. 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 Montanafrom 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.
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