Selena Marie Gomez (born July 22, 1992) is an American actress, singer, and entrepreneur, 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 and Wizards of Waverly Place 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 Mandy Teefey (née Cornett) and Ricardo Joel Gomez. Her father is Mexican American and her mother is of 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 barbeques 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.