The Mexican-American-Italian starlet rose to fame after featuring in several Disney television series and films. Doubling up as a singer, philanthropist and actress, Gomez has been at the forefront of the public eye for over a decade now. Despite facing difficulties in childhood, the talented artist has beaten all odds to achieve what her peers haven’t.
Selena was born as Selena Marie Gomez in Grand Prairie, Texas. Her name was an inspiration from the popular singer and actress Selena Quintanilla-Perez and it means ‘moon’ in Greek. Selena’s father Ricardo Joel Gomez married Amanda Dawn Cornett, popularly known as Mandy, who was a singer and an actress. Ricardo is of Mexican descent but Amanda was adopted and lived in the United States although her ancestry was in Italy. The talented singer grew up as a Catholic and she has to-date maintained her religious background.
Amanda gave birth to Gomez when she was only 16-years old, so the family found themselves with financial challenges when raising their little daughter. In fact, Selena’s grandparents had to chip in and take care of her as Mandy and Ricardo completed their schooling. For this reason, Gomez acknowledges her grandparents for playing a vital role in her upbringing. However, Selena’s parents could not go on with the challenges at hand, and they divorced when their daughter was only five-years old. Even then, Selena is always grateful to her mother who worked hard to ensure her daughter had a good life as a child.
After the divorce, Selena remained with her then 21-year old mother. The two struggled amidst poverty and Amanda had to work twice as hard as other parents. Mandy was strong willed and did everything possible to give her daughter a happy life. At one time, the young mother had to juggle between three jobs just to avoid asking for money from Selena’s grandparents. Sadly, Gomez later confessed that although her mother worked really hard, she never appreciated it. She stated, ‘I definitely didn’t appreciate it when I was little. I was frustrated that my parents weren’t together, and never saw the light at the end of the tunnel where my mom was working hard to provide a better life for me.’
Mandy re-married when Selena was a young adolescent of 14 years. Together, Mandy and her second husband Brian Teefey had a daughter who they named Gracie Elliot Teefey. Selena was to have another half sister following this marriage, Scarlet Teefay, but her mother miscarried when the pregnancy was only 16 weeks. Selena’s father also re-married and the relationship brought another step-sister to the talented singer, named Victoria Tori Gomez.
Gomez attended elementary school like most of her neighbors and friends, but her school life wasn’t interesting. She was a victim of bullying most of the time especially because she was not the confident type of kid. However, that never gave her a reason to doubt her capabilities. Selena later home-schooled and graduated with her high school diploma in May 2010.
From her early days, Gomez developed interest in the arts mainly because of watching her mother rehearse for theatre productions and performances. Her mother also assisted her to auditions for different roles, and when she was 7-years old, Selena got her first role in the Barney and Friends series in 2002. Gomez played the role of Gianna for 14 episodes and she is forever grateful that the series gave her a lot of acting experience.
After dropping from the show, she landed roles on Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over as well as the television film Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial by Fire in 2005. Although these roles were quite small, they equipped her with more experience in the acting and film industry, a weapon she really needed to land the bigger roles that awaited her.
As a child actress, Gomez continued auditioning for Disney Channel series with hope that something fulfilling would come by. She first succeeded when she made a guest appearance for one episode on The Suite Life of Zack $ Cody in 2006.
However, the beautiful fashionista’s breakthrough came in 2007 after getting a recurring role on the Hannah Montana series in 2007. She played as Mikayla and her acting talents led to her filming two pilot episodes potential of featuring on Disney channel; Arwin and A Suite Life.
In 2007, she bagged yet another role in Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place. This time, she starred as the lead role, Alex Russo, who was a teenage girl in a family that owned a home in New York yet they were wizards. The show was a great hit and this exposed Gomez to more mainstream success.
Following her popularity as Alex Russo, Selena Gomez made her first animated role in the movie titled Horton Hears a Who in 2008. The movie was a commercial success across the globe and grossed more than $300 million dollars. The same year, she starred in the ABC family film Another Cinderella Story alongside fellow Disney star, Drew Seeley.
Other of Gomez’s Disney performances include Princess Protection Program which had more than 8.5 million viewers across the globe. In 2009, she also starred in Wizards of Waverly Place; The Movie which was the second highest watched film during the year. Gomez was honoured with an ALMA Award, Gracie Award and Imagen Award for her exceptional performance. The show also saw young Gomez crowned with seven Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards.
In 2010, Selena played a lead role in Ramona and Beezuz, a film that was highly praised by critics. The following year, she again starred in the film Monte Carlo playing as Grace – a teenager who is mistakenly taken as a socialite on a trip to Paris. The role was quite demanding and required the young girl to train playing polo as well as learn two different British accents.
In 2012, Wizards of Waverly Place came to an end after running for four seasons. It is at this time that Gomez decided to take her film career beyond the Disney Channel. It all started with the animated film Hotel Transylvania where she starred alongside Adam Sandler and Steve Buscemi. In 2013, Gomez featured in the film Spring Breakers with James Franco. The film was a success as it showed the other mature side of Gomez away from the kid roles she had previously featured in.
Gomez faced a film frustration in 2013 after starring in Getaway. The film was highly criticized and most people regarded it a major failure. The criticism saw her nominated for the Worst Actress during the 34th Golden Raspberry Awards. Selena, however, took the criticism positively and that same year, she starred in a Disney film titled The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex.
In 2014, she appeared in the films Behaving Badly and Rudderless. That same year, Gomez fired her parents from being her managers and instead contracted WME and Brillstein companies to be her managers.
Some of Gomez’s recent roles include The Big Short, a supporting role for the comedy Bad Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, drama film The Fundamentals of Caring, Dubious Battle and 13 Reasons Why.
Besides acting, Gomez discovered her voice after recording the theme song for the Disney series Wizards of Waverly Place. The song was titled ‘Everything Is Not What it Seems’ and, just like the show, it was a great hit worldwide. Gomez also had the honour to provide soundtracks for Another Cinderalla Story, Tinker Bell, four songs for Wizards of Waverly Place and a single titled One And The Same which was a duet with Demi Lovato for Princess Protection Program.
In 2008, Gomez successfully signed a contract with Hollywood Records and formed her pop-rock band called Selena Gomez & Scene. The band released their first debut album. Although some people criticized Gomez’s vocal performance, majority found the album fun and entertaining. Upon the album release, it debuted at position nine on Billboard 200 charts and sold 66,000 copies in the first week.
With even more determination, the band released its second album that same year and debuted at number 4 on the Billboard 200 Chart.
The band’s third and last studio album was released in 2014. The album’s second single performed quite well and received 4x Platinum certification from RIAA. However, the lead song as well as the last single did not perform as well as they had expected.
In 2013, Gomez released her first solo album Stars Dance. The album was a hit and besides debuting at position one on the Billboard 200 charts it sold 97,000 copies during the first week of release. Although some critics found fault in her vocals, the album remained in the top ten even for the following week. The lead song ‘Come & Get It’ became her first ever entry on top 10 on the Hot 100 charts. Sadly, the album ranking dropped drastically a month after its release. Ultimately, Stars Dance has up to date sold less than 400,000 copies making it the worst selling album in the USA. Although she attempted to promote the album with the Stars Dance Tour, it was not of much help.
In 2014, she released a single titled ‘The Heart Wants What It Wants’. The single performed well and besides selling over a million copies in the USA it was on the top ten list on Billboard Hot 100 charts.
That same year, she released a compilation album titled For You. Due to lack of organized promotion, the album was a commercial failure. Nevertheless, Gomez winded up the year by signing a contract with Interscope Records.
In 2015, Selena released her second album Revival and it was highly praised for its lyrical content. The album sold 117,000 copies in the first week and was debuted number one on Billboard 200 charts. The album produced successful singles such as ‘Good for You’, ‘Same Old Love’, ‘Hands To Myself’ and ‘Kill ‘Em With Kindness’. She promoted the album with the Revival Tour which was later cancelled before completion due to concerns of her health. She however made a comeback after winning the 2016 American Music Award for the favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist.
Currently, Gomez is working on her third studio album with Interscope Records.
Since entering the public eye at 7 years old, the baby-faced singer and actress has remained a darling to many. Her Instagram says it all, being the first celebrity to hit 100 million followers.
Gomez’s philanthropic side is also evident as she has been involved in several humanitarian activities for child welfare, environmental concerns and protection for animals. She is involved with Trick or Treat movement; a UNICEF initiative that encourages kids to raise money during the Halloween holiday to aid other needy children across the globe. Selena then became the youngest ambassador to hold such a position in the organisation at only 17 years old. The position gave her the opportunity to travel to Ghana in 2009 and play a role in bettering the lives of underprivileged children in the country.
She is also involved with the Charity Island Dog which looks into the welfare of dogs in Puerto Rico. Other organizations she supports include Raise Hope for Congo, Friends for Change, Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund and Hope for Haiti.
Concerning her political support, she played an important role in encouraging teenagers to understand about the 2008 presidential candidates, in a movement dubbed UR Votes Count Campaign.
Besides her charitable aspect, Gomez is a fashionista. She launched her fashion line, Dream Out Loud, in 2010 and collaborated with designers Tony Melilo and Sandra Campos to create a variety of collections that included dresses, jeans, skirts, tops, jackets and other accessories such as scarves and hats. Her collection was made from eco-friendly materials and this enhanced the fashion line’s popularity.
In the recent days, Gomez has received sharp criticism for half naked pictures she posts on her Instagram page. According to most parents, it’s a bad show for teenage fans who are her followers.
As a young girl, Selena’s love life can be termed adventurous. The soft spoken artist started her dating life when filming Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place. She was seeing Nick Jonas but the relationship was short-lived. She was also spotted with Twilight star Taylor Lautner, but they split up before the cameras caught up with them.
Her most high profile and long-term relationship was with Justin Bieber in 2010. The power couple broke up in November 2012 but reconciled before the year ended. However, the two had an on-off relationship from then on and finally ended their relationship in 2013. Funny enough, she was awarded the Capricho Award for the Best Breakup in 2013.
She then began dating music producer DJ Anton Zaslavski, AKA Zedd in early 2015 but the two split up later that year. Come 2016, Gomez was romoured to be dating Samuel Krost. In 2017, Gomez has been hooking up with singer The Weeknd.
Besides her love life, it was reported that Selena was suffering from an autoimmune disease called lupus. The illness caused her face to swell, fatigue, joint pains and headache. The young beauty battled with lupus for several years followed by a series of chemotherapy sessions and this led to her cancelling most of her tour across the globe.
Written by: Peris Ngaruiya