Born on July 22, 1992, in Grand Prairie, Texas, Selena Gomez developed an interest in acting when she was super young — thanks to her mom’s background as a stage actress. Selena's mother, Amanda Dawn "Mandy" Teefey, had Selena was she was just 16 years old, and after she and Selena's father Ricardo Joel Gomez divorced in 1997, Mandy raised Selena as a single mother, working three jobs to support her daughter.
"I remember my mom would run out of gas all of the time and we’d sit there and have to go through the car and get quarters and help her get gas because she never liked to ask my grandparents for money," Selena recalled of her childhood during a special with E! Entertainment. "I remember having a lot of macaroni and cheese but my mom never made it seem like it was a big deal. She was really strong around me. Having me at 16 had to have been a big responsibility. My mom gave up everything for me, had three jobs, supported me, sacrificed her life for me."
Selena kicked off her career at age seven as Gianna on Barney & Friends, and she made her Disney Channel debut on a 2006 episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. She found her true home with the Mouse in early 2007, when she was cast as Alex Russo on Wizards of Waverly Place, which ran for four seasons and spawned both a Disney Channel Original Movie and a one-hour special.
Selena scored her first major big-screen role in 2010’s Ramona and Beezus (as Beezus), which she followed up with Monte Carlo in 2011 and the racy Harmony Korine indie Spring Breakers in 2013. Upcoming projects include Getaway, opposite Ethan Hawke and Jon Voight, and Behaving Bad, opposite Dylan McDermott and Nat Wolff.
Having demonstrated her singing chops on the Wizards of Waverly Place soundtrack, Selena inked a record deal with Disney label Hollywood Records just before her 16th birthday.
Her pop band, Selena Gomez & the Scene, has released three albums since the group formed in 2009: Kiss and Tell, A Year Without Rain, and When the Sun Goes Down. Their third effort, released in June 2011, produced the hit singles “Who Says” and “Love You Like a Love Song.”
Selena announced she would be taking a break from making music to focus on her acting career in January 2012, but returned to the singing world with the release of her first solo album, Stars Dance, on July 23, 2013. She has since confirmed she will be taking another musical hiatus to focus again on acting.
Selena Gomez dated Nick Jonas (of The Jonas Brothers) in October 2008, but the couple called it quits in 2009.
Selena and Twilight star Taylor Lautner dated briefly in mid-2009, but the media pressure proved too much for the young couple.
Selena entered into her next high-profile romance in November 2010, when she began dating fellow teen idol Justin Bieber. The two debuted their relationship at the 2011 Vanity Fair Oscar Party, and the media quickly dubbed them a teen power couple with the moniker "Jelena." They were together for two years before calling it quits in November 2012. Back on a couple weeks later, they broke up for good — or should we never say never? — in late December 2012.
As of August 2013, Selena is currently single and loving it (we think!).
Birth name: Selena Marie Gomez
Hometown: Grand Prairie, Texas
Special interests: Rescue dogs and philanthropy