Before releasing her debut album in 2009, Selena Gomez began her career as a child actress. Born in 1992, she grew up in Texas and got her first break as a cast member on the kids TV show Barney and Friends. Gomez landed minor roles in several other TV programs, but it was her affiliation with the Disney Channel -- who discovered her during a nationwide talent search in 2004 -- that officially jump-started her acting career. Guest appearances on The Suite Life of Zach and Cody and Hannah Montana paved the way for Gomez's own show,The Wizards of Waverly Place, which premiered in October 2007 and quickly became one of the network's most popular programs. Dubbed "the next Miley Cyrus," Gomez began juggling her commitment to The Wizards of Waverly Place with additional projects, including movie roles and a burgeoning singing career.
Gomez began branching out into pop music by recording songs for her own Disney projects. She sang the theme song for The Wizards of Waverly Place, recorded several other tunes for the the show's soundtrack, and performed on the soundtrack of the family film Another Cinderella Story. By 2009, she'd also assembled her own teen pop band, Selena Gomez & the Scene, and signed a contract with Hollywood Records. The band's full-length debut, Kiss & Tell, was released that year and went gold, as did its 2010 follow-up, A Year Without Rain. Gomez continued filming The Wizards of Waverly Place and made her theatrical debut in the 2010 film adaptation of Ramona and Beezus, but her music gathered just as much attention, as did a highly publicized relationship with fellow teen idol Justin Bieber.
When Wizards of Waverly Place started airing its final season in November 2010, Gomez shifted her attention back to her band, whose third album, When the Sun Goes Down, was recorded in early 2011 and released later that year. She next took a break from music to focus more on acting, with her first role in a decidedly adult movie in 2013's Spring Breakers showing she could stretch beyond teen stardom. Her return to music in 2013 with her fourth album -- but first credited to her as a solo artist -- also showed some stretching as she added dubstep, R&B, and EDM to her sound. Stars Dance was released in July of 2013. ~ Matt Collar & Andrew Leahey, Rovi