Disney Channel sensation Selena Gomez first appeared on our screens back in 2002, sitting in a spinning chair singing a catchy little number with one famous purple T-rex. Of Mexican descent, Gomez was born in Grand Prairie, Texas in 1992. Her parents divorced when she was only five and it fell to her mother - an actress herself - to pick up the pieces and make something of, if not her own life, then that of her daughter.
Her part in Barney and Friends, playing the character of Gianna, was her first big break; as Gomez recalls, "I was very shy when I was little [...] I didn't know what 'camera right' was. I didn't know what blocking was. I learned everything from Barney.” (So who needs Anthony Hopkins when you have a dinosaur as your mentor?)
After Barney and Friends, things started to gather momentum and with a career in the ascension, so too Gomez’s love-life got a similar boost. After winning the lead role of Alex Russo in the hit show “Wizards of Waverly Place” (2007), she famously dated Nick Jonas - even though Jonas didn’t want anyone to know - then allegedly moved on to top-bloke Taylor Lautner of Twilight fame, followed all-too-closely by a certain Justin Bieber in 2010; with whom she endured an ugly on-off arrangement and “one of the most tumultuous celebrity romances of all time”.
With a chart-topping career and some high-profile chart-bottoming romances under her belt, let’s look at some of the times this Disney princess gave us more than we bargained for…
This is a tough subject for late bloomer Gomez. With a sheltered upbringing, albeit embraced by the closeness of her mother, Gomez admits she lived a secluded existence. “Where we’re from, you don’t really leave.” This posed a problem not so much for her as a child star, but as the entertainment machine took off during her mid-teens, she felt increasing discomfort at both the public demands and the break from the private. After all, her mother by all accounts “sacrificed her life” for the young girl who was now well and truly a favourite of millions.
In an interview with Into the Gloss back in 2014, Gomez said her rise to fame and fortune “wasn't exactly a cakewalk.” While she seems to be embracing an upturn in her musical career, she has been quoted as saying in the past, “I just really can’t wait for people to forget about me.”
Gomez played Mikayla Skeech in Hannah Montana. Released by the Disney Channel in 2006 and running until 2011, her character is the “jealous enemy of Hannah Montana”. This proved to be the career springboard she needed and in tandem with her appearances in Hannah Montana, she filmed pilot episodes for two more Disney endeavours, “Arwin!” and “Lizzie McGuire”.
About her past employment, Gomez is quoted as saying: "I worked with Disney for four years. It’s a very controlled machine. They know what they represent, and there was, 100 percent, a way to go about things”. Notably her last acting assignment with the entertainment conglomerate was in 2013 starring in the Channel’s special “The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex”; thereafter her child-star-gone-wrong persona began to catch hold, although she did receive a Mickey Mouse charm necklace as a gift from Disney…which was nice.
13 Hannah Montana
There were always going to be rumours of disagreement between Gomez and her on-screen rival. What with Gomez’s meteoric rise to fame as she landed the recurring role of Mikayla Skeech (which was initially planned as a “one-off”), it seems likely that Cyrus, who until then had the distinction of being the Tween favourite, would feel a little browned off.
There was that 2008 YouTube “vlog #1” from Gomez and Demi Lovato which got a snide and sarcastic parodying from Cyrus. However, Gomez, perhaps wise to the value of diplomacy, announced tactfully “I’m not here to replace anyone. Miley is such a sweetheart. There is no feud, there’s nothing going on.” (She said, through gritted teeth!)
12 Selena’s Friends
OK, so we know this particular Disney princess has well over 118 million followers on Instagram, but who does she like to follow? Allegedly a huge Johnny Depp fan, are there some other celebs who catch the eye of our Mexican Girl? According to the Mirror in 2010 “she would love to work with Cheryl Cole, describing the former Girls Aloud star as a "modern Britney Spears". No, but seriously, do you mean her music? In the same article she looked to have a girl-crush on the Tyne-side 33-year-old when she said, “I can see that she [Cole] carries herself with a lot of grace, so I look up to her". Mmmkay.
And let’s not forget Gomez’s continuing friendship with American singer, songwriter, and actress Emily Osment. And then there’s Demi Lovato, with whom in 2009 she recorded "Send It On", a charity single and the theme song for Disney's pro-social "green" initiative Friends for Change, with the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus.
According to College Candy, in August 2009, 17-year-old Gomez became the youngest UNICEF ambassador ever and she has been with the Children’s Fund ever since playing an active role in popularising the plight of vulnerable children. Over the last eight years she has participated in numerous campaigns and events, travelled to Ghana with the organization and to Chile to meet families in one of the organization's programs.
Gomez also used her online influence to support UNICEF's emergency campaign to save lives in the Sahel region of West and Central Africa by promoting the “Sound the Alarm,” initiative: an international shout-out to raise funds to avert the deaths of a million children from malnutrition. Her proactive involvement seems to have had a profound effect. “To witness first hand these families' struggles and also their hope and perseverance,” she said in a recent interview, “was truly inspiring.”
10 The Big Screen
After Barney and Friends, things started to gather momentum. Her first role was as Waterpark Girl in the 2003 film “Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over”, then came Walker in “Texas Ranger: Trial by Fire” (2005), Alexa in “House Broken” (2006), Spring Breakers in 2012 and most recently Lisa in “In Dubious Battle” (2016).
Perhaps what is most noticeable and to be applauded is the contrast in her filming credits, from the relatively inauspicious start, to her starring alongside some movie greats. Over just the last few years she has shared stage with the likes of Billy Crudup (“Rudderless”), Paul Rudd (“The Fundamentals of Caring”) and Jim Carrey (“Horton Hears a Who!”); if ever there was an example of where hard work, perseverance and a good deal of sacrifice can get you, this is it.
9 Taylor Swift
In a 2012 interview, Gomez said of her friendship with Taylor Swift, "we've been friends for four years and she has been through so much with me that I can say we're almost sisters.” But then, after her stint in rehab back in 2014, there seemed to be a cooling off of their friendship which prompted some Gomez pundits to write: “There is some serious ‘bad blood’ right now between former best friends Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift!”
True, after her rehab, Gomez vowed (or most probably, was advised) to ease off on the highlife, stop drinking too much gin and orange and smoking, but would this really have included binning off her good friend? Was Swift such a bad influence? We’ll leave the world’s online zines sweating over that one, but we can report that whatever has happened in the past few years is all water under the bridge, for the pair, according to J-14 magazine, are still the very best of friends. Whoop Whoop!
8 Singing Career
Despite announcing in January 2012 that she would be taking a break from her music career, Gomez confirmed in October of that year she was working on new material. This ended up being her solo album with “Come and Get It” as the lead track on the album. It was her first solo album since her group Selena Gomez & the Scene and reached number one on the US Billboard 200 chart where it sold 97,000 copies in its first week.
Selena Gomez & the Scene released their final studio album in 2014, with the album's second single receiving a 4x Platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA); what’s more, in the following year, her collaboration with DJ Zedd on the single "I Want You to Know" became Gomez's fourth top twenty entry on the Billboard Hot 100, also receiving a platinum certification from the RIAA.
7 British Accents
All you Brits out there - there’s hope for us all! According to last year’s Mail Online, Selena Gomez “would 'absolutely' date a British guy because she is obsessed with the accent.” The “Hands to Myself” songstress is so enamoured with English accents and cheesy chat up lines that she’s cancelled her return ticket to LA and instead went and bought a semi in Bridlington (only joking, sorry).
This isn’t the first time Gomez has had a brush with the finest British parlay. Metro reported in 2011 that in preparation for playing the part of Grace in Thomas Bezucha’s romantic comedy “Monte Carlo”, she had to learn two British accents. She took two weeks out with a vocal coach to perfect an accent which was “to be almost very Victoria Beckham, kind of very posh and sophisticated.” Did she succeed? You decide.
6 The Tours
Back in 2014, Gomez cancelled her highly anticipated Australian tour, much to the disappointment of her adoring fans. Back then, the singer admitted she needed to, “spend some time on myself in order to be the best person I can be”; with a swift apology, the fans never got to see her perform.
Then, in 2016, after the 30-plus dates of her Revival world tour were also axed, Gomez was reportedly taking some more time out, but this time forced to acknowledge some issues. The rumours were rife about a lifestyle issue but, as she was keen to point out to People Magazine in the same year: “As many of you know I have lupus; an illness that can affect people in different ways.
“I want to be proactive and focus on maintaining my health and happiness and have decided that the best way forward is to take some time off. Thank you to all my fans for your support. You know how special you are to me.” So it seemed the illness had hit her hard and forced her to consider some serious changes but we were nevertheless left wondering, was that the only reason...?
5 Lupus… Or What?
Back in 2014, she was reportedly attending Dawn at the Meadows rehab facility in Wickenburg, AZ, although it was strongly denied she was there for treatment of substance abuse. The truth is always hard to fathom but we at least know that two years later, the official line for the concern and string of concert cancellations was Lupus (as mentioned above).
However, shortly after the announcement, conflicting reports came out about her using the disease as a convenient scapegoat for tiredness or a cover-up for a suspected drug addiction. “She is using this as an excuse for everything lately and the truth is that she is just a mess right now,” explained a source close to the singer quoted in the magazine Radar Online.
We don’t think there’s a shred of truth to the rumours but it’s worth mentioning that the American Media-owned Zine goes as far as to suggest that her relationship with none other than Justin Bieber left her with some severe addiction to, “ a cocktail of Lunesta, Ambien, Klonopin and Xanax”.
With addiction ruled out by all but the most sceptical journalists, the question arises about what sort of therapy Gomez received behind closed doors. We’ve discovered it’s not unheard of to be taken through a course of behavioural therapy for treatment of Lupus and her admission of the treatment certainly coincides with her revealing that her panic attacks before performances was a contributory factor in her decision to cancel shows.
"Tours are a really lonely place for me," the 24-year-old said in an interview for Vogue magazine. "My self-esteem was shot. I was depressed, anxious. I started to have panic attacks right before getting onstage or right after leaving the stage.” It became something she vowed to deal with head-on. The 90 days of therapy she had was an eye-opener by all accounts: "It was one of the hardest things I've done, but it was the best thing I've done." Good for her, we say.
It was never easy to keep-up with the machinations of the relationship between Gomez and Justin Bieber, but keep-up we tried, and discover did we that their time together involved more ups and downs than a window-cleaning session at The Shard building in London. What with acrimonious separations and furtive reunions, it was hard to know whether they were together or not. Bieber wrote songs for her, sang to her in public shows of affection (what’s not to like?) and yet their duet “Strong” from 2012 had already pointed to communication issues.
However, in autumn of 2015 Gomez denied any bad feeling after her seemingly final split from Bieber. She claims she simply, “Isn’t focused on dating right now,” but doesn’t deny the prospect of getting back with him. What? This stuff’s exhausting! And if that wasn’t bad enough, we hear Gomez was still hanging out with Justin even after being seen around town with DJ Zedd long after the announcement. All we’ll say is: Keep your ear to the ground, The Weeknd.
2 Amanda Dawn "Mandy" Cornett
Let’s turn for a moment to the one who is credited with propelling Gomez to where she is today, namely her mother and former stage actress herself Mandy Cornett (now Mandy Teefey). By all accounts, Teefey was a guiding influence on Gomez who remembers how she “would let me run around and make short films and the entire neighborhood [sic] would audition for me.” It was obvious that in Gomez, Teefey saw the star potential that she herself sadly never realised.
Her devotion to Gomez’s upbringing as an actress - giving up everything she had worked towards and working long hours to afford travel and audition fees - inspired Gomez to follow her own career. However, according to an article in the Mirror in 2010, Teefey treated Gomez no differently to any other and helped ultimately to “keep the young star’s feet firmly on the ground”.
1 Lover Of Dogs
Well, confirmed dog lover and doggy foster parent Gomez has got our vote. According to close sources, she’s a mummy to six rescue dogs including Willie (Labrador-retriever mix), Wallace (Boxer-Shepard), Fina (Rhodesian ridgeback mix), Chip (Corgi mix), Chazz (Puerto Rican breed), and Baylor (Husky).
Baylor apparently was found on a trip to Canada when she was with Bieber. It was love at first sight, with Baylor at least, as she tells online zine Zimbio "I literally felt like he said my name. So, I had to have him." The other five are also lucky enough to have found a home with a self-confirmed softy queen of rescue animals. Having been raised in an area where there were lots of abandoned dogs, we think this might have something to do with her current full household of hounds.
Sources: yourtango.com, radaronline.com, wikipedia.org