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Selena Gomez

The Wizards of Waverly Place star chats about acting alongside her BFF and fellow Disney diva, Demi Lovato, in Princess Protection Program.

Demi Lovato and Selena GomezDemi Lovato and Selena Gomez

(DISNEY CHANNEL/JOHN MEDLAND)

At first glance, Selena Gomez does not seem like your typical 16-year-old. The Texas-born actor-singer has been performing professionally since the age of seven, when she made her debut alongside her soon-to-be best gal pal, Demi Lovato, on Barney & Friends. In 2007, she become a full-fledged House of Mouse player on the Disney Channel sitcom The Wizards of Waverly Place, and this Friday, June 26, at 8pm, she graduates to TV-movie star in the comedy Princess Protection Program, in which she portrays a regular teen who helps an undercover royal, played by Lovato. Although Gomez's life is chock-full of photo ops, award shows and jet-setting, she is sweet, smart and, dare we say, normal—the kind of teen idol who doesn't give parents nightmares. While she is enjoying her time in the spotlight, Gomez is realistic about the problems that can arise from living under a media microscope, and she credits her family with keeping her grounded. Time Out Kids caught up with Gomez to chat about her career, her BFF and how she has managed to remain a worthy role model.

Was it fun working with Demi in Princess Protection Program?
Picture doing a movie with your best friend at 16. It was like a big sleepover! It really didn’t feel like work at all. It was strange to pretend that I didn’t know her in the beginning of the movie, since I’ve known her for ten years now, but it was fun. My favorite scene is when my character, Carter Mason, a rural Louisiana tomboy, bonds with Demi's princess. It was interesting to play a girl who takes an emotional journey and ultimately comes to understand and learn about the true meaning of friendship.

Did you always want to be famous?
No. I started in this business because I love acting. I was ecstatic when I got The Wizards of Waverly Place. When we first started shooting it, we actually had to pay people to come and watch the show because no one knew what it was! Now we haven’t even started season three and all of our shows are sold out. It’s been really crazy, but it’s been wonderful.

So you wouldn’t consider yourself an overnight sensation?
No, not at all! After Barney, I kept working steadily in commercials, because that’s all they really have in Dallas. Then the Disney Channel had a nationwide casting search, so I sent them my tape and two weeks later they flew me to California. It was the first time I'd ever been there.

How have your family members adjusted to your stardom?
I’m really lucky in that they support everything I do. My family is obviously a big consideration when it comes to my career. They’re the ones who have had to take me to all my auditions. They have sacrificed a lot. I still live at home with my parents—in fact I’ll probably be 30 by the time I finally move out!

Do you feel like you’re able to retain some semblance of a normal adolescence?

Selena GomezSelena Gomez

(DISNEY CHANNEL/JOHN MEDLAND)

Of course. My mom really tries to find time for me to spend with my friends because that’s a big part of growing up. I have my core group of friends form Dallas, and my cousin Priscilla; she travels with me a lot. And luckily, I’ve also met some lovely people in the business.

How have you avoided the pitfalls that bedevil so many young stars?
Knock on wood! Having had to work really hard to get where I am has a lot to do with it, but mostly it's my parents. I’ve never disobeyed them. I’ve always tried to listen to them and do my best to follow the rules since they obviously know what’s best for me. Of course, I am 16, so there are times when I fight with them, but that's normal.

Is it stressful being a role model?
I do understand that there are a lot of little girls that look up to me. I love that; it's really wonderful. I realize that means I have to watch what I say and what I do, but I don’t think that’s any kind of pressure; it’s part of the job. I love my fans and would never want to do anything to hurt them. I’m only 16, and I will make mistakes...but I will try to keep those mistakes to myself.

My eight-year-old daughter and her friends want me to ask about your relationship with David Henrie, who plays your brother, Justin, on Wizards. Do you two get along better offscreen?
Everyone thinks we’re really mean to each other, but he’s actually one of my best friends. He’s very sweet. Lots of people love our chemistry; he’s just so funny, and after three years he still surprises me with the stuff he comes up with.

If you could be a wizard in real life, what powers would you want?
I’d love to be able to rewind time and go back to kindergarten because we had naptime and recess! I’d like to pencil a few of those into my current schedule!

Describe your ideal guy.
Nice. My parents would have to like him. Educated. Someone who makes me laugh.

What’s your advice to parents who are struggling through their kids' teen years?
Parents just have to let their kids go through it. When my mom told me that she didn’t like one of my boyfriends, I didn’t listen to her. I'm glad that I had that experience and learned that lesson the hard way. Teens need to make their own mistakes in order to really understand what not to do.

Where do you want to be five years from now?
I’m assuming my show won’t still be going in five years! Singing is something I’m dabbling in, and my first record, which is pop-rock with a dance feel, is coming out in September. I wanted to make music that’s fun, not serious. I’m no Christina Aguilera, I know that. But acting is definitely my core. I hope I’ll have the opportunity to do more movies.




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