The Wizards of Waverly Place star acts, sings and is working to save the planet, so she can't be just 15, right? But she is

Por Laura Kusnyer / NYC
Updated Marzo 20, 2008
Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez may not be craving a life in the Hollywood spotlight – “I don't know if I can handle that!” she exclaims –, but that might be where she's headed. After getting her start on the children's show Barney & Friends, the 15-year-old acting talent is now the star of the popular Disney Channel show The Wizards of Waverly Place. Not to mention that she's currently working on a new movie and is gearing up to make a rock-pop album.

“I don't think I want to be famous,” Gomez says, explaining that her role models include more low-key actresses like Rachel McAdams and Rachel Bilson, “actresses that have done so many amazing projects. I would love to follow in their path.”

In contrast to so many stars whose parents push them into the entertainment industry, Gomez's road to acting was an organic process of doing what she most enjoyed. “I was an only child, so I had to entertain myself a lot. I would sing and act for my parents and my family, and they would laugh and think it was funny. When I was about 7, I told my mom I wanted to become an actress and [that] I would love to do TV.” Selena's mom gave her the green light, thinking her daughter was just going through a phase, but when she beat out 1,400 kids for a part on Barney, it was clear that acting could become much more than just a hobby. “I've learned everything I need to know from Barney,” she adds with a chuckle.

Last year, Gomez moved from her hometown of Dallas, TX, to Los Angeles, a town known for bringing out the worst in people. But the young actress isn't giving in to the stereotypical L.A. attitude. When asked how she likes the California city, she politely responds, “I always say I've met the meanest people, and the nicest people, so I don't hurt anyone's feelings.”

At her young age, Gomez sounds much more mature than you'd expect, but when you keep in mind that she already has a full-fledged acting career, her adult tone isn't too surprising. She says she enjoys talking to her friends back home, but admits that “I could never go back to being the normal teenager back in Texas.” And when asked what Oscar-winner she was most excited for, her answer is much more profound than anticipated: “Juno‘s screenwriter [Diablo Cody]. I loved her back story and what happened to her. I thought that was amazing how she wrote it.”

On top of her professional obligations, Gomez is already standing up for a cause. An Earth Day activist for the Disney Channel, the actress explains, “We are the next generation, and we do have to take care of our earth, because we're the ones who are next.”

You can catch Selena on the The Wizards of Waverly Place Saturdays at 6 p.m., Eastern Time, on the Disney Channel. She plays Alex Russo, a teenage wizard in training whose magical powers allow her to “take all the kids' dreams and imaginations and bring them to life.” Gomez, it seems, is doing the same thing in her real life.