Selena Gomez stars as Alex, just an average girl with magical powers, on Disney Channel's The Wizards of Waverly Place. Since she moved from Texas to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of an acting career, life has been pretty exciting for Selena! She chatted with IML about the show, her "brothers", and how she hopes her success will help her do some real good in the world.
IML: The onscreen chemistry between you and your TV brothers, David Henrie and Jake T. Austin, is really fun. Are your off-screen relationships with them just as close?
Selena: They basically ARE my brothers; they're my real family. My mom laughs at me all the time because we're constantly in touch with one another off the set, we're always calling. They're always there for me, and it's torture when I can't see them every day. We do fight like brothers and sisters sometimes, but mostly we play around and joke around. I don't have any real life siblings so this way I can have brothers.
IML: Does David give you older-brother-type advice?
Selena: Definitely! They're both so protective of me. Even when I like a boy or something, they have to make sure he's okay, or the boy has to be "approved" by them.
IML: How are you similar and different from your character, Alex?
Selena: Well, I'm outgoing just like Alex is, but she gets into a lot of trouble, and I don't get into trouble like she does, that's for sure. I guess style-wise, we're kind of similar. I like to dress very relaxed and Alex just wears Converse and jeans and cute tops, and that's me, too.
IML: We hear you have a big sneaker collection!
Selena: Oh, yeah! I'm a huge Converse girl. I think I have about twenty pairs in different colors.
IML: Do you feel pressure to get dressed up and be girly, especially when you have to attend Hollywood events?
Selena: Not too much. I do understand that I can't wear jeans and sneakers to an event, but I'm not a dress girl. I can't do dresses or extreme high heels. So I find my own way of dressing up! I like to add cool bracelets or skinny jeans. I try to find a happy medium.
IML: So you can still be yourself in those situations where there are lots of cameras around?
Selena: Definitely. I have to be, I guess. I can't dress in something that I'm not comfortable in.
IML: On the show, what's your favorite type of scene to shoot?
Selena: My favorite scenes are ones where all of the family is together. Whether it's a funny or dramatic scene, whether we're trying to solve a problem or doing magic or turning my brother invisible, it comes off best when we're with the whole family in the loft. I think when we're all together the show is at its strongest point. And I love being with the entire cast in a scene.
IML: Do you have any favorite episodes so far?
Selena: The Quinceanera episode was probably my favorite, or the episode where Alex wanted to go to a rated R movie. She tries to put a spell on herself to magically go into the movie theater, but she ends up actually IN the movie, so she's stuck in this scary movie sorority-house flick, and they shot it just like a movie. It was so much fun because it was like being able to shoot an actual scary movie.
IML: You sing the show's theme song, "Everything Is Not What It Seems," and we hear you're starting to explore music as part of your career. Do you have a favorite type of music that you like to perform?
Selena: I like rock/pop, I guess you could say. Sort of Avril Lavigne type of music. I've always said that I wanted to be in a band, so hopefully when I start my music I'll be in a band, not just solo. You know like, me and four guys, something that's different and coo. It's different from what any other Disney Channel star has done so far, and I like having people with me to lean on, and people to write with and have fun with.
IML: How do you find singing different from acting?
Selena: I think you can be more of yourself when you're singing. You can have a little bit more control over it. It's a different process, with going into the studio and not having to worry about what you look like on camera. You write music and perform it, have fun, then go on concert and jam out in front of an audience.
IML: We heard that Jake has taught you how to surf! Can you tell us more about that?
Selena: Yes, Jake recently did a movie where he surfed, and he told me I should try it. And I was like, "Okay," and I got really into it, it was so much fun. At first the ocean scared me a little bit, but we don't go too far out. Once you ride that first wave, there's something about it that keeps you riding more and more.
IML: Why do you think it's important for young people to find a sport they love and do it regularly?
Selena: It's a stress relief. Like with surfing, it's nice to go on a beach and just forget about stuff and get away. It's fun. And acting's kind of like a sport for me too, it's the same as something like football or basketball for other people. It's something you do for fun and something you're serious about.
IML: Are you involved with any volunteering or charity work?
Selena: My family and I want to start our own organization to work on global warming and a couple of other things. It's kind of sad when you walk up to teens nowadays and you start talking about global warming, and half of them say, "What?" I want to educate everyone about that situation. Also, we just recently visited the Children's Hospital of Orange County and I want to do more with them. And for pets also, we want to do something for abused pets. We just want to do as much as possible. We recycle, we do everyday little things that people don't think will matter. But in reality, those little things are the most important. Doing everything you can do and spreading the word.
IML: You moved to Los Angeles with your family from Texas for your acting career. Was it hard to leave home and start over in a new city?
Selena: It was hard. It was almost a test of how badly I really wanted to pursue acting. Which I did, there was no question in my mind that I wanted to come out here and do this. But it was really tough to leave my friends behind.
IML: Have you always known that you wanted to be an actor?
Selena: Ever since I was about six or seven! My mom did a lot of theatre when I was younger so I grew up around it, and I just always loved it. I loved running lines with her, and then one day I tried out for something and got it, and it all started!
IML: Were you nervous about trying out the first time?
Selena: I was definitely nervous; I was very shy when I was younger. I remember we had to wait in this line with about 1400 other kids and I didn't know what I was doing. But then when I got to the audition, I realized it was just running lines, just like I always did with my mom. It was scary -- and those situations are still scary for me -- but it was fun at the same time.
IML: Who are your role models in life?
Selena: Workwise, my role model is Rachel McAdams. I fell in love with her in the movie Mean Girls, I love how she spreads herself out. She did a teen movie, a romance, a comedy, a family movie, a thriller. She reinvents herself each time, and that's what I respect and love about her the most. And personally, my mom is one of my idols!
IML: What do you think it means for a girl to be strong?
Selena: Self-confidence is a huge part of it. You can't think that you're not as good as anyone else. And I think it's important to be careful of what you do and say and who you hang out with. Represent yourself well, even in the clothes you wear.
IML: What other types of characters would you like to play in the future?
Selena: I'd like to play a mean girl. I did play a mean girl on Hannah Montana, but I'd like to be the bad person in a movie. Just something different to challenge myself!
IML: Thanks, Selena...and good luck with everything!
Selena: Thank you!
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