Actress Selena Gomez made her mark as Alex on the Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place but this 18-year-old also sings. On the heels of the release of her new album, A Year Without Rain, we spoke with the Grand Prairie, Texas, native by phone yesterday as we launch a new Selena Gomez page on Hulu. In addition to music videos for “Round and Round,” “Naturally” and “A Year Without Rain,” you can also tune in to Selena’s web series, “Girl Meets World,” which originally aired on YouTube. In the series, cameras follow the young star as she tours Europe for the first time. Selena — a big fan of Hulu, herself — tells us more below. — Rebecca Harper (email@example.com), Editor
Hulu: You said that you’re really excited to see your videos on Hulu. Do you use Hulu much?
Selena Gomez I do, yes, because I love how clear most of the streams are, and it’s really easy and very simple, so I definitely love going on there. I like to watch some shows to catch up on things, but I never get to watch an actual series. I tend to trail off, but I try to see all the fun shows.
So tell us a little about Girl Meets World.
I did my first Europe tour and I’d never been anywhere besides Canada and Mexico, so I wanted to take my fans on my journey. I got to go to Spain and Paris and London and Germany. I had some time in each individual place, so basically we had the camera crew follow us everywhere, and they captured every moment. It’s kind of very personal — I’d never really let people in that much. It follows me from when I start my day to when I end my day. And sometimes after I end my day, they’re still there. It’s kind of like a mini-reality show, but it was really fun. Now my fans can really see what my life’s like and I wanted them to see Europe, too. It was really fun for me.
You mention this in the first video, when did you know you want to sing and act professionally?
I definitely think that’s what I always wanted to do. I was an only child growing up. I always loved entertaining myself, so I would go to my mom’s work. It would just be me, and I would perform in her office, and I’d be putting on skits and singing everywhere, basically being me. So I feel like that had a big part in it. My mom is also an actor, but she never did television or film. She did a lot of theater, which I loved. I think that kind of worked then. I asked my mom because I really wanted to be a part of it when I was around 7 and 8, and she helped me start the process.
Your breakout role, of course, was on Wizards of Waverly Place. How did you get that role?
I was 11 years old and Disney had this nationwide casting search. They went all around trying to audition different girls in different states. So they rounded up a few people. It ended up being three people that they flew in, and I was one of them. I went to LA for the first time and I auditioned in front of all these people. I got the part in the pilot that they were doing, but it didn’t end up getting picked up. They wanted to keep me in their family, so I guest-starred in a couple of their shows. I guest-starred in Suite Life and Hannah Montana, and then Wizards of Waverly Place came along and I went through the whole audition process again, and they picked me to be the girl.
How has that role helped you with your singing career now?
Obviously Disney Channel has an amazing launching pad. They’ve just been so wonderful to every single person on their network. I feel like they have great taste, and they’re family. I think the Disney Channel is really good on being able to create that family for all of us. I started on the show, and it just really helped me branch out. I was really shy when I was younger, and in comedy you can’t really be shy. You have to be very out there and willing to give a lot of yourself. It’s helped me open up in many ways. They’ve also helped me with my music and keeping other roles. It’s just been a really good thing, being part of the Disney Channel.
How do you think Twitter and Facebook have helped you as well? [Selena has over 3 million followers on Twitter.]
I think the social networks are very important. I think that being part of Facebook and MySpace and Twitter, all of those things, it really awesome. It’s a great way to stay in touch with your fans and let them know what you’re up to. It’s a little scary sometimes because it’s very personal, so I try to use it for what it’s there for. I use it to remind my fans how much I appreciate them and how much I love and care about them, and what I’m doing and what I’m up to and see how they’re doing, and what the response is. It’s very quick and it’s very instant.
Do you have a preference for acting vs. singing?
I just don’t really trust myself. One day, I wake up and I’m so obsessed with my music and then the next day I wake up and I’m just so into my films and wanting to know what’s going on in that world and in my show. So I don’t really trust myself right now. But I think in the future once I get older and I want everything to slow down, I think I’m going to want to be in film.
Do you write any of your own songs?
I do, but the awful part for me — the unfortunate part — would be having to do everything at once, so I can’t give the individual attention that I’d love to give. My studio time is extremely precious, so I can’t go in there and spend, like, two days writing one song, or three days writing one song. I have to go in there and record the song. The fortunate part for me is that I have some amazing producers that know me personally that I’ve worked with before, that have written songs for me about stories that I’ve told them and situations that I’ve been in, and when I talk about my fans. They’ve written things that were very personal to me. Hopefully in the future I’m able to give my music more attention, so I can be more involved.
Later this month, you’re doing a benefit concert for UNICEF. Can you tell me about your involvement with that organization?
I’ve been involved with UNICEF for three years. They’re an amazing organization, and I feel like I’m part of the family. What they do is really beautiful. I’d just started to do one campaign with them, and once I realized what they do, and I was able to witness some of the work that they did, they asked me to be their ambassador. I immediately took it because I wanted to be part of it. I’ve been working with them very closely and just get so passionate about it every year, and I want to do something more. This year is the 60th anniversary of the trick or treat campaign, so I’m doing an acoustic show with my band and we’re gonna raise money through that. Hopefully that will bring about some good things.
Have you traveled with UNICEF at all?
I have. Last year I went to Ghana, Africa, which was really amazing. I was able to do some fieldwork and actually witness what UNICEF is doing to help. I got to be part of it, and it was really beautiful. It was a great experience. I’m planning on doing another trip with them soon.
What are you up to next?
I’m still working on the show, so we’re wrapping up the last season of Waverly and getting ready to do another movie. Then afterward, I will be prepping to do my first actual summer tour, which will be exciting because I’ve done a lot of concerts, but I’ve never done an actual tour that I’m going to be able to create from scratch. I will hopefully be a part of some more films, but I’m not quite sure of that yet.
How does it feel to be wrapping up Wizards?
It’s really emotional. Every week I go in, and even though we’re not anywhere close to being done, I feel like it’s just gonna come on me really quickly. I’m preparing myself but I don’t think I’m going to be prepared. It’s going to be really hard. I will tell you this: it’s a fact, I’m going to be the one that cries the most.