At age 7, Gomez stars on Barney & Friends. "I was very shy when I was little," she tells PEOPLE in 2008. "I didn't know what 'camera right' was. I didn't know what blocking was. I learned everything from Barney." But after two seasons, she says, "[producers] felt like I was getting a little too old, so I got the boot."
After doing the Disney Channel rounds on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and Hannah Montana, Gomez lands her own show, Wizards of Waverly Place. She plays tomboy teen witch Alex on the Disney Channel hit. "I'm nothing like her," Gomez tells the AP of her character. "She's kind of mean and a little bit sassy and I think I'd get in trouble for that."
With a TV hit on her hands, Gomez's star-power draws her comparisons to reigning Disney princess Miley Cyrus. "I think it's an honor, it's a good compliment," Gomez tells the AP. In March, Cyrus ignites a reported feud with Gomez when she and her pal Mandy Jiroux mock Gomez and her friend Demi Lovato on YouTube. Both stars deny a feud, with Cyrus saying she's "super sorry" about the video.
The Miley vs. Selena plot thickens when Gomez is linked to Cyrus' ex, Nick Jonas of Jonas Brothers. Although Jonas' rep denies a romance, the stars share similar first kiss stories. "Well, she's an amazing girl, and anybody would be lucky to be dating her," Jonas says of Gomez.
With fellow Barney alum and Camp Rock star Demi Lovato, Gomez shoots the Disney Channel movie, Princess Protection Program. In the original TV flick, Lovato plays a princess-in-hiding who covers as an ordinary teen with the help of Gomez's character. "I'm having a blast!" Gomez says of her newfound fame. "I've been blessed with everything that I'm doing."
While filming Ramona and Beezus in Vancouver, Gomez is photographed with Twilight hunk Taylor Lautner – who is also in town filming New Moon. The Wizards of Waverly Place star, 16, and the ripped cutie, 17, cuddle during dinner and a movie in the Canadian city. "He has been visiting her on the set and they've been hanging out in Vancouver," says a source close to Gomez.
With the upcoming premiere of their movie, Princess Protection Program, Gomez and BFF Demi Lovato appear in a special edition of PEOPLE. In the issue, Gomez remains tightlipped about her relationship with Taylor Lautner but says, "I've cared a lot for people. I don't believe I've been strictly in love."
Following the launch of her Kmart clothing line Dream Out Loud, Gomez returns to music, releasing A Year Without Rain – her sophomore effort with her band The Scene. "My influences, especially with this record, would be Cheryl Cole from the U.K. and Katy Perry," she tells Access Hollywood. "The way that they carry themselves and their music styles were very inspiring for me so I kind of made my own version of that."
After nearly two years of dating, Gomez ends her relationship with Bieber amid speculation about their rocky romance, which included cryptic Twitter posts, breakup rumors and sightings of the Canadian pop star with other women in recent months. "It's not easy," a source tells PEOPLE, "but the relationship needed to end."
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Everett; Mitch Haddad/Disney; Joel Warren/Disney; Matt Symons/Pacific Coast News; Kevin Mazur/Wiriemage; Bauer Griffin; Fame; Noel Vasquez/Getty