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The Secret life of ... Disney star Selena Gomez

November 4, 2008 | 10:21 am

Slo_gomez_k988w5nc_400 Selena Gomez doesn't want to talk about whether or not she's dating Nick Jonas (though she most recently denied it -- again -- to reporters.) But it's hard to blame the 16-year-old star of Disney Channel's "Wizards of Waverly Place" for wanting to downplay her personal life when her brand is booming. She's busy working on a new album for next year and running her just-unveiled production company, July Moon Productions. And while she won't be voting in today's presidential election, Gomez has spent the last half of 2008 encouraging teens to get involved in politics, as the national spokesperson for the organization Ur Vote Counts.

"We prepare them for the election as though they were going to vote, talking to them about issues like national security, the economy and education," Gomez said. "When I thought about the fact that I'd be voting in two years I freaked. I wanted to prepare myself. What's awesome is I can get other kids involved as well."

During some rare free time, Gomez talked about being in the limelight, the first time she got recognized in public, and the one thing she likes to do all by herself.

Do you read the tabloids?

Recently, I have not. I'm actually very, very proud of myself. Honestly, the blog sites and everything -- I'd be on them nonstop. I've gone four weeks total without looking at them and I'm very proud and very happy. I was addicted. It was bad.

Do you mind being in the tabloids?

Regardless how much someone says, 'I don't believe what they say,' people do. I'm a person, and I have feelings. I love what I do, and I want to do this the rest of my life, but I do not want it to run my life.

Unfortunately, sometimes [celebrities] let the media control their life. I've seen that happen. It's not fun for me.

What was it like the first time you got recognized in public?

I actually got recognized for being on 'The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.' I was 13, and I only did one episode and had maybe seven lines total, and this little girl recognized me and I thought it was the weirdest thing. I remember back then my signature was totally like my full name and I took my time to write it all out. Now, I can't even understand what I write when I sign autographs.

After getting that first fat paycheck, what was your first big splurge?


I spent $200 on a phone. Made me nauseous. But I really wanted it. It was a present for someone.

What's the best thing about being a star?


That I'm able to use my voice for good. That I am able to use my status to my advantage.

Who is your career role model?

Rachel McAdams. I absolutely look up to her in every way possible because she's made so many wonderful decisions. I think it's wonderful that she spreads herself out. You notice that she reinvents herself in every character that she portrays. You don't see her playing one role over and over.

What makes you cry?

Thinking about home. I'm from Texas, and I don't get to go home often. I miss the normality and also that it's not so populated. I'm from a small town, and I still love going home and being able to drive at 7 in the morning and there not be any traffic. And I miss my family. They're the reason I am the person I am today.

What's the last song that you downloaded to your iPod?

"You're Not Sorry" by Taylor Swift.

What was the first movie you ever saw?

The first movie I remember seeing was "Alice in Wonderland." That and "The Wizard of Oz" are the reason I wanted to be actress. Judy Garland was my role model when I was like 6.

What song do you like to sing in the shower?

"Cry" by Mandy Moore. I loved "A Walk to Remember." I had such a huge crush on Shane West. So I was obsessed and [the soundtrack songs] "Only Hope" and "Cry" were my jams.

What's your favorite thing to do all by yourself?

I love oil painting. It's a bummer I don't get to do it as much as I'd like. I love to paint when I'm back home.

If you could change one thing about being famous, what would it be?

That the press wasn't so important. I think a lot of celebrities would agree with me on that. Or that they'd focus on all the great things in people's lives rather than all the unimportant or bad things.

What's the biggest misconception about you?

Thank goodness, there isn't none yet. It's good right now, but everyone's telling me, 'Just wait.' So I'm waiting for my big one.

The Secret Life ... is a regular feature in which celebrities talk about the highs and lows of being famous.

-- Denise Martin

Photo credit: Evan Agostini / Associated Press