Happy Birthday, Selena Gomez: 21 Ways She’s Grown Up In Front of Our Eyes!

Selena Gomez is now 21! A true adult milestone, Selenita celebrated by filming a birthday video at her house, posting a photo on Sunday with the caption “Surprise…. Tonight at 12:01.” But in true child star fashion, Selena has grown up right before our eyes! Here are 21 ways the young star has already taken steps towards adulthood. 

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Red Carpet Wins

Like all of us, Selena Gomez had some good days and some not-so-good days when figuring out her personal style. But in the past few years, she’s been hitting it out of the (fashion) ballpark. From Dolce & Gabbana at the Spring Breakers premiere in Venice 2012 to D&G at the UNICEF ball in 2012 to Giorgio Armani at the 2011 American Music Awards, Selena has been working every red carpet and doing it with serious style. 

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Taking Care of Business

With a few multi-million dollar business and tech ventures, a new line for ADIDAS, and (we’re sure) more on the horizon, this star has her head on straight when it comes to backing projects that she not only believes in – but that can make her some serious cash as well. 

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New Sister

Nothing matures someone faster than becoming a big sister! Gracie Elliott Teefey was born on June 12, 2013, making Selena a new big sis. Hanging out with her on set, the young star was seen laughing and holding the newborn. So cute!

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Love & Wisdom

With her on-again, off-again boyfriend Justin Bieber it seems to be a romance that she can’t seem to shake. But when it comes to love, Selena seems wise beyond her years: "I'm having fun," the she told NYLON this year. "At the end of the day, love is such a normal thing, and everyone deals with it. Just because it's a different lifestyle doesn't change the meaning of what I've been raised on, which is fairy tales."

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Spring Breakers

Selena knew she had to start moving away from the Disney image – and she did in the film Spring Breakers. In the film, while Selena played the “good girl” of the group, the entire movie is definitely a step up for Selena. "I definitely felt that with my first stepping-out role, I should choose something that I could understand a little more. I was really nervous, but Harmony took a chance with me," Gomez told NYLON. "He said, 'You live in this bubble, and I'm going to take you out of it, but you have to trust me.'" 

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Serious Acting Moves

Speaking of moving away from the Disney image, two of her newest roles had her working with seasoned veterans and conquering new terrain: Getaway stars Ethan Hawke and Jon Voight, and is a fast paced thriller with a ton of action. Behaving Bad stars Dylan McDermot, and is based on a book by Ric Browde that chronicles growing up and going on a rock n’ roll adventure. 

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Music Process

As the years have gone on, Selena Gomez has become more and more in charge of her creative vision for her music – including that of her lyrics. In an interview with the Toronto Star, the starlet explained: “Before I would hear a song,” she says. “I would like it and then play it and that would be that. This time I got to call producers and writers myself. I got to tell them what I was feeling, where I was in my life, what I wanted to sing about.”

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Music Videos

But the lyrics aren’t the only way Selena has showed she’s no longer a kid. Her videos have shown more of her (literally) and have even showed off her dance skills, moving to a more “adult” aesthetic. More power to you, Sel! 

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From her controversial (yet super sexy!) MTV Movie Awards performance that featured a Bollywood theme (and Bindi) to her Dancing With the Stars performance, one thing’s for sure: Selena is showing a much different side of herself!

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Music Veteran

Her latest album, which will release this week, will mark her first debut solo album, but it is actually her fourth studio album (she released three as “Selena Gomez & The Scene” with her band for years). By this time, she’s a pro! 

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She Gets That She’s a Role Model

"I am human, I'm not perfect," an 18-year-old Gomez admitted on her E! Entertainment special. "I make mistakes all the time, but I guess my job is to keep those mistakes to myself, which I'm already fine doing and just try to be the best I can be for those kids. I never really said I want to be a role model. But when it happened I was so down for it.”

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She Tries to Keep Perspective

"This is a very superficial job," Gomez says. "I sit in a chair for two hours and get hair and makeup done and talk about [myself] in interviews. That's a very vain thing to do. I do get caught up in it sometimes." We love that she’s self-aware! Thankfully for the young star, she seems like she has a great support system of family and friends. 

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She Keeps Her Friends Close

While Selena was BFFs with Demi Lovato since their days on Barney, the stars grew apart – only to reconnect recently. And the star has another celeb in the best friend category: Taylor Swift! Surrounding herself with friends who understand the pressures is a smart thing to do – who better to get advice from than those who are going through it themselves? 

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Namesake Perfume

Perhaps the biggest proof that Selena Gomez is already a big time star who has made the transition to adulthood? She has her own perfume! Release in May of 2012, Selena Gomez (the perfume) hit the shelves and has been a hit since! She’s even released a new take: Selena Gomez Vivamore, which features more of a floral fragrance. 

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Philanthropic Causes

As the youngest UNICEF ambassador, ever, it’s no surprise that Selena has been heavily involved in charity work – and continues to this day. Selena has lent her time and efforts as ambassador for DoSomething.org, an advocate for RAISE Hope for Congo (an initiative of the Enough Project which raises awareness about conflict minerals and violence against Congolese women), Hope for Haiti Now, and as an ambassador for the Ryan Seacrest Foundation.  It takes a responsible young woman to use her success to encourage others to do better. Love that!

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She Knows the Importance of the Vote

In 2008, the singer (who was 16 at the time, and not able to legally vote), became involved in the UR Votes Count campaign, which encouraged teenagers to learn about the presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain. It isn’t too early to stress the importance of knowing the issues and getting out there to vote!

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Fashion Designer

The budding star not only loves her fans – she loves to make them feel great as well! By designing her clothing line, Dream Out Loud, the star got to make affordable fashions for a great price, starting in 2009. She even marks the tags with inspirational quotes. 

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Looks Up to Those Who Take Risks

While Selena has named a number of influences in her years, two names she’s repeatedly mentioned as influences in the past year include Katy Perry and Rihanna, both of whom definitely know how to take risks and garner an adult audience. We smell a duet in the future!

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Knows a Good Thing

Selena is a wise actress who knows her audience. Even though she had moved on from Wizards of Waverly Place, she reprised her role most recently in The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex that aired in March 2013. 

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But Also Spreads Her Wings

The next month, she joined the William H. Macy directorial debut Rudderless, which immediately went into production at the same time.  The film centers around a grieving father who lost a son, and who forms a band based on the demo tapes his son left behind. It’s apparently a dark script, and we’re anxious to see Selena in it!

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Pushes Boundaries

Which brings us to our final point: Selena isn’t afraid to push herself! A driven woman, she’s conquered music charts, gritty scripts and first loves all with finesse. We can’t wait to see what’s next for this lady!