By Topher Gauk-RogerSelena Gomez is ready to show off a new side. She's starred in a TV movie sequel to her hit Disney series, "Wizards of Waverly Place," and the edgy, R-rated drama, "Spring Breakers," and this month the former teen queen is celebrating her 21st birthday, releasing her fourth studio album and rehearsing for her first arena tour.
With the release of her new LP, "Stars Dance," the world is getting a glimpse of a more adult Gomez. CNN sat down with the multi-hyphenate on the morning of her birthday, and she opened up about how much she's grown since leaving teendom behind.
"The past year and a half has been really transitional for me, just personally, as well as transitioning into becoming a woman," she said. "I still feel like I'm 15 sometimes and then other times, I'm wanting to feel comfortable in my body and my skin."
For this album, Gomez drew inspiration from her favorite pop star, Britney Spears, as well as from her good friend Taylor Swift for a more mature sound. The former "Mouse House" starlet revealed she is most proud of this album because it is the first time she was able to dedicate herself fully to her music.
"I was able to have full creative control over it. Before, I would have maybe a month or two to record an album, and I'd have to do my series at the same time and tour on the weekends. I wasn't in the right mindset to fully give my all."
Gomez began acting professionally at a young age, nabbing roles in children's programs such as "Barney and Friends." As more former child stars are seen heading down dark and destructive paths, Gomez has always made a conscious effort to keep from falling down the same rabbit hole. The secret? It all comes down to the company you keep.
"I truly believe that you are who you surround yourself with. To me, it's that easy. I have a great family, I have great friends, and my mom is like my mama bear. She's the one that's going to tell me 'no' when everyone around me says 'yes.' It's a good thing to have a tight group that will keep you in check."
"Stars Dance" is a very personal album, Gomez said. Expectations for the disc are high, following three Top 10 debuts from her previous albums. "Come and Get It" marked Gomez's first single to break into the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.
With a 64-date arena tour on the horizon, the performer is determined to strike while the iron's hot.
"I really just want to give it my all. I've never been this tired. Dancing so much, singing constantly, just getting it tight. We want the show to be really big. I want it to be big, but in a grand way, just having my dancers and just bringing it to life."
Despite her hectic schedule and speculation about whether she'll rekindle her relationship with Justin Bieber, Gomez said she has no plans for a break in the near future. In fact, it may not be long before fans will be treated to album No. 5.
"I'm already in the studio now. I actually started working on new stuff and creating a whole fun, different vibe. It's constantly evolving. I'm super-stoked with where this is, and hopefully it will continue to just get better."
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