Even 25 years after her death, Grammy-winning Selena Quintanilla’s life and musical legacy remains influential and relevant. A highly anticipated Netflix show, Selena: The Series, premiering Friday, seeks to improve the life of beloved Queen of Tejano beyond her musical journey.
The new show is essentially a story about the Quintanillas, a close-knit Mexican-American family from South Texas who strive for a better life while overcoming the struggles of Latinos in the entertainment industry.
Christian Serratos, best known for her role as Rosita Espinosa in AMC’s « The Walking Dead, » plays Selena on the series. Selena was 23 when she was fatally shot by the president of her fan club.
The first part of « Selena: The Series » isn’t just a celebration of the singer’s life, from when she was born in Lake Jackson, Texas in 1971 to the release of her second studio album « Ven Conmigo » in 1990. It’s also a celebration of navigating life as a young American with Latin American heritage.
“Selena couldn’t speak Spanish when she started singing. When she started performing in Mexico, she realized that she needed to get back to her roots and understand the language, culture and more of who she was and where she was from, ”said Seidy Lopez, a native Mexican who plays Marcella, Selena’s mother. “She explored this as she grew as an artist, as she grew as a woman. And I hope that this next generation sees that and that they bring it to their own experience because it’s very empowering. ”
Several cast members spoke to NBC News about how their own memories were intertwined with the singer’s career.
Ricardo Chavira, who plays Abraham, Selena’s father, recalls growing up in South Texas when Selena rose to star.
« I picked up our local paper and read about a concert she had or tuned in to a local newscast and saw her accept her awards at the Tejano Music Awards, » said Chavira. “Her rise to success and career were part of the landscape I grew up in in high school and my early college years. ”
The show pays special attention to the role Selena’s family played in their journey to success.
Gabriel Chavarria portrays Selena’s brother, record producer A. . B.. . Quintanilla grappling with the pressure to develop hits for his sister.
« Abraham, he challenged A.. B.. . much. He always wanted A. . B.. . to be better and always find another hit and keep writing songs, ”Chavarria said, adding that the show also delves into the backstory of hits like“ Como La Flor ”. ”
“So, A. . B.. . was able to create the most famous Selena songs that we know today, ”he added.
In order to prepare for the role of Abraham, Chavira said it was crucial to understand the experiences of his own Mexican-American father.
« Some people would say this guy is really tough, he’s very strict, » Chavira said to Selana’s father. “Being tough is one thing, but when you layer it with love and compassion, that’s parenting. ”
Noemi Gonzalez plays Selena’s sister Suzette, the CEO of Q Productions, the Quintanilla family entertainment company and former drummer for Selena y Los Dinos. Suzette is also an executive producer on the show.
« How can you not be intimidated when you play a real person? … Besides, you’re your boss, ”said Gonzalez. “I have to look at it from a different angle to say that you play this woman who is ultimately Executive Producer and CEO of Q-Productions. She is very different in the series than we know her today. How can I give that to their future selves since I have that from which to work backwards? So it was a really fun and challenging opportunity. ”
Loyal Selena fans may remember Seidy Lopez from her role as Selena’s friend Deborah in Gregory Nava’s 1997 film Selena, starring Jennifer Lopez. She is featured in one of the most memorable scenes in the film, where they are in a boutique shopping for clothes before the 1994 Grammys and the store manager suggests they couldn’t afford to buy there – assuming they were poor Latinas.
« It’s so special, » when Seidy Lopez came back as her mother, she told NBC News. “In many ways, it almost felt like I was looking into my own childhood from my mother’s perspective. ”
The portrayal of the Quintanillas comes at a time when hate crimes against Latinos increased in 2019 following the El Paso massacre by an armed man who informed authorities that he had targeted Mexicans. Latinos were also the only major racial and ethnic group to be underrepresented in onscreen roles over the past year, according to the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.
« I had this very strong social awareness of how Mexican Americans have been received over the past four years and how that has changed because of the political climate, » said Gonzalez, a Mexican American. “It is important to show a hardworking family with good values and that we are all children of God and only live under different conditions. ”
Nicole Acevedo is a reporter for NBC News Digital. She reports, writes and produces stories for NBC Latino and NBCNews. com.
Selena, Netflix, Christian Serratos, Abraham Quintanilla
World News – USA – Netflix ‘Selena: The Series’ celebrates her rise to star – and the Mexican-American life
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