Netflix is set to launch a new biographical series about the “Queen of Tejano” on Friday, which brought up questions about how to cast the influential singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez – because of the controversy when it was done back in the 1990s.
The celebrated Mexican-American artist known as ‘Selena’ is celebrated for her distinct style of popular Latin Music. She died tragically young when she was murdered in 1995, and was famously portrayed two years later by Jennifer Lopez in the 1997 biopic “Selena”.
At the time, the actror faced a backlash due to the casting choice, as Lopez is a native New Yorker born to Puerto Rican parents, while Selena was a Texan of Mexican roots.
So the question of casting Selena for the new series “Selena: The Series” came up with showrunner Moisés Zamora in a recent interview with Insider.
Zamora first acknowledged the controversy surrounding the original casting, but also praised Lopez’s performance:
"The story with Jennifer Lopez is that it was just a no brainer after she auditioned. She captured [Quintanilla-Pérez's] essence," he said. "Now, I think she's loved. And she just does an incredible job [in the film] that hopefully people got over it,” he said.
In this 2020 biopic, actor Christian Serratos – who is of Mexican and Italian descent – plays Selena.
Still, Zamora explained that representation was very important to this production, noting that many of the showers writers were also Mexican-American:
“It was very important for me because I do care about representation, and also, being self aware that as a creator of this story, I needed to make sure that the Mexican-American female perspective was very present in the writing and the directing.”
A few weeks ago, JLo expressed her excitement and said she “can’t wait” to see the new show, and Selena fans felt the same.
But still, some people thought it was definitely time for a new portrayal of the singer they love so much.
As one person wrote referencing Lopez’s comment, “I like JLo, but I'm not like a ‘fan’ like I am of Selena. But I'll always be grateful to her for bringing Selena to a wider audience and for portraying her spirit. Now it's time for a whole new generation to fall in love with Selena”.