20 years after her death, Selena Quintanilla is still a musical icon. Known as ‘La Reina del Tex-Mex’ she was the first female artist to have a tejano hit. She sold more than 60 million albums making her one of the most successful Latina singers of all time (only Gloria Estefan and Shakira have sold more records than her.)
The movie memorializing her life, Selena, is iconic in its own right. Starring Jennifer Lopez as Selena, Edward James Olmos as her father, and Lupe Ontiveros as her fan club president, Yolanda Saldívar, the film made millions of dollars at the box office (and made Latinos everywhere hate Lupe Ontiveros because, “she killed Selena.” Come on people, she’s an actress not the real murderer!) The film is like a gift to her fans, their chance to see her perform one last time. Jennifer Lopez as Selena is so true-to-life that when Selena’s family was on the movie set, they would hug J-Lo and cry uncontrollably, hardly believing that it wasn’t Selena.
Directed by Gregory Nava, (El Norte, Mi Familia) the movie has its melodramatic telenovela-esque moments and cheesy cutaways to a sparkly full moon and roses but I love it, like a lot. I am a little bit of a movie snob and sometimes turn my nose up at mainstream films but I’m not gonna lie, I have the 10th anniversary special edition DVD of Selena. I can’t be the only one. I am positive that this movie has been seen by practically every Latino is the U.S. (this fact is unverified but probably totally true.)
I watched it again recently and I was wrecked, totally wrecked. It’s just so sad. The movie makes it clear that she was at a pivotal moment in her career, that she was about to crossover into the mainstream having just recorded an English-language album. And even though she wasn’t alive to witness it her posthumous album, Dreaming of You, reached number one.
March 31, 2015 is the 20th anniversary of her death. :'( Rest in Peace Selena. We will remember you always.
Director: Gregory Nava
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Edward James Olmos, Jon Seda, Lupe Ontiveros
Release Date: March 21, 1997