Today marks the 22nd anniversary of Selena Quintanilla’s murder at the hands of Yolanda Saldivar. It’s hard to believe that more than 20 years have passed; in many ways, the pioneering Tex-Mex singer continues to feel as relevant today as she was in the early 90s. It’s not just her forward-thinking sound (which, by the way, changed the music game – one only has to listen to “Techno Cumbia” to hear her imprint on the nu-cumbia sounds that are popping off everywhere from Buenos Aires to Los Angeles today).
And it wasn’t just how she redefined standards of beauty and style with her singular look – though she can be credited with providing an alternative to the Anglo beauty norms that dominated in the 90s, putting morenas with curves in the spotlight long before J Lo or Kim. We still see her signature crop tops and high-waisted jeans everywhere.
Though we will always remember her for those things, there was something else about Selena. For bicultural kids, who grew up with all of the complex “ni de aqui, ni de allá” sentiments that can come with having a foot in two cultures, Selena was the first affirmation of many’s identity in pop culture. Here was a down-home girl who could sing in Spanish and in English, who could be accepted by U.S. Latinos, mainstream Anglo audiences, and Latin Americans alike.
Somehow, she embodied the collective aspirations of the Latino diaspora, and she did it with such humility and humor that she made it look easy. She gave us the conviction that we could do it too – and for that, we will remember her always.
Today, on the 22nd anniversary of her passing, here are 15 ways to keep her memory alive and reflect on her cultural impact.
Listen to Our Selena Spotify Playlist
Read Texas Monthly's Amazing Oral History of Selena
Several years ago, Texas Monthly published “Dreaming of Her,” an oral history piece that gathered those who knew Selena best – her family, her husband, her bandmates and childhood friends, etc. – to tell her story in their own words. It’s a powerful read and just as relevant today as it was then.
Watch the Selena Movie
The movie memorializing Selena’s life has become iconic in its own right. Starring Jennifer Lopez as Selena, Edward James Olmos as her father, and the late Lupe Ontiveros as her fan club president, the film made millions of dollars at the box office, and made J Lo a star.
After Selena’s untimely death, her father, Abraham Quintanilla received offers from several producers looking to secure the rights to her story. The man he said yes to, Moctesuma Esparza, may have never reached out were it not for the insistence of his teenage daughter, Tonantzin. Read the entire story here.
Pay Homage to Her Makeup Look
Selena’s look – her bustiers, her staple red lip, her black eye-liner – have made a huge impact on her fans. If you weren’t able to cop the Selena MAC limited edition collection, you can still get the look. We rounded up some ways to pay homage to her signature beauty look with our 5 Favorite Selena Makeup Tutorials on YouTube so you can master the look at home.
Relive Some of Her Iconic Performances
Of course we all remember Selena’s epic performance in Houston’s Astrodome in That. Purple. Jumpsuit.
While Selena commanded your attention as a performer, she also did any time she opened her mouth. After a deep dive through YouTube, we found rare videos of her goofing off, cooking French toast, and explaining how to pronounce her name. Check it out here.
Get Your PhD in Selena Studies
About a dozen scholars have published essays on the late singer in peer-reviewed journals, and our friends over at Fusion highlighted three who dedicated much of their PhD careers to studying Selena’s cultural impact and significance. One even coined the term “Selenidad.”
If you have aspirations in academia, we can’t think of a better subject of study.
Take Buzzfeed's Insanely Hard Selena Movie Quiz
We thought we were fans of the movie, until we got an embarrassing 7/23 right on this quiz (though in our defense, it’s been a few years since we last watched it…).
Only the diehard, “Anything for Salinas” fans will nail this one, so good luck.
Check Out These People Love Selena So Much They Learned to Sing in Spanish
Selena sung in Spanish from a very young age, but because she didn’t speak the language she learned the lyrics phonetically. (Eventually, she mastered Spanish.) Now, people are learning her songs phonetically because they love her so much. Check out seven people who may not speak Spanish, but can sing the hell out of Si Una Vez.
Hear Other Huge Celebrities Talk About How She Influenced Them
Queen Bey talks about meeting La Reina Del Tex Mex and growing up hearing her on the radio in Texas. ❤️ 🌹❤️ 🌹❤️ 🌹
Watch Other Singers Pay Tribute to Her
Everyone from Colombiana Kali Uchis to Puerto Rican-Ecuadorian Adrienne Bailon to Solange Knowles have paid tribute to Selena with covers of her music. Watch them below:
The Selena museum was built by the Quintanilla family in 1998 to give fans a way to remember the achievements and life of their beloved daughter. It displays her red Porsche, awards, stage outfits, and other memorabilia. If you can’t head to South Texas to check it out in person, you can take a little virtual tour with the YouTube video above.
Additionally, some of Selena’s outfits are also housed in the Smithsonian museum in DC, for those who live in the DMV area.
Revisit Some of Her Best Outfits & Trend-Setting Looks
There’s no question that Selena was a next-level forward-thinker when it came to fashion, designing many of her looks and even establishing her own boutique, Selena Etc., in 1993 in Corpus Christi.