News recently broke that Endemol Shine North America and Major TV have purchased the rights to Chris Perez's book, To Selena With Love, about his late wife, the beloved Tejano Pop sensation Selena who was murdered at 23 years old. The networks want to adapt the book into a TV show or mini-series that will be for both English and Spanish speaking audiences. Check out Perez's excited announcement on Facebook:
Although the life story of Selena Quintanilla was already documented in the stellar 1997 movie Selena, starring Jennifer Lopez in arguably her best role, a TV show or mini-wouldn't go amiss, especially since 2016 has seen a resurgence in interest in Selena and an acknowledgement of the huge influence she's had on music, fashion, and Latin American identity in the US. Let's face it, we're still dreaming of her!
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Her Rise To Fame And Finding Love
Selena grew up in a tight-knit Mexican American family in Texas where she sang in a band with her siblings, A.B. and Suzette, that was managed by their father Abraham. While they spoke English in the family, Abraham knew through his own experience in the music industry that they'd have a better chance at success with a Latinx audience, so he taught her to sing in Spanish, which she later learned to speak fluently.
In the mid-'80s Selena's star began to rise fast and strong. Although she was still only a teen, she drew huge crowds to her performances. What she was doing was completely new at the time, and her magnetic stage presence, flashy costumes and smooth dance moves charmed everyone and anyone.
Check out Jennifer Lopez performing as Selena, singing "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" in the 1997 movie Selena:
From 1987 to her tragic death in 1995, the awards came pouring in: She won Best Female Vocalist of the Year and Performer of the Year at the 1987 Tejano Music Awards; her album Ven Conmigo sold over 500,000 copies, making it the first Tejano record to get gold record status; and in 1993 she won a Grammy for her album Live. In 1995 her most famous album, Amor Prohibido, was released and immediately achieved gold status. She even started working on an English-language album that posthumously gained her an even wider audience.
In all the mix, Selena found love with the band's guitarist, Chris Perez. Although it was a point of contention in her family at first, Selena made it clear that he was the one for her and in 1992 they married when Selena was just 20 years old.
Her Untimely Death
On March 31, 1995, Selena was shot and killed by the founder of the Selena fan club, Yolanda Saldivar. After it was discovered that Saldivar had been embezzling money from Selena's boutiques and fan clubs, the family fired her. In retaliation, Saldivar bought a gun and made an arrangement to meet Selena at a motel. The two women fought and Saldivar shot her in the back. Selena was just 23 years old.
While Saldivar claims she shot Selena by accident, the evidence that she intended to kill the pop sensation is overwhelming. She was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter and sentenced to life in prison, although she will be up for parole in 2025.
Selena's Enduring Cultural Impact
The reverberations of Selena's career — which had already been making waves while she was alive — have been felt all the way to today. Her influence has stretched far outside the boundaries of what was previously thought possible for Latin American artists and she's consistently listed as one of the major inspirations to performers, fashionistas and makeup artists, including Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Demi Lovato, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Selena Gomez (who is even named after her), Shakira, Drake, Eva Longoria, and even Kylie Jenner. 2016 even saw a MAC lipstick line come out in her name.
Even at such a young age, Selena's command of the stage, her genuine love of performing, bubbly personality, and nuanced style made her an icon to young women everywhere. Within the Latinx community, she was able to bridge the divide between those living in the States and those across the border, between English and Spanish language music, between fashion and music in a way that no other artist had been able to before her.
Selena stood for equality and didn't let ideas of what was expected of her as a women and as a Latina wall her in. At a point in our history when walls and intolerance seem to be all the rage, it's a great time for Selena and her legacy to make a comeback.