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On the 23rd Anniversary of Selena’s Death, Let’s Look Back At The Classic ‘Selena’ Movie

There are moments in the life of every generation that become “where were you?” moments. People remember where they were when they heard about the Kennedy assassination, the Challenger explosion, John Lennon’s murder, or 9/11. One of those moments for me was the death of Selena Quintanilla-Perez. I’m a Texan and she had already become iconic in my home state. She was on the cusp of becoming the first Tejana musician to break into the American mainstream when she was senselessly cut down by a psychotic troll. I was in chemistry class in high school when I heard. People were crying in the hallways. A friend of mine, who was her cousin, went into hysterics. This article is about the movie made about her life named, aptly enough, “Selena”.

In the film, Selena is played by Jennifer Lopez. Now, this was before she became a raging insufferable diva monster named J-Lo. It was also before she started acting with the “whisper all your lines so you look thoughtful and intense” school of acting. No, she was just a young actress looking to make a name for herself, and “Selena” launched her career. Selena was a young girl with an awesome voice stuck in the po-dunk coastal town of Corpus Christi, Texas. Other than the beach, a Chili’s, and a few of those souvenir shops that sell little shell people riding little shell bicycles, there isn’t much there. Her father Abraham, played by Latino acting god Edward James Olmos, manages her budding singing career and puts together a cracking Tejano ensemble from family and local musicians. For those of you that don’t know, Tejano music is a music indigenous to…well, Tejas. It mixes traditional Mexican rancheras, with American Rock and Roll, and the polka stylings of the German immigrants that populated Texas in the early 1900’s. Selena soon meets the love of her life Chris Perez, played by Jon Seda, who becomes the guitar player for her band. They get married even though EJO initially opposes the marriage. Drama! They work it out, and Selena continues to grow in popularity. Around this time she meets the aforementioned psychotic troll, Yolanda Saldivar, who is the president of her fan club. With fans like that, are we right? Selena cuts some English language songs that were starting to get airplay on American pop stations. All seemed to be going well, until Yolanda Saldivar shot and killed her in her hotel room. Just goes to show you, you can never trust psychotic little trolls.

As we said, the film launched Jennifer Lopez’s career. She won a best actress Golden Globe for her portrayal of Selena. The film also increased Selena’s fame across the globe, as people who had never been exposed to her music became fans through the movie. Members of the Quintanilla family, including her parents and Chris Perez, worked as consultants on the film to give it authenticity. It was shot mostly around the actual locations of Corpus Christi and San Antonio using the local folks as extras. Amateur actors in Corpus will still chew your ear off about being in the background of a taqueria or something. Trust us, we know. Still, “Selena” is a great film. Makes us want to go listen to “Como La Flor” right now.

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