We are a publication dedicated to Latinx life in Texas, so ANYTHING having to do with La Reina, Queen of Tex-Mex, Selena, is top priority to us.
The legacy and memory of La Reina is something we hold very near and dear to our hearts. Although we share her with the world, let’s not forget she is Tejana. This makes it especially hard when it comes to authenticity of casting for any “Selena” project.
Many of us were little girls when Selena passed so we remember the huge uproar that happened when a then, young up-and-coming actress named Jennifer Lopez, was cast to play Selena in the biopic. The film was released only 2 years after Selena’s death so fans were still mourning the loss when the casting news came down. The Mexican American community was outraged that a Puerto Rican actress was going to portray the Queen of Tejano.
It was a huge source of contenention then (which went on for years) and even now in the comments section of Selena fan pages you will sometimes still find fans getting into fights over this same issue.
Jennifer Lopez went on to become JLo – an icon in her own right – and has since, always paid tribute and respect to Selena, with the love and the blessing of the Quintanilla family. The world of fandom was (for the most part) at peace.
Over the last 5 years there have been several attempts at launching a series about the life of La Reina. Needless to say, casting has been the elephant in the room, everyone waiting to see if a Tejana will ever be cast in the role.
Telemundo was the first to announce that they would be launching an unauthorized controversial miniseries, El Secreto de Selena, based on the book by the same title, written by journalist María Celeste Arrarás. The Quintanilla family – and many fans – have spoken out to make it clear they do not support this project since it is based on conversations that took place with the woman who murdered Selena (Yolanda Saldivar) and journalist María Celeste. Cast in the role of Selena, is Mexican actress Maya Zapata of Mexico City. The Telemundo series kicks off this weekend.
Although the Quintanilla family did not authorize the Telemundo project, they did give the green light to the popular online streaming giant, Netflix. Earlier today, the casting announcement came down as to who will be the next to wear that iconic bustier in the scripted production, Selena: The Series
Christian Serratos, who played “Rosita” – one of the only Latinx characters on the popular zombie series, The Walking Dead – has been cast to play the coveted role as the Texas Queen. Serratos is of Mexican-Italian heritage, from Los Angeles.
Sadly, the only series that didn’t get the green light, is the one that fans actually are dying to see. Chris Perez – Selena’s then husband – wanted to produce a series based on his book “To Selena With Love” telling their love story as a couple. Selena’s father, Abraham Quintanilla, put a stop to that and filed a lawsuit against the production.
Being “Tejana/o” (Mexican-American from Texas) is its own special identity with a culture all its own. It’s not something that can be imitated, therefore accurate representation matters; it’s the whole reason our publication was created, and Selena is one of our treasured Texas icons, so when you remove that Texican component in casting, well it’s a lot like watching someone who is NOT Matthew McConaughey say “alright, alright, alright,” sure it can be done, but it will always be missing a little something.
No doubt we will all be binge-watching when it airs, and we have love for ALL the Latinas that have stepped into the role BUT we have had a Nuyorican (Puerto Rican from New York,) a Mexicana from Mexico, and now a Mexican-Italian American from Los Angeles playing Selena, it would be nice if maybe one day we can get an actual Tejana (Texan Mexican) to be cast in the role of the Tejano Queen, crossing our fingers!
For funsies, check out the beautiful performance with Jlo and Selena’s family, for the 2015 Latin Billboard Awards Selena Tribute: