It’s been 25 years since the movie Selena was released. The movie itself is wonderful, but the story is that of sheer heartbreak. This role made Jennifer Lopez famous, and it permanently solidified the fact that Selena Quintanilla Perez would have been one of the biggest stars in the world had she not been murdered in cold blood by a deranged employee and fan who was obsessed with her. The singer was only 23 when she was killed. Taken from her husband, her mother, and father, her siblings and cousins, and from the world, it was one of the most heartbreaking and tragic stories to come out of the 90s.
The world mourned the loss of Selena. So young, so beautiful, and so talented; she was on her way to becoming the biggest star in the world, and she likely would have done just that had she lived. The story is one that breaks hearts, but it is also a story that Jennifer Lopez had the job of telling. She was not a famous actress at that point. She was new to the game, and no one knew she would go on to become the biggest singer and movie star in the world following this role. Lopez played Selena like she was born for this role, but it wasn’t easy for the young star to do this knowing how the story ended.
How Did Jennifer Lopez Land The Role of Selena?
She was not a famous actress at the time. She was a Fly Girl on In Living Color, and she was working hard to become famous, but there were more famous stars who could have taken on this role. However, it was Selena’s mother who saw Lopez dancing and immediately chose her to take on the role of her daughter for the film.
“I remember Marcella gasping and saying, ‘Oh, she dances just like Selena,’ and we went, ‘She’s the one. She is the one.’ She has the talent, the desire, and the passion to really channel the spirit of that beautiful young woman,” according to Gregory Nava, the man who directed the movie. A staggering 21,000 women auditioned for this role, and it was Lopez who Selena’s mother immediately chose.
How Jennifer Lopez Turned Herself Into Selena
The most important thing she wanted to do with this role was justice to the story and the memory of this legendary talent. Before she auditioned, she watched every music video, tape, interview, and clip she could find of Selena. She watched her dancing. J.Lo learned her movements. She wasn’t showing up to audition to play this role as herself. Jennifer Lopez showed up as Selena, which won her the role.
Following that, she did all she could to become Selena. She even went so far as the sleep in Selena’s bed in her own home to get into the mindset of the late star. Lopez spent ample time with Selena’s family, talking to them and getting to know them and the woman they loved so much and lost far too early. She did it all.
What Selena Taught Jennifer Lopez
While Lopez never had the beautiful pleasure of meeting the woman who so inspired her, she did learn so much from being her in this movie. She learned how to navigate show business and the entertainment industry. She played a woman doing all of this in the movie. Lopez studied her, and she learned. She later applied all of this to her own life, and it’s how she made it work for herself. She would likely love nothing more than to have never had the need to play this role. In a perfect world, Selena would still be here, and the movie would never have been made under these circumstances.
Selena’s Fans Did not Want Jennifer Lopez to Play Selena
When the world learned Jennifer Lopez was cast as Selena, her fans were unhappy. They didn’t like the casting because, despite Lopez’s Latina heritage, the world called her the ‘wrong kind of Latina’ due to the fact that she is Puerto Rican American. It was a moment that put a damper on the making of this film, but the family did not care. They knew this was the right moment, and they were not having anyone else say anything about it. They cast Constance Marie as Selena’s mother, and it all worked. The movie was a hit, and those who were not excited about the casting eventually changed their minds about all of it.
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