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Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was an icon that was tragically taken from the world too soon, but Netflix has given us Selena: The Series which is a beautiful celebration of her life and family. Part 1 of the series, which drops December 4, shines a bright light on Mexican-American culture and Selena’s journey to stardom. In an interview with CinemaBlend, creator of Netflix’s Selena: The Series, Moises Zamora, spoke about casting Twilight alum Christian Serratos as Selena.
Found very early in the process, Christian Serratos could not be more perfect for the role. Her radiance leaps off the screen and she brings an indescribable light to the storytelling. Creator Moises Zamora saw this within Serratos the moment he met her. Here’s what Zamora shared of their first meeting and the subsequent casting:
Christian Serratos got that role because of her sheer talent and charisma. She lights up the screen. I met her through a friend and she showed up with red lipstick channeling Selena. I was already a fan of her professional talent, but when I got to know her, I realized she had a lot in common with Selena, especially her generosity and spirit. Selena was famous for being kind and sweet and genuine and playful and charming to everyone, meeting them two hours after her show or a famous producer, she held those values. When I met Christian, I saw that spark... she just killed it throughout the process. Everyone was emotional and teared up. The family approved, and we were off to the races.
Sounds like this casting was like love at first sight, and a perfect match. Casting director Carla Hool really nailed it with every single role. Selena: The Series is a family drama that offers much more insight than the 1997 film did into the lives of Selena’s parents, brother and sister, beyond how they relate to her. We also meet some of Selena's high school friends, as well as the other members of the band and her siblings' significant others. The whole cast compliments one another as a unit and feels completely authentic.
One of the most beautiful themes of Selena: The Series is family first. The Quintanillas are a close-knit group, which is both a tribute to Mexican-American culture and the leadership of patriarch Abraham (played bey Ricardo Chavira). The story begins with Abraham discovering Selena's talent, creating a band, and then turning that into the family business. The filmmakers worked with the real Quintanilla family to preserve the authenticity of the story. Elaborating upon this, Moises Zamora said the following:
One of the things we found out early on was Abraham had discovered the raw talent in his home with Selena. The family shared actual recordings from that time when Selena was seven or eight years old singing, and it was incredible to hear her. When he saw that she had such an incredible talent, being a musician himself in a past life, he did everything in his power to provide that support system. He had already been working with his son to play guitar and he had music dreams but it’s a different story for having kids to come along for the ride...Culturally speaking, I do feel like Mexican-American families are very very close. There’s a little bit of a competition going on there sometimes, where the older sister was not really game for it in the beginning, and you didn’t see any girls being drummers. There was not that kind of role model to look up to.
Showcasing the Mexican-American culture was obviously important to the filmmakers, and it was done beautifully. Moises Zamora has even built a film and television production company called Zone One that is focused on elevating stories of people of Latin-American, Indigenous, and Afro-Latin descent for a global audience. Their vision is to curate projects from all over the media spectrum. Zamora said this of creating Zone One:
It was a response to all of this... the challenge to be a Mexican-American immigrant, gay...all of these things that in today’s world can potentially get in the way of believing you can become a writer/producer/creator. I had to go and find some sort of success and validation in Spanish before I could find perhaps the strength and courage to learn it in English. Zone One was informed/born out of that, taking another risk, jumping hurdles and taking on more challenges because I got so far from staff writer to co-showrunner to creator of a series. It's a big job, but I’m dedicated to put in the work to open the door and give more opportunities to Indigenous/Latin descent. The stories about ourselves, anyone can relate to them, as you can see from Selena. We all want to achieve the best version of ourselves and reach our dreams.
We all deserve the chance to chase our dreams, and Selena is one inspiring story of someone who accomplished that. See how she got started and what she overcame along the way in Part 1 of Selena: The Series, now streaming on Netflix. This show will give you all the feels, so here are some more Netflix options if you need a laugh after.