When Selena is mentioned, red lips and bangs come to mind, along with the butt — yes, the butt. And don’t deny it — you’ve grabbed the scissors and cut your own bangs at some point, hoping to look good as the “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” singer, and you’ve performed the “washing machine” in front of your mirror. No? Okay, maybe that was just me.
Growing up in a Mexican-American household, Selena was taught at an early age. The Texas native was often played during our Saturday morning cleaning — Latinx folks, you know exactly what I mean — or experienced through her biopic “Selena” (1997).
Personally, I fell in love with Selena at an early age because she was the first celebrity I saw myself in due to our matching backgrounds, languages and darker features; I believe that’s why Selena resonates with so many. She was a successful Mexican-American woman who broke barriers, teaching many young Latinx children to do the same.
But in learning about her life, listening to her iconic tunes like “Como La Flor” and “Baila Esta Cumbia” and quoting “Anything for Selenas,” came learning about her untimely death on March 31, 1995; Selena was murdered by her fan club president, Yolanda Saldivar in Corpus Christi, Texas. She was only 23-years-old.
Since her passing, Selena has been remembered in many ways throughout the years, including in “Selena,” a biographical drama on Selena’s life, starring up-and-comer Jennifer Lopez as Selena. The film, which was released on March 21, 1997, shared Selena’s life story, starting from her father’s beginning as a struggling musician in the 60s to their struggles in the 70s and 80s, and her accomplishments and ultimate death in the 90s.
The Quintanilla family joined the film’s team as producers, giving advice on the film’s direction for accuracy and authenticity. The family mentored and shared numerous mementos and rare footage of the singer with Lopez, helping her understand Selena and her mannerisms and personality. Lopez even slept in Selena’s bed and moved in with Suzette Quintanilla, Selena’s sister, while preparing for her role.
Not only did “Selena” share Selena’s story with millions, but it also shined a light on Latinx culture and struggles within the community; some themes tackled in “Selena” were the male-dominated Tejano music industry, generational differences between parents and their children and having to be “twice as perfect” by adhering and assimilating to two different cultures.
“We have to be more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans, both at the same time! It's exhausting,” said Edward James Olmos as Abraham Quintanilla Jr. in “Selena.”
Years later in 2016 and 2017, Selena earned two major pop culture recognitions. After over 100,000 people signed a petition for Madame Tussauds to create a sculpture of the singer, Madame Tussauds Hollywood unveiled their official Selena wax sculpture. The sculpture replicated the bedazzled and vibrant purple look she wore while recording “Selena Live” at the Corpus Christi Memorial Coliseum in 1993, which earned her a Grammy in 1994 for Best Mexican-American Album.
On November 3, 2017, Selena was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; Los Angeles also named the day “Selena Day.” Selena’s old bandmates, family and husband joined in on the celebration and revealed her star, which can be found in front of Capitol Records. Selena often visited the building after signing with EMI Latin.
In 2015, Selena superfan Patty Rodriguez created a petition, asking for MAC Cosmetics to release a Selena for MAC makeup collection — and MAC listened. On October 6, 2016, MAC delivered the Selena collection, which was packaged in purple —her favorite color. The collection featured lipsticks, eyeshadows, a bronzer and blush duo, lip gloss, eyeliner, mascara and brush — all named after songs or Selena-related titles. It sold out instantly.
On April 21, 2020, MAC Cosmetics released another Selena makeup collection due to the first one’s success and in celebration of her legacy 25 years later. The new makeup line, titled “Selena La Reina,” or “Selena the Queen,” was inspired by the singer and her iconic rhinestone bustier. The makeup collection sold out instantly, too.
Selena La Reina includes 14 makeup products and a makeup bag, packaged in radiant holographic packaging. The collection includes products like lipsticks, an eyeshadow palette, lip glosses and more, ranging in different colors and metallic and matte shades. Like the first collection, Selena La Reina’s products are named after songs or Selena-related titles such as: “The Washing Machine,” “Big Bertha,” “Me Siento Muy Excited,” “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” and “Hey, Dad! Pizza!”
The most recent and anticipated Selena-related project is “Selena: The Series,” a biographical drama series based on Selena’s life is set to be released on Netflix’s streaming service sometime in 2020. However, there’s little information on the upcoming two-parter (first 10 episodes will be released this year).
“As Mexican-American Tejano singer Selena comes of age and realizes her dreams, she and her family make tough choices to hold on to love and music,” stated the Netflix’s synopsis.
On November 12, 2019, @selenanetflix released a teaser, showing Christian Serratos (“Walking Dead” and “Twilight”) as Selena in her iconic, purple jumpsuit, red lips and bangs, singing “Como La Flor.” Young Selena and her parents are also briefly shown.
Written by Moisés Zamora and directed by Hiromi Kamata, the series will star Madison Taylor Baez as young Selena, Ricardo Chavira (“Desperate Housewives”) as Abraham Quintanilla Jr. and Jesse Posey as Chris Pérez.
As I reach my own 23rd birthday, I often think of Selena and her legacy, wondering what would have been if she were still here with us; through her fashion sense — catch me sporting a red lip and red nails almost always— and her admirable work ethic and love for education, Selena has always served as an inspiration, and as a reminder that the “impossible is always possible.”
Whatever your Selena memory may be, or even if you have little knowledge or are just learning about her today, Selena has lived on in many hearts, reigning today as a Latinx cultural staple and inspiring those during and after her time. Celebrate Selena’s legacy by streaming her tunes, wearing a red lip and dancing to a little cumbia today.