(1997) is an American
biographical film about the life and career of the late Tejano music
star Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, a Grammy Award-winning recording
artist who was well known in the Mexican-American and Latino communities
in the United States and Mexico before her untimely death at the age of
executives believed Selena was ready to cross-over into
mainstream popularity on the American pop charts when she was murdered
on March 31, 1995 by the president of her fan club and friend.
The film is directed
by Gregory Nava and stars Jennifer Lopez as Selena,
in the breakthrough role of her career. Her father, Abraham
Quintanilla, Jr., who served as executive producer of the movie, is
played by Edward James Olmos. Constance Marie plays
The movie opens with
the grown Selena preparing for what would ultimately be her last
concert in the Houston Astrodome. Standing in front of what one
reporter notes is the largest crowd in the Astrodome's history, she
belts out a medley of disco hits to thunderous cheers.
The movie then flashes back to 1961, when a young Abraham Quintanilla
struggles to find success with his band, "The Dinos." They are
turned out of a whites-only club because they are Mexican and are booed
out of a Mexican club for singing
only in English.
Jumping forward to 1981, Abraham is now married with three
children. Having never lost his desire to join the music industry, he
finds new opportunity to start a band when he hears nine-year-old
Selena's (Rebecca Lee Meza) voice. Selena gives her
first performance at her father's new restaurant called "Papa Gayo's",
where she performs "Over the Rainbow." When the family goes
bankrupt, they lose the restaurant and move in with Abraham's
brother in Corpus Christi, Texas.
For the first several
years of performing, "Selena y Los Dinos" stumble from one
rocky disappointment to another, brought on by the fact that the Tejano
music scene is dominated by men, not to mention initial protests from
Marcella, Selena's mother who wanted a simple life for her
In 1989, When 18-year-old Selena begins incorporating trendy
dance moves and more provocative wardrobe into her routines, she quickly
catches public attention, much to her overprotective father's chagrin,
when she shows her sparkling bra she calls a "bustier."
With their popularity
rising, the band welcomes a new guitarist with a harder edge. Chris
Perez (Jon Seda) and Selena have an immediate attraction, but
it is one that they must keep hidden from Abraham.
When she is older and
performing in Monterrey, Mexico Selena gives an interview
to a television reporter. Due to his experiences in the early 1960s
Abraham explains to his daughter that she is expected to speak in
perfect Spanish on-air, otherwise, Mexicans will not fully
accept her as a performing artist.
however, has confidence and tells her father she "can do it." She charms
the reporters by warmly greeting them individually. At the press
conference, Selena struggles with her Spanish. When she
wants to say to the reporter that her experience in Mexico has
been very "exciting" she instead says "excited" in English,
prompting laughs from the reporters. Yet, while no harm is done,
Abraham's frustration is captured when he says: "We have to be
more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans,
both at the same time! It's exhausting!"
The major conflict of
the film arises from Abraham's objection to Selena and
Chris's love relationship, fearing that Chris's wild
lifestyle will tarnish Selena's reputation and break the strong
connection between the family, when Abraham catches Selena
and Chris hugging on the bus. This is all quickly resolved,
however, when Selena and Chris get married, forcing Abraham to accept
his daughter's marriage.
her boutique business "Selena Etc." and credits her husband and
her fan club manager (who would later be her murderer), for
Although she was
known in the American Latino community, not many in mainstream society
knew of her and this is seen when she and her friend shop at a Los
Angeles mall for a dress. As Selena and her friend look for a
dress they are ignored by the Anglo sales clerk while at the same time
Latino workers nearby recognize her and she draws a huge crowd.
Selena is thrilled and gladly signs autographs for her fans. The
saleswoman, however, who seemingly snubbed Selena earlier, is dumbstruck
attention Selena receives.
Selena wins a
Grammy for her album "Selena Live" and does her first
fashion show and records her English album, which is in the scene at the
recording studio where Selena sings "I Could Fall in Love".
The family later
realizes that someone is stealing money from the fan club. Selena is
told by Abraham and is very upset and decides to confront that person.
The film briefly
deals with her murder, which is shown in a flashback scene when a white
rose is thrown onto the stage while she sings, "Dreaming of You"
and by a close-up of Selena's lifeless hand dropping a ring that
her killer had given her.
The film concludes
with Selena's fans holding pictures of her and candlelight vigils
for her honor. Then the film shows footage of the real Selena at
her real live concerts. The audience then sees a picture of Selena
that says "Selena Quintanilla Pérez 1971-1995."
Trivia & Facts
One scene features
Chris Perez playing the guitar for the family using close-up footage
of his hands and the shot was filmed specifically for the movie.
In a noted stadium
scene, where Selena once performed, the producers used
approximately 35,000 extras, and is arguably the film's centerpiece.
Filming took place at the Alamodome in San Antonio, rather
than the actual concert location: the Astrodome in Houston.
The film is noted for being the fastest produced biopic about an
entertainer after that person's death.
pre-production, Mexican-American activists were highly critical that
Jennifer Lopez, a New York City native born to Puerto
Rican parents, was selected to play Selena. They preferred an
actress with Mexican roots. However, after seeing
portrayal of Selena, they revised their opinions and were more
accepting of Nava's decision.
An original motion picture Selena soundtrack was released by EMI
Latin Records on March 11, 1997. The CD contains twelve tracks including
Selena singing songs heard in the film. The only songs performed
by Selena that were not heard on the film was "Is it the
Beat", "Only Love", and "A Boy Like That", and the
Selena tributes sung by other artists. The only recordings by
Selena heard on the film was the "Cumbia Medley", "Disco
Medley", and "Where Did the Feeling Go?", which was played in
the last half of the closing credits of the film. The Vidal Brothers'
"Oldies Medley" was also on the film. Included are rare
tracks, hits, and cuts like the "Disco Medley, Part II", recorded
live during Selena's 1995 concert at the Houston Livestock
Show and Rodeo.
The film opened in wide release on March 21, 1997 (1,850 theaters) and
sales the opening weekend were $11,615,722. Selena ran for 15
weeks domestically (101 days) and eventually grossed $35,422,828
in the United States. The film sales worldwide were considerably more.
At its widest release the film was shown in 1,873 screens. The
production budget of the film was approximately $20,000,000.
A 10th Anniversary
DVD edition of Selena was released on September 29, 2007 by Warner
Home Video. The two-disk set contains the original theatrical (127
minutes) and a director's cut (134 minutes) of the film. Extras include
a Making of Selena: 10 Years Later featurette, a Queen of Tejano
featurette, and nine additional scenes.
Ebert, film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, was impressed
by the acting, and wrote, "Young Selena is played by Becky
Lee Meza, who has a big smile and a lot of energy. The teenage and
adult Selena is played by Lopez in a star-making performance. After her
strong work as the passionate lover of Jack Nicholson in the
current Blood and Wine, here she creates a completely different
performance, as a loyal Quintanilla who does most of her growing
up on a tour bus with her dad at the wheel."
Film critic Lisa
Kropiewnicki liked the film and wrote, "Jennifer Lopez
delivers a breakout performance...[and] Nava's engaging script wisely
mines his subject's life for humor and conflict, embracing Selena
Quintanilla's passion for music."
Film critic James
Berardinelli also liked the film and the screenplay, writing, "It
would have been easy to trivialize Selena's story, turning it
into a sudsy, made-for-TV type motion picture." He believed
the acting was top notch and wrote "Jennifer Lopez is radiant
as the title character, conveying the boundless energy and enthusiasm
that exemplified Selena, while effectively copying not only her look,
but her mannerisms. I wonder if Selena's family, upon watching
this performance, felt an eerie sense of déjŕ vu."
Los Angeles Times
film critic Kenneth Turan gave the film a mixed review. He wrote
the film is part of a "completely predictable Latino soap opera."
Yet, "there are chunks of Selena that only a stone could resist. This
movie turns out to be a celebration not only of the singer but also (as
"What's Love" was for Angela Bassett) of the actress who plays her,
Some film critics,
however, did not like how the film appears like a sanitized Selena
portrait. Critic Walter Addiego considers Nava's work a
worshipful biography of her. Addiego, writing for the San
Francisco Examiner, did have a few enjoyable moments viewing the
film but wrote, "You can't help cheering for Selena, but the
good feeling is diminished by the sense that her story's been simplified
The review aggregator
Rotten Tomatoes reported that 78% of critics gave the film
a positive review, based on 25 reviews. The review aggregator
metacritic also reported that 66% of critics gave the film a good
Awards: Best Performance by an actress in a Musical or Comedy motion
picture, Jennifer Lopez.
ALMA Awards: The film was nominated for six American Latino Media
Awards (ALMA) and won four.
Grammy Awards: Best Instrumental Composition, Dave Grusin.
MTV Movie Awards: Best Breakthrough Performance, Jennifer Lopez.
as Selena Quintanilla-Pérez
Jackie Guerra as Suzette Quintanilla
Constance Marie as Marcela Quintanilla
Alex Meneses as Sara
Jon Seda as Chris Pérez
Edward James Olmos as Abraham Quintanilla Jr.
Jacob Vargas as A.B. Quintanilla
Lupe Ontiveros as Yolanda Saldivar
Pete Astudillo as himself, Dinos 1990s
Rueben Gonzáles as Joe Ojeda
Rebecca Lee Meza as young Selena
Selena Quintanilla-Pérez as Herself (singing voice) (archive
Victoria Elena Flores as Young Suzette
Rafael Tamayo as Young A.B.
Panchito Gomez as Young Abraham
Seidy López as Deborah
10th Anniversary DVD Site
-- from Wikipedia (edited by T.J.