Selena: The Series arrived on Netflix last December. The first installment of the series was viewed by 25 million households according to the streamer, ensuring that the legendary singer’s on-screen journey is far from finished. Part 2 is scheduled to debut on Tuesday, May 4.
There are many reasons for the series’ popularity. Latino culture is defined by many elements; family, food, entertainment and most of all music. If you’ve ever been to a Tejano music concert then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Joy and sadness all filled up in the same space. Music has the capability to deeply connect with us in profound ways that can’t always be explained but only felt.
Selena transformed the world so deeply with her beats, dances, lyrics, and voice. Twenty-six years later, we can still feel the impact from the Queen of Tejano music.
Selena was the youngest daughter of the Quintanilla family, she debuted on the music scene in 1981 as a member of the band Selena y Los Dinos, which also included her elder siblings A.B. Quintanilla and Suzette Quintanilla.
She was met much resistance, being in male-dominated music genre, but still continued to shatter glass ceilings after she won the Tejano Music Award for Female Vocalist of The Year in 1987.
In 1992 Selena released Entre a Mi Mundo, which peaked at number one on the US Billboard Regional Mexican Albums chart for eight consecutive months. She continued to gain more success in her career including an English crossover album, model, actress, business woman and fashion designer.
On March 31, 1995 Selena’s life was taken by her Fan Club President, Yolanda Saldivar. Selena revolutionized Tejano music and culture. Her story and music continues to be the most celebrated in our decade.
For those who didn’t get to experience the generation of Selena in the 80’s and 90’s, one writer recreated and is sharing her story and impact. Selena: The Series Part 1 took us on an intimate journey with the Quintanilla family, and the rise of superstar.
Reel 360 sat down with the Creator and Co-Showrunner Moisés Zamora to find out what fans and audiences can expect from Part 2 of Selena: The Series. He shares what filming was like during the pandemic, his personal connection to telling Selena Quintanilla’s story, her legacy that remains the anchor to her music, and how to bet on yourself as a Mexican-American in the entertainment industry.
Moisés Zamora is a Mexican-American, award-winning writer and filmmaker. He’s the Creator / Executive Producer / Co-Showrunner of Selena: The Series for Netflix. He has written for the Emmy-winning drama American Crime, and Star on Fox.
He won the Binational Literary Prize for Young Novel Border of Words in Mexico for his Spanish-language novel. He was twenty-five years old. In 2011, he received the award for Best Documentary by a Mexican Director at the Oaxaca Film Fest. He’s from El Limón, Jalisco, Mexico.
After a challenging year in the unexpected 2020 pandemic, television came to a halt. Storytellers spent time regrouping the new reality and how to continue production while integrating face-mask wearing, social distancing, and making scenes to continue to work.
Moisés shares, “It was a bit overwhelming at the beginning, but I found that focusing on my writing and using the lock down as an opportunity to develop my own stories I was able to create a production company with Bianca Quesada called Zone One, that launched almost a year ago.”
As their stories continue to develop, we jumped into learning more about his personal connection to Selena, “Selena’s music was always a part of the family. I was the one kid my Tia’s would grab on the dance floor, they went to her concerts, so it became a part of my upbringing. When she passed away, it didn’t make sense to us. But more of the world started to find out more about her and her music.” When asked what his personal favorite song of Selena he shares, “ My favorite song to karaoke to is Que Creías, but I do have a confession; During the writing of Selena, my morning alarm was Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” he humbly laughs.
We both share our love for her music and upbringing to Selena, and he mention how important it is to recognize how powerful Selena’s authentic presence and music is, and the lasting effect that makes her songs stay with you.
When asked if there was any delay in the release due to the pandemic, Zamora says, “ It did not delay the release, but we did have to shut down production for Season 2, but picked up a few months later with new protocol. We got really lucky, we filmed in Rosarito, so filming with the actors was easy to contain.”
The inspiration to tell Selena’s story was an important topic that we didn’t want to miss out on, Moisés shares, “ What drew me to tell Selena’s story was the parallel that I identified with as a Mexican-American and trying to explain my identity. What made a difference and positioned me in my career was I had to write in Spanish, publish a whole novel in Spanish before I felt empowered to do it in English.”
He continues, “The connection to Selena of having to teach herself Spanish, and write at a literary level in Spanish, I connected with. Why do we have to do that in America? It’s a lack of opportunity and that really resonates. When dreaming of you was released, I resonated with that crossover. I grew up a Mexican immigrant, my Mexican identity was separate from my American identity. The impact Selena made in her legacy made those worlds come together. I’m not just Mexican or American, I am a Mexican- American. That in itself is American. To be whole and happy to have these qualities instead of feeling like I don’t fit anywhere. She represents that.”
Our last topic was, What is the theme for this season? And when we know how this story ends, where do you find the drama?
Zamora explains, “ How do you rise to become a superstar without the help of the people who got you there. How do you become independent without ending up alone. It’s the idea that she was ahead of her time and worked really hard to bet on herself. Her brothers and even husband Chris didn’t understand what she was doing. Personally I am still taking queues. I see her as a role model, she didn’t wait for anyone to come offer her a seat. She made things happen for herself. We’re gonna do the same as a result with Zone One Productions. There are those paths. You just have to believe in yourself with people who support you. If you don’t have that, you still have to bid on yourself.”
He concludes, “ In Season 1 there is a specific tone to it, family and wholesome. Season 2 fans and audiences will notice a shift in tone that will remain inspirational and positive. We are making things more realistic, they’re adults, challenges are getting real. More of Yolanda is introduced, the menace of wanting too much from her. Confusing friendship with entitlement to her life. That’s the dangers of a public figure who can be so generous, and is almost punished for it. She was so giving and so generous. We are gonna try to deliver the drama but also focus on her generosity and her spirit. The family was really adamant about that. Also for us, we didn’t want to focus too much on her murder, it felt like it would take away from what her story was really was about. We are not shying away from it, but we also don’t want to take away from the sunshine that she really was.”
Part 2 of Selena: The Series is releasing on Tuesday May 4, 2021 on Netflix. The show stars; Christina Serratos, Gabriel Chavarria, Ricardo Chavira, Seidy Lopez, Noemi Gonzalez, Hunter Reese Peña, Carlos Alfredo Jr., Jesse Posey, and Natasha Perez.
Jessica Velle reports on entertainment, politics, social media and stories relevant to the Latinx community. She can be reached at Jessica@reel360.com.