One of my earliest memories of my life is watching the movie “Selena”. I was living in California at the time and one of my mom’s coworkers told her about the movie and said that she had to watch it. So she, my sister and I sat on the couch and watched the film for the first time. I remember being mesmerized by the character of Selena. Her laugh, her dancing, her clothes and, of course, her voice. I had never seen anything like what was happening in front of me before (granted I was four and hadn’t seen much of anything). It wasn’t until the movie ended that I realized that Selena wasn’t a character. Selena was a real person being portrayed on screen by a woman named Jennifer Lopez. The real Selena was no longer alive, for reasons I didn’t understand at the time. I remember watching my sister cry over learning that Selena had died, as we had both felt a connection with Selena.
It’s strange to think that was 18 years ago. Since then, I’ve watched Selena more times than I can count, listen to Selena’s music like I’m fluent in Spanish and have learned almost every public thing there is to know about her. I’ve written papers for class about Selena and read multiple books about her life, including my favorite, “To Selena, With Love” by her husband, Chris. Selena has been more than an artist to me, she’s been a prominent figure in my life. Even though our cultures are different and I don’t understand all of her music, Selena’s voice speaks to me in ways that no other musician could.
It’s been 20 years since her death, and I often wonder how much of a role Selena would’ve played in my life had she lived. Would I even know who she was? Would I have liked her music? I would like to think that I would. At the time of her death, Selena was working on a crossover album, of which songs like “I could fall in love” and “Dreaming of You” were recorded. I think had Selena lived, this crossover album would’ve done more than skyrocketed her career. This album would’ve put her in the Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson and Madonna conversations. She would’ve reached the American audience the same way she did with the Mexican one, which was no small feat at the time. I could see her going into acting and furthering her career in fashion, which was one of her biggest passions.
Even though we’ll never truly know what Selena could’ve done, her influence before her death hasn’t gone unnoticed. She’s reached fans from all over the world in the 20 years since her death. Many artists have emulated her style and dance moves over the years and her legacy will continue for 20 more years, if her current fans have anything to say about it. Selena will always have a special place and my heart and is truly “La Reina”.