‘Selena’ The Movie Turns 20, And Jennifer Lopez Is Still One of The Best To Ever Do It
The summer of 1995 was troublesome for many reasons. The summer heat of Jersey City didn’t successfully overwhelm the fact that I was afraid to take the test that would assuage all my fears.
In retrospect — I knew I wasn’t pregnant — I just enjoyed the prospect of the possibility. The guy was Kenyan with Indian blood flowing through his veins and the brashness of an asshole in heat. I was a girl discovering how her body retaliates when impulses and functions go amok.
Back then; the soundtrack to every emotion was secured in disks that annoyingly served as mirrors at the worst and best of times. The face you make when you switch from Garbage to the varied beats of Pulp Fiction would greet or disarm the fairytale in your head.
Also, movies were a huge rush back then because they served as the embodiment of all that you could be if you dared to cast yourself opposite the Swingers or the wedding party in The Best Man. Muriel’s Wedding may be too far a stretch, but your mind can always expand.
I wanted to be an actress when I was twenty-two and then when I turned twenty-four and moved to New York — a gorgeous older lady in her forties instructed me to invest in something called Backstage — and promised that I was a “diamond in the rough” which meant what I didn’t know then, but now realize, fills me with no tears of regret.
Two decades later, I am still that girl standing in the subway station waiting to leave New York for Jersey City, and wondering when life will finally skip to the beat of the drum I made with my bare hands.
There are homegrown stars that sprout to the sky with nothing but dreams — and the audacity to believe that every inch will come true with flashing lights and a red carpet that distributes for miles.
Jennifer Lynn Lopez is the superstar from The Bronx who worked her way to the fold of an industry that still had reservations about people of color infecting an establishment — that thrived from the lily white prospective.
The rebellious one with a body that could move to the breeze of a legendary co-star in Blood and Wine after chiming to the pace of two hotties in Money Train — couldn’t be thwarted with regulations that were meant to dilute passion and fortitude.
Selena Quintanilla was a Texan born Tejano music singer who was just a couple of years younger than me. She was also a fiery talent with the purpose of an agent on a mission. The American Dream has taken many forms and revisions since Selena became a household name — but the fundamentals remain intact.
Nothing can stand in the way of greatness as long as you remain firm in your convictions and belief of what you can accomplish with hard work and a generous work ethic.
Selena works hard. She sells out concerts and she moves to the beat of her own ambition. The stage lights up with every sway as the crowd swells up each time she steps into the limelight of her destiny.
She’s a star!
I bought the spell of manifest with two of her hits — I Could Fall In Love and Dreaming of You.
While researching her again —I stumbled upon this gem that definitely showcases Selena at her finest.
As with every tragic tale, the end steps in with an abrupt warning that life doesn’t guarantee the full run.
Selena at 23, was headed for mind-blowing success and poised to dominate the English-speaking world with her dazzling appeal, but before she was able to conquer vast territories — Yolanda Saldivar, a scheming predator and trusted friend — gunned her down outside a motel in Corpus Christi, after she was terminated for fraudulent activity and theft.
Selena’s death in the spring of 1995, was a painful reminder of the the high price of stardom and all the ways sacrifice can’t be underestimated. The good news is that those who are taken under untimely circumstances can be gorgeously immortalized.
Enter Jennifer Lopez and the role of a lifetime.
Selena, the movie was released in March 21, 1997, which makes it about twenty years old.
Time sure does fly by, but what always remains true is the classic tale of the beauty that transpires when an up and coming actress embodies the realm of a deceased icon and manages to uplift her spirit beyond what could’ve been imagined.
Biopics are a dime a dozen and most of them are shit but the ones that stand the test of time are rated against the performers who were ripe for acknowledgment — which in turn inspires the guttural performances that can’t be fucked with.
Jennifer Lopez gave her all to Selena without holding back or calculating how each word would lead her onto the chest of Ben Affleck or hasten the years of JLo that were already on the way.
No, it was all about honoring a young woman that mirrored her path and struggle to the top. The familiar yearning to prove that being a non-White woman didn’t have to provoke the fear that a Madonna-sized career was unreachable.
Selena ended up being a fitting tribute to a fallen star and also marked the beginning of Lopez’s unstoppable career through the lenses of a director that led the charge to give two unrelated impressionable talents — the gift of discovery.
Selena, is a film that must be seen again by a new audience — especially those of you that have become jaded with assurances of Instagram and the hampering of not comprehending the generic code of starting from the bottom through the veins of a hometown embrace.
It’s a shame that such a gem escapes the possibility of a celebratory theatrical release, because apart from the nostalgic escape — it really would be amazing to witness why it’s unfathomable that Jennifer Lopez didn’t receive the full endorsement from the Award circuit.
But, back then, diversity wasn’t a word with a symbol stamped in front of it for retweets, so her time was limited to a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
The only other film that surpasses Selena is 1993’s What’s Love Got to Do With It — starring the flawless Angela Bassett as the legendary Tina Turner. I will admit that I cried when Bassett lost the Oscar to Holly Hunter.
The Piano? Seriously??
Rest assured that Lopez will always be cherished for seamlessly and fearlessly diving into the fabric of a star that died before her time but not without leaving a catalog of hits and the sad expectation of what could’ve been if only she had survived her fate.
Chris Perez, Selena’s still bereft hobby, finally allowed himself to watch the film for the very first time since the tragic passing of his wife, and he shared his reaction on Facebook:
It must have been a terrifying venture for a young actress on the rise, who had so much to prove and everything to lose if she failed to capture the essence of a beautiful American girl — who gave her all for the glory of the stars that line the flag we currently shit on with causal disdain
Luckily, Lopez lived up to Selena, and twenty years later — the gift of pursuing all that you can be is still alive and well. But, if you find yourself doubting the capacity of the load you must bear under the heat of the lights and the loud applause — unearth the film that will make you believe again and again…