Selena’s Impact 20 Years Later


Photo Courtesy of Cosmopolitan.

If you ask kids these days to tell you about Selena, they’ll probably say something about Selena Gomez. But, if you were to ask Selena Gomez to tell you about Selena, she would probably tell you something about the woman she’s named after, Selena Quintanilla Pérez. Also known as the Queen of Tejano Music, who had her life tragically cut short on March 31, 1995 when her agent, Yolanda Saldivar, shot and killed her.

Tejano Music originates from the Mexican-American cultures in Southern Texas. Selena helped to stretch its sounds across the United States and quickly became a bonafide superstar. She has influenced artists such as Big Sean, Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera, Romeo Santos, Adrienne Bailon, and even Beyoncé. Selena was working on her crossover album, Dreaming of You, at the time of her death. After her album was released on July 18, 1995, Selena became the first Latin female act to top the US Billboard 200. The only other Latin artist to do so since is Jennifer Lopez, the same actress who was chosen to bring Selena to life on the big screen in the 1997 biopic, Selena.

Just last week, Selena celebrated its 20th anniversary on March 21, and the movie continues to play on several television stations throughout the year. The biopic gave Jennifer Lopez her first major film role and catapulted her into superstardom. Jennifer Lopez received a Golden Globe Award nomination for that role and the movie remains the ninth-highest grossing biopic of all time.

Selena gives viewers an opportunity to appreciate the talent, work ethic, and charismatic personality of the Tejano singer. She had been perfecting her distinctive voice since she was a small child and in addition to singing, she designed all of her outfits and choreographed all her own moves.

So why is this movie still relevant 20 years later? Unless you were a fan of the ‘90s television show In Living Color, you probably wouldn’t have heard of JLo, and I honestly don’t know if my childhood would have been complete without “Jenny From the Block” or “Love Don’t Cost a Thing.” Selena showed audience exactly how much work and commitment it takes to become a successful singer in America, especially singing an obscure genre to most of the American population. It wasn’t easy to break into the American market as Tejano singer, but with her songwriting skills, dance moves, and bedazzled bustiers, Selena had America mesmerized by her flair.   

Unfortunately, the untimely death of many young artists such as Tupac Shakur, Kurt Cobain, Aaliyah, and Amy Winehouse often turns them into music icons and leaves those left behind to wonder, “What if…” People often wonder if these young artists would have still been relevant and iconic today. Would they still be in the spotlight or would they have crumbled under the pressure? Would they have continued to keep up with the ever changing trends in music or would they have stayed true to their own artistry?

Whether or not people believe that Selena would still be relevant today, her career has influenced a wide variety of musicians, designers, actors, and regular people like you and me, who continue to watch Selena whenever it comes on TV.