In this 1997 segment for MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams, Larry Weidman previews the release of Selena, a Hollywood biopic starring Jennifer Lopez as the late Tejano music singer. Reporting from her hometown of Corpus Christi, he highlights Selena's enduring legacy with her fans and the movie's potential importance to Latinx filmmakers.
Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was born in 1971 in Lake Jackson, Texas, to Abraham and Marcella Quintanilla. Her career began at eight years old, when she started playing in her father's Tejano family band, Los Dinos. In 1981, the family moved to Corpus Christi, the heart of Tejano music, where the band changed its name to Selena y Los Dinos.
Selena y Los Dinos was widely received in both Texas and Mexico (and later in the larger Spanish-speaking world), winning several awards for Tejano and Spanish-language music. The band popularized Tejano music, which was previously unrecognized outside of the Texas/Northern Mexico areas.
In 1992, Selena married Chris Pérez, a guitarist and member of her band. The marriage was kept a secret from her family for some time, as her father did not approve of their relationship. The Quintanilla family was finally able to accept the relationship, and Pérez continued to play in the band.
In 1994, Selena y Los Dinos won a Grammy Award for the album Selena Live. Before her death, the band sold 1.5 million records. That same year, Selena opened a fashion boutique and salon, Selena, Etc., and planned to open up locations in Monterrey, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.
On March 31, 1995, Selena was fatally shot in the back by her friend, fan club president, and Selena Etc. manager Yolanda Saldivar. The Quintanilla family had come to suspect Saldivar of stealing money from them, and on the day of the shooting, Selena was meeting with Saldivar to exchange paperwork and talk about the theft.
Selena's funeral drew attention from across the globe, with candlelit vigils and memorials taking place all over the Spanish-speaking world. The sensational trial of Yolanda Saldivar in 1995 was likened by some to the O.J. Simpson murder trial in 1994. Saldivar was found guilty of murder, and received the maximum sentence: life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years.