Keeping her memory alive! Selena Quintanilla, known by simply her first name, inspired millions with her music. On March 31, 1995, her life was cut tragically short at age 23, when the budding Mexican pop superstar was fatally shot by the former president of her fan club, Yolanda Saldívar.
Two years later, a then-up-and-comer named Jennifer Lopez had her big breakout role playing the Latina singer in the biopic, Selena. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of Selena’s death, Lopez, 45, spoke with Billboard about the musician’s legacy and impact.
“It has always bugged me that people would try to think that there’s a ‘next Selena,’” the “I Luh Ya Papi” singer said. “It’s like saying there’s another James Dean or Marilyn Monroe. People like that don’t come along every day. There is never going to be another Selena. It’s a special thing that Selena had. That’s why we’re still talking about her 20 years later.”
In fact, Selena’s legacy inspired Lopez to launch her own two decade-spanning music career.
“It had a lot to do with it — all those performances,” she said of her role in the 1997 film. “I sang in musicals before, but as part of a cast, never as a solo artist upfront or a recording artist. It made me realize, ‘Don’t neglect parts of yourself and let people put you in a box because you’re an actress. You can do this, and you can also do that. Life is short, and you don’t know what’s going to happen. Go for your dreams and don’t let anyone hold you back.’”
The American Idol judge, who has a massive following of her own, talked about Selena’s reach and staying power.
“The grace with which she handled the business, the grace with which she handled her life, the humor,” Lopez explained as to why the late artist has made such an impact. “Her spirit of loving what she did. Her sense of family. That’s the tragedy of everything that happened and why she left such an imprint — because she was gone way too soon.”
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