Time doesn’t heal all wounds. Two decades after Selena‘s tragic death at age 23, fans still mourn the Tejano singer’s untimely passing. Case in point? By the end of Jennifer Lopez‘s tribute performance at the 2015 Billboard Latin Music Awards, half the crowd — including Lopez herself — was in tears.
“She’s just one of those very special types of artists that, with her music and her spirit and her joy and her heart, really touched people,” the American Idol judge, 45, told the Today show’s Natalie Morales at the star-studded event on Thursday, April 30.
J.Lo’s connection to Selena is especially significant. Though she’d been on the scene before, the In Living Color Fly Girl didn’t really break out until she played the late performer in 1997’s Selena.
“The impact that it had on my life, my career…It was a great thing for her to be my mentor, in a way, and to teach me so much about, yes, how to navigate this business, but also how to navigate through life,” the “Booty” singer told Morales of her experience on the movie.
“You never know what’s gonna happen,” she added later. “You have to live in the moment, you have to be present, you have to seize the day. So I decided right after that movie to make my first record. And I did.”
Lopez knows how lucky she is to have the career she has now, especially seeing old footage of Selena onstage. “If she was here, she’d be doing what I’m doing right now,” she said.
“It’s a sad story. It still gets me to this day. It really did mark my life at that time,” she continued, tearing up. “And to get to know the family and to work with them everything…it was an important part of my life. It still is.”
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