The "American Idol" judge, who notably played the late Tejano singer in the 1997 biopic "Selena," reflected on the "tragedy" of the young star's passing and "why she left such an imprint" during a Q&A with Billboard. She also retweeted several commemorations of the Latin pop star on the 20-year anniversary of her death on Tuesday.
On March 31, 1995, the 23-year-old Mexican-American singer was shot and killed by Yolanda Saldivar after a falling-out over business. Saldivar, the former president of her fan club, is serving a life sentence.
JLo, 45, said that the "Dreaming of You" singer and her performances actually had a hand in allowing her to pursue her successful music career.
"I sang in musicals before, but as part of a cast, never as a solo artist upfront or a recording artist," Lopez told the mag. "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.'"
Friends and family thought that Selena was poised to cross over into the English pop market and was on her way to garnering global pop attention like Gloria Estefan, Madonna or
"It's like saying there's another James Dean or Marilyn Monroe," she said. "People like that don't come along every day. There is never going to be another Selena. And as far as music goes, that's what's beautiful about artistry. Somebody is going to come along and move the world in a different way."
Instead, Lopez focused on the contributions of other mainstream Latino stars like Estefan and the late Celia Cruz, whom Lopez honored with a tribute performance during the 2013 American Music Awards.
"I'm still around," she added. "Marc Anthony is an iconic Latin artist, Ricky Martin. But it's not something that happens all the time. It's a special thing that Selena had. That's why we're still talking about her 20 years later."
Meanwhile, Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla, told the Associated Press that his family has mixed feelings about all the celebrations in his daughter's memory.
"Of course I'm happy that, today, people remember Selena more than ever," he said. "But, as Jehovah's Witnesses, we don't celebrate deaths or birthdays, and we don't want people to think we're behind all the festivities."
Quintanilla said that the events have been growing but his family isn't organizing them.
"Our family never got together every year on the day of her murder, because there's nothing to celebrate, and this year won't be the exception," he said. "We remember our daughter every single day. We don't need a special day to remember her."
However, the family is helping launch the first Festival de La Flor in their hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas. The festival will feature his son A.B. Quintanilla and the Kumbia King All Starz as well as Selena's widower Chris Perez of Los Dinos, AP said.