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‘Selena’ turns 25: Jennifer Lopez celebrates ‘the magic that is this movie’

Jennifer Lopez singing in a white dress
Jennifer Lopez as Selena Quintanilla in “Selena.”
(Warner Bros.)
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Twenty-five years after “Selena” hit theaters on March 21, 1997, Jennifer Lopez fondly revisited her acclaimed performance as the late Tejano icon.

In honor of the biopic turning 25, Lopez posted a series of clips from the film as well as soundbites from interviews discussing her star-making turn as Selena Quintanilla, who was killed two years before the movie premiered.

“What a very special day,” Lopez wrote Monday on Instagram.

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“Today we celebrate and honor Selena’s legacy and music. This movie means so much to me … Selena and her family mean so much to me, and I was so lucky to be chosen to play her. I’ll never forget this time in my life and it’s an honor as an artist to have been part of the magic that is this movie.”

To mark Selena Quintanilla’s 50th birthday, Friday’s Selena Day celebrates the late Tejano star with fan tributes and a new Smithsonian photo collection.

April 16, 2021

Among the footage Lopez shared was a snippet of her 1997 appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” The performer, who was 27 at the time, appeared on the hit daytime program alongside the Quintanilla family to talk about honoring the trailblazing entertainer on the big screen.

Selena’s loved ones were on set “every day,” Lopez told Winfrey at the time. “It was tough, but I knew I had a tough job ahead of me. From the second I got the role, it was nonstop. I was working on another movie at the time, and in my trailer, it was music all day, videos all day just to really absorb who she was.

“She was a very, very happy and alive person. I just absorbed as much as I could of her, tried to understand what made her tick, what made her happy, what made her sad — things that were important in her life ... Don’t get me wrong, it was nerve-wracking. But having them there and having them care about the project was a beautiful thing for me.”

My girlfriend loved Selena because the tejano star couldn’t quite roll her Rs in Spanish.

April 7, 1997

In another, more recent interview, Lopez recalled a piece of advice she received from her onscreen father, Edward James Olmos — who portrayed Abraham Quintanilla — after tirelessly studying Selena’s every move out of fear of messing up. Before starring in “Selena,” Lopez had acted only in a handful of movies and still had yet to release her debut studio album.

Olmos “came to me and said, ‘You know everything. Just let it go. Don’t think — just let it go and be,’” Lopez remembered. “And we filmed that big scene in the Astrodome with the purple outfit, and it was magic. But you have to let go at some point. You have to let go of everything and just do your thing.”

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The Quintanilla family is working on a 13-track record that will have the vocals of a young Selena digitally altered to sound older.

March 17, 2022

The quarter-century milestone comes shortly after Abraham Quintanilla revealed that his family is collaborating with Warner Music on a new Selena album. The record will feature the voice of young Selena, digitally edited to sound “like she did right before she passed away” — a controversial approach that has sparked debate among the Tejano legend’s loyal fans.

To commemorate the film’s silver anniversary, the Quintanilla family also announced this month that “Selena” is returning to theaters across the country April 7. Exact locations and showtimes have yet to be announced.

Four L.A. Times staffers discuss Selena’s tragically unfinished crossover album, ‘Dreaming of You,’ her love of American R&B and where all the ‘new Selenas’ are

Dec. 10, 2020

In another clip from the “Selena” press tour resurfaced by Lopez, the “Let’s Get Loud” hitmaker reflected on what Selena meant to the Latinx community, as well as how she came to embody the musician through her movement, vocals and wardrobe.

“One of the huge appeals of Selena and one of the reasons she was so hugely popular was because she didn’t change herself,” Lopez said.

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“Sometimes when you turn on Spanish television, you see a lot of women with their hair dyed blond and all this stuff, and Selena wasn’t like that. She would stand up there, and you would look up at her, and if you were Latin in the audience, you’ll go, ‘That’s me. That’s me up there. That’s what I look like.’ She was just herself, and that was enough ... to get her there.”

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