In 2019, when I was still at RS, @rosa_e_sanchez pitched a story about Selena impersonators getting cease and desist letters for their acts. She interviewed Chris Pérez, and many other artists across the U.S., with the question: Who owns Selena's legacy?https://t.co/AO64ZqfRLg— Suzy Exposito (@HexPositive) April 30, 2021
As part two of Netflix's questionable Quintanilla family approved miniseries premieres, Rolling Stone magazine's Rosa Sanchez examines Selena Quintanilla Perez's complicated legacy after her 1995 murder. Interviewing fans and widower Chris Perez, Sanchez explores how Selena's family's sabotaged the legacy of a beloved Latina icon in favor of revisionism and cash grabs.
- Fans have complained about the Netflix series, which is more focused on the male Quintanilla members. Abraham, Selena's father, is shown as a stern but gentle loving father, even though his reputation is more nasty, money-hungry and controlling (Selena's former teacher testified Abraham pulled the kids out of school after she expressed concerns over Selena falling asleep in class after doing a night show as a child). While fans are happy forgotten band members have their moments, they are upset Selena is treated as more of a side character, or even just as an employee of her dad’s band.
- In the series, Selena is portrayed as an innocent, soft-spoken, perfect daughter who is more interested in her parents’ approval than in her own life. The depiction is far different than in the Jennifer Lopez film, which Chris says is more accurate of Selena's actual personality. Selena’s mom Marcella is also underdeveloped, as is Chris, who is treated as a minor character (fans were also angered part two portrayed the famously shy Chris as jealous of Selena's success, when the opposite was true).
- Selena’s brother, A.B. Quintanilla, has bad blood with many impersonators and fans. He routinely blocks fan accounts and blasts impersonators on social media. Selena fan accounts on Instagram and Facebook have gotten the cold shoulder from the family, even getting shut down.
- Chris, currently in a legal battle with Abraham in order to gain control over his story and money, is nervous over how he'll be portrayed in part two even though he's glad he told his side in his book. Two months after Selena's death, Abraham had coerced a grieving Chris to sign his rights away to protect Selena's legacy and finances and Chris did so, trusting him. Chris says the current battle is not about family but business, since trying to be nice didn't work for 25 years. “I kind of feel like I’m in a situation where I can’t [back down]. I already did it once and certain things have gone down a certain type of way and I’m not gonna do it that same way again.”
- Many Selena impersonators and tribute bands have received threatening letters and cease and desist letters from Abraham and Q Productions over their acts, especially when money is being made. He has left acts which perform for free alone. The family accuses performers of “unauthorized exploitation” of Selena’s name, and claim their use of it could “cause irreparable harm and/or dilution” to Selena's brand. By the way, you can buy official cheap and tacky tumblers with Selena's image from your local gas stations as well as ugly shirts from Forever 21!
- Selena's fans are upset over the legal actions taken against impersonators, art, products and song covers because they consider that to be her enduring legacy getting sabotaged. Fans feel while the Quintanilla family happily profits off royalties, funko pops and a make up collection, they punish fans who wish to celebrate Selena their own way. They've also noted how the Quintanilla family stops Chris from making money on his life with Selena, yet uses his book for scenes in the Netflix series.
- Chris, regarding Selena tributes and fan accounts, says he understands why people see her as a symbol for the Latino community. “I think it’s because of what she represents, which is strong morals, family, hard work ethic, you know, she was a good person all the way around, and we already know how talented she was. So, if that’s how people want to use her image or treat it, I mean, I think it’s a good thing.”
- Abraham, Suzette, A.B Quintanilla and reps from Q Productions and Selena's estate declined to comment for the story.