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New Selena series shows how family fueled rise of Queen of Tejano music

"We really wanted to understand the emotions behind what it took to make an icon," executive producer Jaime Dávila says of the new Netflix show.

SAN ANTONIO — Selena is about to get back in the spotlight: Fans are highly anticipating the release of a new Netflix series showcasing the life of the queen of Tejano music.

"Selena: The Series" is a Netflix scripted drama focusing on the backstory of what it took for a star to be born.

"So, when people ask me sort of like, 'Why now?' ... a big part of it is, 'Why not?'" executive producer Jaime Dávila said. "I think a lot of people don't know the full story."

San Antonio native Ricardo Chavira, who plays Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla, said he has never seen the movie "Selena" and didn't want to see it while preparing for his role on the new show.

"I didn't want that to affect my decision-making as an actor," he said.

However, Chavira said this role means a lot to him.

"It is extremely special," he said. "It is part of my identity."

He said he did study Selena's father by watching old interview clips.

"My God, this guy sounds and looks like any one of my tíos," he said. "My dad. All the guys I grew up with."

Credit: NETFLIX © 2020
SELENA THE SERIES (L to R) CHRISTIAN SERRATOS as SELENA QUINTANILLA in episode 101 of SELENA THE SERIES Cr. NETFLIX © 2020

The show is split into two parts. The first half, which will be released Dec. 4, highlights the beginning of Selena's rise. It shows the family's struggles to start and survive in the music industry. 

"It was very important for us to make the family a shining light force of the series," Dávila said.

"Like how hard of a struggle this was for them," Chavira said. "And how hard it is of a struggle for any Mexican American family to simply exist sometimes."

Selena's sister Suzette is even an executive producer on the show.

"We really wanted to tell an authentic story," Dávila said. "We really wanted to get the truth. We really wanted to understand the emotions behind what it took to make an icon."

Credit: Sara Khalid/NETFLIX
SELENA THE SERIES (L to R) JUAN MARTINEZ as YOUNG A.B QUINTANILLA and RICARDO CHAVIRA as ABRAHAM QUINTANILLA and MADISON TAYLOR BAEZ as YOUNG SELENA QUINTANILLA and SEIDY LOPEZ as MARCELLA QUINTANILLA and DANIELA ESTRADA as YOUNG SUZETTE QUINTANILLA in SELENA THE SERIES Cr. Sara Khalid/NETFLIX © 2020

University of Texas at San Antonio professor Sonya Alemán teaches a course called "Selena: A Mexican American Identity & Experience."

"I am so happy that it is happening at UTSA," said Alemán, who also has seen part of the new show before its release.

"This just feels so Mexican American," she said. "It just makes me really happy and proud. I really hope for that spark and that moment where you just feel seen."

Her course looks at the life of the superstar and what it is like being Mexican American. She said the show hits the high note highlighting both. Alemán said Selena's popularity decades later isn't solely based on her image or music.

"I think it is because she continues to serve as a point of representation that hasn't been filled by other efforts," she said. "We haven't had anyone take the stage and claim that presence in the way that she did for us."

Credit: Michael Lavine NETFLIX © 2020
SELENA THE SERIES (L to R) CARLOS ALFREDO JR. as JOE OJEDAand HUNTER REESE PENA as RICKY VELA and NOEMI GONZALEZ as SUZETTE QUINTANILLA and CHRISTIAN SERRATOS as SELENA QUINTANILLA and GABRIEL CHAVARRIA as A.B QUINTANILLA and JESSE POSEY as CHRIS PEREZ in Trailer of SELENA THE SERIES Cr. Michael Lavine/NETFLIX © 2020

The new Netflix show is a prime example of the continued love for the queen. The creators and stars hope fans will fall in love.

"I really want our community to see themselves reflected on the screen," Dávila said. "And what an amazing story to do it with: Selena and the Quintanilla family. Grab your tías and all your abuelas. Get together and watch the show! Enjoy it!"

The first half of the series released on December 4 will feature nine episodes.

Dávila said they've also wrapped up production on the second half. A release date for those episodes has not been announced.

MORE: Full interview with executive producer Jaime Dávila and actor Ricardo Chavira, who plays Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla