Nearly 23 years after her death, a new show inspired by Selena Quintanilla's life is coming to TV. According to Deadline, ABC picked up a pilot for a series that will focus on Selena's legacy as one of the most iconic Mexican-American pop stars in history. The show won't be biographical, however, but will instead pull from her life. Variety reported that the Selena-inspired series is a family drama about a Latina pop star who returns to her hometown in Texas to reconnect with her relatives. But the series won't just celebrate Selena. It will also give viewers the still-rare chance to celebrate a Latinx family on the small screen.
The currently untitled series will be written by Miguel Nolla, who's worked on Grey's Anatomy (executive producer: Betsy Beers) and Scandal (executive producer: Shonda Rhimes), and will be executive produced by Scooter Braun, best known as Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande's manager. The series will also be produced by Selena's siblings Abraham Quintanilla, Jr., and Suzette Quintanilla Arriaga. There is word yet on who will play the lead in the series, but, in a statement published by USA Today, Selena's sister Suzette said they were,
"...excited to come on board as producers on an ABC music driven, Latino family drama that celebrates Selena’s musical legacy with a lead character whose music and career is inspired by Selena."
The drama will focus on Alex Guerra, a successful pop star who has distanced herself from her family. After five years away, Alex returns home to Texas, but she finds herself "juggling a love triangle, the demands of her career, and the dark secrets of the family that she now desperately wants to win back." Considering a writer from Shondaland is in charge, there's going to be a lot of drama and a high probability of tears. There's also a chance for really good music, since Fader reported the Selena-inspired series will "have a heavy musical focus."
While her life is only the inspiration for this show, it's not the first time the pop star's legacy has inspired a project. Two years after the 23-year-old Selena was murdered in 1995 at the hands of the former president of her fan club, Yolanda Saldivar, her life was turned into a movie starring Jennifer Lopez. Her portrayal of the singer, who is one of the biggest Latino crossover stars of all time, would launch her movie career.
Since then, there have been reports of TV shows inspired by Selena, whose posthumous English-language album Dreaming of You made her the first Latin artist to debut at the top of the Billboard 200 chart. Last year, Telemundo announced it was producing the mini-series El Secreto de Selena, based on the best-selling book of the same name by María Celeste Arrarás that claims to tell "the revealing story behind [Selena's] tragic death." However, after a trailer for the Selena series leaked last June, People reported that fans were "disturbed" and "outraged by the graphic content."
There's also been a musical based on Selena's life called Selena: Forever that was first staged in Texas in 2000, but closed a month later because of poor ticket sales. In 2015, it was also reported that a Selena hologram was in the works. While not every Selena venture has gone well, last year Selena earned a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.
In Lopez's opinion, the reason Selena has continued to inspire so many is simple. As she told Billboard two years ago on the 20th anniversary of Selena's passing:
"The grace with which she handled the business, the grace with which she handled her life, the humor. Her spirit of loving what she did. Her sense of family. That's the tragedy of everything that happened and why she left such an imprint — because she was gone way too soon."
But, Selena aside, this new drama will hopefully inspire more networks to greenlight shows that star Latinx characters. While shows like Jane The Virgin and Netflix's One Day At a Time have been heralded for their portrayals of Hispanic families, there are too few of these kinds of shows on TV.
The 2017 Hollywood Diversity Report found that Latino actors only made up 5 percent of the share of roles by race on broadcast TV and only 7 percent of the share of roles of race on cable scripted shows. White actors made up 76 percent and 79 percent, respectively, in those same categories. And, when Latinx characters are on television, a 2017 study by the immigration nonprofit Define America found that half of the Latino immigrants on television are portrayed as criminals.
“This project gives us all an opportunity to showcase a successful, aspirational Latino family in a way that is not currently represented on television,” Jaime Davila, president of Campanario Entertainment, who will also executive produce the project, stated in a news release posted on USA Today. While there's no official word on when the series could debut, for those looking for TV to reflect more of our diverse world, it couldn't come soon enough.