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Christian Serratos on Portraying Selena in New Netflix Series: 'It Was So Surreal for Me'

Christian Serratos
Courtesy Netflix

Christian Serratos as Selena in Selena: The Series on Netflix.

The highly-awaited Selena: The Series is finally making its way to Netflix on Friday, Dec. 4.

Starring Christian Serratos as the late Mexican-American singer, the series was developed and executive produced by the Quintanilla family alongside Netflix. Part one of the two-part series comes 23 years after the release of the Oscar-nominated biographical movie Selena directed by Gregory Nava and starring Jennifer Lopez.

According to the trailer's official description, the series "explores her journey from singing small gigs to becoming the most successful female Latin artist of all time -- and the years of hard work and sacrifice the Quintanilla family navigated together.”

Joining Serratos in the cast are Ricardo Chavira, who will co-star as Selena’s father Abraham; Gabriel Chavarria as her brother A.B.; Noemi Gonzalez as her sister Suzette; Seidy Lopez as her mother Marcella; and Madison Taylor Baez as young Selena.

Billboard chatted with the leading actress, who opened up about the series, challenges, Selena's legacy and more. Read the Q&A below.

Congrats on being cast as Selena in the upcoming series. How did this great opportunity come about?

I heard about the project and I was asked to tape. I auditioned for some months and I sent in some scenes and songs. It was a pretty long process, and I’m kinda glad that it was because I had time to prepare for it. I basically acted as if I had the role before I had it, and I hired a dialect coach and a vocal coach, a personal trainer … researching and preparing on my own so I wasn’t behind by the time I got the news.

Portraying the Queen of Tejano are some big shoes to fill. How did you prepare yourself for this role?

I watched everything that I could. Social media was such a huge help. Finding as much rare footage as I could. I grew up watching Selena’s performances, but I wanted to do a deeper dive and really just pay attention. I think what made her so famous was her spirit and her heart. That’s what I think created that legacy.

What would you say was the biggest challenge?

I think that’s what’s exciting about the first season. Even though I was a huge Selena fan, there was still so much to learn. I was really caught off guard. I thought I knew every Selena song, but then I got the catalog and a lot of songs I have never heard before. I’m excited for new Selena fans to learn more about her and to hear most of these songs. There were definitely challenges, but you kinda need those challenges to ensure that you’re working as hard as you can and being as diligent as you should be.

During filming, did you have the chance to personally meet anyone from the Quintanilla family or Los Dinos?

I had the opportunity to speak to Suzette recently and she was lovely, and I’m very grateful for them giving me the opportunity to portray their family member. It was everything that I wanted it to be.

What's your earliest memory of Selena Quintanilla?

Dancing around to “Baila Esta Cumbia” or “Techno Cumbia” and watching her shows! Seeing her stage presence was always so magical to me. You almost feel entranced, and that’s a lot of what made her an icon because she was able to make all of her fans feel so connected to her. She was us. She felt like a sister, a friend, and I remember seeing that and thinking how cool she was.

How has Selena influenced your career specifically?

She has created a path for herself when it was arguably difficult for Latinas. Being a woman in the industry is super tricky, but she managed to be incredibly powerful, strong, and resilient and [to] be a pioneer while being incredibly gracious, and I always thought that was so beautiful.

What are some of your favorite Selena songs?

The songs that stuck with me throughout the filming process were actually the songs that I learned while filming, like “Besitos.” I’ve always been a huge fan of songs like “Si Una Vez,” “Que Creias?” We got to perform a lot of my favorite songs, so it was definitely a dream come true.

Were there any specific scenes that made you emotional?

A lot of them. Playing Selena was so surreal for me and it hit close to home because I had so much respect for her. A lot of the time I found myself very emotional and having to hold back those emotions, especially when I sang “No Me Queda Mas.” It seemed to have an effect on our crew, and that was so powerful to me.

What are your expectations with Selena: The Series?

I really don’t have any expectations. I want people to enjoy it. To see how much hard work and care we’ve put into this. I want them to see the attention to detail, but I really want them to see Selena and get lost in the story and really empathize with our characters. I think as actors that’s all we really hope for.

Netflix Unveils Release Date, New Trailer for 'Selena: The Series' | THR News