It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 20 years since Selena Quintanilla was tragically murdered.
Though time has marched on since her death, Selena still remains beloved. Jennifer Lopez paid tribute to the singer at the Billboard Latin Music Awards on April 30, performing a variety of Selena’s hits alongside her actual family band, Los Dinos, according to Billboard.
It’s not the first time Lopez has immortalized the star. We all remember when she brought Selena to life in the 1997 eponymously titled film about the Queen of Tejano music’s life. “Her magical interpretation of Selena on the big screen has made a definite mark on her creative life,” Mexican singer Pedro Fernández said of Lopez during the awards on Thursday. It’s true, Lopez seamlessly stepped into the role and upon closer inspection, it becomes evident as to why she might have been able to take on the task: Selena and Lopez have a lot in common.
1. Groundbreaking Latina stars
Selena and Lopez both achieved superstardom and had to overcome some of the same hurdles getting there. The Tejano music scene, or the Texas Mexican music scene, was dominated by men. It’s reported that Selena and the rest of her band were often denied the opportunity to perform in venues because she was the lead singer. Selena pressed on, and was named Female Vocalist of the Year at the Tejano Music Awards in 1987 and the nine consecutive years after, according to CBS News. In addition, she also won Song of the Year and Record of the Year in 1995, just months before her death. Many believe that Selena’s success and premature death helped open doors for other Hispanic artists like Shakira, Ricky Martin and even Lopez.
Lopez herself faced challenges coming up as a Hispanic artist in the U.S., but broke a record the year after she starred in her first lead role as Selena. For 1998’s Out of Sight, Lopez commanded $1,000,000, making her the highest-paid Latina actress of all time.
2. Crossover success
Selena and Lopez have both managed to engage both English and Spanish-speaking audiences. Selena’s posthumous crossover success was profound: her English-speaking album, Dreaming of You, debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200, making it the first album by a Hispanic artist to ever do so, according to Billboard. It also made Selena the third female artist in history to sell over 300,000 units in one week, after fellow icons Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
Lopez, who has built her singing career on English albums, debuted her Spanish album, Coma Ama una Mujer, in 2007. It debuted in the top 10 of the Billboard 200, making Lopez one in a group of only eight performers to have a Spanish album do so. Selena is also one of the eight.
There’s no arguing the fact that both Selena and Lopez can be considered trailblazers when it comes to clothing, so it’s not a surprise that the two stars have also experimented in the fashion industry as well. In 1994, Selena began designing her own clothes and opened two boutiques called Selena Etc in Corpus Christi and San Antonio, Texas, with plans to open more shops abroad.
Lopez also has several clothing lines, including JLo by Jennifer Lopez and Jennifer Lopez Clothing for Kohl’s.
Lopez, born July 24, 1969, was born less than two years before Selena, whose birthday is April 16, 1971. The two also share significance with their 23rd year: they were the same age when Lopez started refusing to be a backup dancer to pursue a solo career, and Selena finally recorded her English-speaking album.
5. Coca Cola
Both Selena and Lopez were spokespeople for the Coke. Check out their spots below.
6. Album sales
As of 2012, Selena had sold over 60 million albums worldwide, according to NBC, and MTV reports that Lopez is neck and neck, sitting at over 60 million albums sold as well.
Selena came from a humble upbringing, which may account for her philanthropic efforts after she achieved success. In addition to being extremely active in the U.S. Latino community, she also supported organizations such as Toys for Tots, D.A.R.E. and the Boys and Girls Club of Texas.
Like Selena, Lopez likes to give back to the community. In 2009, Lopez founded the Lopez Family Foundation with her sister, Lynda. The nonprofit organization focuses on increasing the availability of quality health care and health care education for underserved mothers and their children, according to their website.