On March 21, 1997, the true story of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez hit theaters with Jennifer Lopez playing the iconic Texas-born Tejano singer. And now, 23 years to the day, Lopez is paying her respects once more with a poignant new video tribute to her “inspiration.” Published on Saturday morning, the video features a behind-the-scenes look at the biographical film Selena and some heartrending commentary from Lopez about its lasting impact on her.
Selena, known by fans as the “Queen of Tejano,” was tragically murdered on March 31, 1995, at the tender age of 23. Two years later, her story would make it to the big screen with Lopez slipping into Selena’s larger-than-life character. “I just go right back to the beginning of the movie and the first day of shooting and really trying to find the essence of who she was,” Lopez reminisced in the video tribute. “She was an artist, and she was singing from the time she was nine years old, maybe younger. Learning how she sang, all her mannerisms and how she danced — studying the tape of her became really important.”
Throughout the three-minute-long video celebration of Selena’s legacy, rare glimpses into filming the biopic flash by. Various interview clips of Lopez speaking about Selena reveal how meaningful both the movie and, more so, Selena herself remain to Lopez. “There’s a part of you that grows in the best characters that you do,” she shared. “Selena was that for me.”
Lopez refers to Selena as “an inspiration” numerous times in the video and, at one point, she gets teary-eyed explaining the role’s personal resonance. “It still gets me, to this day, because it really did mark my life at that time. And to get to know the family and work with them and everything, it was just… it was an important part of my life,” she said.
In posting the moving tribute on YouTube and Instagram, Lopez called on fans to join her in “#CelebratingSelena,” asking them to share their favorite memories of the late singer — and they happily obliged. Wrote one fan, “Selena was my ultimate inspiration, as I’m sure she was to millions of young Latina girls. I would memorize and perform all of her songs for my family with my cousins. When you played Selena is when I fell in love with you… thank you for living up to becoming that same role model and idol for me!”
It seems as though in studying Selena to portray her, Lopez may just have picked up one of the late star’s most defining characteristics: “She’s just one of those very special type of artists that with her music and with her spirit and her joy and her heart, she really touched people.”
Before you go, click here to see photographic evidence that Jennifer Lopez never ages.