The upcoming release of Selena: The Series on Netflix has a lot of people excitedly anticipating what’s supposed to be an authentic look at the iconic Tejano star’s life. Selena’s sister Suzette Quintanilla and her dad Abraham Quintanilla Jr. are both executive producers on the series and they, along with Netflix, are being sued by Moctesuma Esparza, the producer of the iconic 1997 movie Selena starring Jennifer Lopez. Esparza claims the Quintanillas broke an agreement they signed in 1995 giving him rights to Selena’s life story as well as various members of the family, TMZ reports. He’s suing Abraham and Suzette for breach of contract and Netflix for ignoring the deal he had with Abraham, and he’s asking for at least $1 million in damages. Netflix has not responded to a request for comment and her family has yet to release a statement.
The family has called the series the “official story” of the late singer’s life with The Walking Dead’s Christian Serratos portraying the late singer. Joining Serratos in the series is Ricardo Chavira (Desperate Housewives) as Selena’s father Abraham Quintanilla Jr., Gabriel Chavarria (Syfy’s The Purge) as her brother A.B., Noemi Gonzalez (Hulu’s East Los High) as her sister Suzette along with newcomer Madison Taylor Baez playing Selena as a kid.
E! News reports that in a 1995 interview with The Los Angeles Times, Esparza stated that “he did not seek rights to Selena’s life story,” despite his role as producer of the 1997 film. According to the interview, he and the family came to an “informal agreement” that the Quintanillas would have final approval on the script, while Esparza took on full production management. Now he’s alleging in the lawsuit that they formalized their agreement in 1998.
The series marks the return of a family-sanctioned portrayal of the beloved Queen of Tejano music since the film. “Selena will always have a lasting place in music history and we feel a great responsibility to do justice to her memory,” Suzette Quintanilla said in a statement. “With this series, viewers will finally get the full history of Selena, our family, and the impact she has had on all of our lives.”
Her cultural imprint remains strong 25 years after her death with the family’s seal of approval in projects including her MAC cosmetics collections. Musicians like Becky G regularly pay tribute to her and there are podcasts devoted to Selena including the upcoming Anything for Selena which focuses on her impact and legacy. The family is also notoriously protective of Selena’s image which brings to question the validity of Esparza’s statements. In an interview with People earlier this year Abraham said the family would devote their lives to keeping her memory alive. “When Selena passed away, I told my family that I was going to try to keep her memory alive through her music,” he said. “And 25 years later I think we, as a family, accomplished that.”