Photo: @selena.quintanilla_forever/Instagram
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25 Ways Selena Quintanilla Blazed a Trail for Latinas in Entertainment

Today marks 25 years since we lost Selena Quintanilla-Perez in a senseless act of violence. But the legacy and memory of the iconic Tejana superstar lives on larger than ever, with generation after generation lifting her up by embracing her music, style, and essence. Selena is an icon on the level of Marilyn Monroe or Elvis and she simply won’t ever be forgotten.

Selena isn’t just a legend in the eyes of her fans, she paved the way for so many Latinx stars who came up after her. Selena inspired them, gave them permission to think “that the impossible is always possible,” and opened the door for their success with her trailblazing success. Here are the many ways in which Selena Quintanilla-Perez paved the way for future Latinxs to dream big and reach for the stars.

She is the best-selling female Latin Artist in history

The Queen of Cumbia and Tejano is the best-selling female artist in Latin music history, selling over 65 million albums (as of 2015). Dreaming of You sold 175,000 copies in a single day, setting a record (then) for a female vocalist. But, as with many, if not all success stories, this came after years and years of performances and tours, hearing so many nos before the yeses, Selena perfecting her craft every day, and the entire Quintanilla family putting in so much time and dedication. Selena’s success instantly inspires so many other Latinxs to seek greatness for themselves.

She had seven #1 songs

Be prepared to be impressed. Selena had not one, not two, but seven number one hit songs. Those that topped Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart are:

– “No Me Queda Mas”
– “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom”
– “Tu Solo Tu”
– “Fotos Y Recuerdos (Back on the Chain Gang)”
– “Amor Prohibido”
– “Buenos Amigos” (with Alvaro Torres)
– “Dondequiera Que Estes” (with Barrio Boyzz)

If you are a true superfan, you’ll recognize all these songs, and know the lyrics! If you don’t already, take a listen to these great Selena jams.

She created space for women in Tejano music

As Selena herself told the media, there wasn’t a very welcoming space for women in Tejano music. A genre largely dominated by men, Selena y Los Dinos encountered roadblocks to getting gigs because male promoters couldn’t fathom a female-led group could bring in the audiences. The group’s talent and persistence proved otherwise and made Selena not only the Queen of Tejano but its superstar face. Just learning about Selena’s career no doubt gives other Latinx artists the courage to tread in a musical genre, and own it.

She repped for Spanglish speaking U.S.-born Latinos

A really adorable thing about Selena is that although she was incredible, she wasn’t perfect. Just like so many of us, she struggled with Spanish, as English was her first language. This led to the iconic statement to the press like “me siento muy excited” and the legendary interview with Cristina where she mispronounced the number 14 (“quatro y diez” instead of “catorce”). But she rolled with it, laughed at her mistakes, and represented Chicanxs and Latinxs everywhere who live between two worlds, cultures, and languages.

She started a fashion brand

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SELENA FACT:⬇️⬇️⬇️ During an interview with Selena's sister Suzette they discussed how sadly the family decided to close Selena's boutique due to the declining economy "The decision was a difficult one" Says Suzette, “This was her baby, It was not an easy decision" she said they had to think it over for three months , than she said "then Chris reminded us that she would’ve known that it was time. When you gotta fold, you gotta fold, you know?” 💔😪 #selena #selenaquintanilla #selenaquintanillaperez #selenaylosdinos #siempreselena #foreverselena #selenaforever #queenoftejano #queenoftexmex #queenoftejanomusic #lareina #legend #sheliveson #anythingforselenas #selenavive #comolaflor #reinadeltexmex #selenatribute #selenaqueen #legendsneverdie #bidibidibombom #ripselena #selenalaleyenda #tejano #nomequedamas #siunavez #syld #amorprohibido #selenaboutique

A post shared by Selena Quintanilla 🎤 (@selenaquintanillafacts_) on

In addition to singing and acting, Selena was also a fashion designer. Her boutique, Selena, Inc. which included a hair and nail salon, had two locations. The first store, which served as the headquarters, was opened in 1994 in Corpus Christi; a San Antonio locale followed. Selena designed clothes with designer Martin Gomez and designed and created several of her iconic on-stage looks herself. Nowadays, it is common for singers and other celebrities to instantly diversify their business by getting into fashion, but Selena did it first, and it was a true passion of hers.

She launched a perfume

It’s sad to think about all the wonderful things Selena would be doing today, and what she would have accomplished; we know it would have been amazing! Just look at the incredible legacy we have of hers, as well as, all the new projects that have come to fruition and are in the works. One of the things we found out when researching Selena facts is that she was working on a perfume.

Luckily, Selena’s family decided to release three fragrances from the three perfume samples she had picked out before her passing. There is said to be, in total, five official Selena fragrances that were produced and released: Forever Selena, Como La Flor, Bidi Bidi Bom Bom, Para Siempre Selena, and Amor Prohibido.

She planned her own cosmetics line

Photo: The Blast

In addition to planning a fragrance, Selena was also planning to create a cosmetics line. This is said to have been the inspiration for the online petition that led to the immensely popular Selena collection for MAC. It’s fun to imagine what cool colors and products would’ve been in her original collection, and how the packaging would have been designed. Selena’s family is said to be creating a new Selena makeup line; we hope any and all ideas she had, will be implemented into this new line.

The Blast has reported that Abraham Quintanilla, Selena’s father, has applied for a trademark for “Selena Vive,” to use as part of a cosmetics line. Needless to say, people are excited about the idea! The collection is said to include “perfumes, compacts, eye makeup, lipstick, foundations, and nail polish.”

She recorded a “cross-over” English album

Before what was called the “Latin Explosion” of 1999 and beyond (although we have always been here creating great music), Selena already had an album that contained songs in English. This, of course, is Dreaming of You, which sold over 331,000 copies its first week (175,000 its first day), and became the second highest-selling debut album in 1995 behind Michael Jackson’s HIStory.

And achieved massive success in both languages

A Latin music artist can become huge in their respective country, and the rest of Latin America, but not be relatively known in English-speaking countries like the United States. Crossing over is a big deal, an opportunity to share your art with an entirely new audience. And Selena Quintanilla-Perez was one of the big artists who was able to make this happen. Today, her music is known internationally, with even her Spanish songs being sung adoringly by those who don’t even know the language.

She was a triple threat (actor, singer, entrepreneur)

It’s common today for singers to have other career pursuits like acting, and fashion design. But Selena was making it happen in the ’90s. As an actress, she had a speaking cameo as herself in the popular 1990s novela, Dos mujeres, un camino, and appeared as a singer in the 1994 film Don Juan DeMarco.

She collaborated with artists outside of her genre

Photo: mi abuela jazzista

Before Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee were collaborating with Justin Bieber, and before Shakira collaborated with Wyclef Jean, Selena was the one doing Latin music collabs with English-singing artists. For the song, “God’s Child (Baila Conmigo),” she teamed up with David Bryne, and with “Wherever You Are,” Selena sings along with the Barrio Boyzz.

She launched People en Español

Selena’s life and legacy are both filled with amazing achievements and accomplishments. A fun fact a lot of folks don’t know is that when she passed, People magazine ran an issue with the singer on the cover. Both the first and second runs of this issue sold out; this prompted People to create and launch People en Español.

She won a GRAMMY

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SELENA FACT:⬇️⬇️⬇️ A favorite highlight of the night of the (1994) Grammys for Selena's sister Suzette was when Selena and Suzette were leaving the Grammys and they were heading to their limo, there were fans screaming from a direction where Selena and Suzette couldn't see them, they were screaming Selena's name, Selena asked Suzette "are they calling out my name? 😱" and Suzette said "I think so! " than Selena said "they know me here?? " so she waved towards that direction and the fans started screaming, once Selena and Suzette got into the limo Selena was saying how cool that was❤ #selena #selenaquintanilla #selenaquintanillaperez #selenaylosdinos #siempreselena #foreverselena #selenaforever #queenoftejano #queenoftexmex #queenoftejanomusic #lareina #legend #sheliveson #anythingforselenas #selenavive #comolaflor #reinadeltexmex #selenatribute #selenaqueen #legendsneverdie #bidibidibombom #ripselena #selenalaleyenda #tejano #nomequedamas #siunavez #syld #amorprohibido #grammys

A post shared by Selena Quintanilla 🎤 (@selenaquintanillafacts_) on

A Grammy is a major highlight in the career of a musician. During her career, Selena Quintanilla was nominated for two Grammys, winning one. In 1994, she won for Best Mexican-American Album for Live, making her the first Tejana to ever win in that category (another Selena first!). The following year, Selena was nominated for Best Mexican-American Performance for Amor Prohibido.

She recorded diverse music across genres

Although Selena will always be known as the Queen of Tejano, she didn’t limit herself by only recording just in that style of music. She really had fun singing to, performing, and releasing music in various different genres. This includes covering Donna Summer’s disco jams, giving us some Mexican cumbia in “Techno Cumbia,” covering Pedro Infante’s mariachi/ranchera classic “Tu solo tu,” and dropping a dance pop/Hip Hop sound on “Donde Quiera Que Estes”/”Wherever You Are” with the Barrio Boyzz.

She mixed Mexican/Latinx and U.S. influences

Sometimes in music, or any other career that makes you a celeb, you are forced to choose an identity, or “pick sides.” Many singers and actors have changed their name to appear Anglo, while others solely stick to Latinx music and culture. Selena was like the poster child for Chicanxs and so many other Latinxs born in the United States to Latino parents. She naturally wanted to, and did mix influences from her Mexican and American identities and cultures, to create something fresh, cool, and relevant to so many people. Since then, other Latinx artists like Christina Aguilera, Selena Gomez, and Demi Lovato have fearlessly done the same.

She created and took charge of her image

In the music industry, so many artists are literally created by a huge team of people there to create a specific, artificial image. Not Selena. She created her own look, fashioned her own stage outfits (and those of her bandmates), and in the process started so many current trends. She was a prime example of a musician showing their art and themselves how they are, and how they would like to be portrayed, and remaining in control of that.

She was a spokesperson for MAJOR brands

What happens when two pop culture giants meet? You get an epic moment in history! Selena Quintanilla became a spokesperson for Coca-Cola in 1988 or 1989 and continued reppin’ for the soda until her death. Being tied to such a big brand is evidence of what a megastar the Tejana was and still is. Other brands she worked with are Southwestern Bell/AT&T and Agree Shampoo.

She was kind, generous, and humble

Oftentimes, when people become huge stars, they adopt the diva (and not in a good way) attitude that is expected to come with this new lifestyle. Part of what makes Selena so likable is that she refused to follow suit. No matter how big she got, she never refused an autograph, loved to spend time with her fans, and didn’t even feel comfortable hearing people call her her true title of Queen of Tejano. Selena’s refreshing humbleness, accessibility, and realness showed stars after her that you can be massive but also massively kind.

She sang LIVE

Selena wasn’t lazy about her performances–they were epic. She endlessly danced across the stage and still had enough breath and control to flawlessly sing her lyrics live. That is so impressive, given that so many major artists automatically decide to lip-sync when they decide to include choreography in their performances. She set the bar for other Latinx artists to give it their all at their concerts, completely live.

She broke concert attendance records

Records are meant to be broken, and Selena’s career is all about breaking music records. She always had the dream to perform at the Houston Astrodome. Selena not only did that, but she broke attendance records–three years in a row (1993: 57,894, 1994: 60081, 1995: 66,746+). This was about 25 years before another Latina, Cardi B broke attendance records at the Houston Rodeo.

She got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Selena was honored with her Hollywood star in the category of Recording, on November 3, 2017. In true Selena fashion, a record was broken at the star ceremony, when 4,500 fans showed up to celebrate with the Quintanilla family, widower Chris Perez, and Eva Longoria (also a Corpus Christi native). Selena’s is the 2,622nd star, and located at 1750 N. Vine Street, in front of the historic Capitol Records Building.

She was the 3rd Highest-Earning Latina in the U.S.

Although her career continued to skyrocket after her passing, Selena managed to achieve great success while she was alive. In fact, at the time of her death, she was the third highest-earning Latinx in the entire country. She proved to the Latinx artists that would come after her that there wasn’t any limits when talent, hard work, and perseverance were part of the equation.

She has 2 Madame Tussauds wax figures

Madame Tussauds is a famous wax museum, with locations worldwide, where celebrities of all kinds are immortalized. Selena not only has a wax likeness of her in the Hollywood location, but also one in New York City. If you’re ever in any of these areas, you should definitely plan to visit

She has her own official, government-recognized day

Weeks after her death, then-Texas Governor George W. Bush declared that April 16, 1995 (Selena’s birthday) was Selena Day. A state House bill, which was filed on February 26 of this year, if passed, would make April 16 Selena Day in Texas every year. We’re praying that this happens!

She followed her dreams at a young age

Selena didn’t get her start as a Disney star as several big singers today did. But back in her childhood, she, too, was following her dream of being a singer. As lead singer of Selena y Los Dinos, she and her siblings would sing at their father’s restaurant before venturing out to bigger gigs. Selena serves as a reminder to other Latinx artists (and everyone else) to after your dream(s) once you know what they are.

She was always HERSELF

Probably the most important thing about Selena, which we have all been inspired by, is that she was always truly herself. She didn’t change who she was to be famous, or when she became famous. She was stunning yet goofy, talented beyond belief but humble, and simply the superstar that was, and is–Selena Quintanilla-Perez. We hope that all celebs are taking several pages from her book on life and success.

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