On March 31, 1995, Selena Quintanilla Perez, professionally known as Selena, was tragically murdered by her fan club president at the young age of just 23. This death was especially hard for the Hispanic community, as they mourned the late Tejano singer, whose music career was just finally starting to take off. However, despite passing away right before her much anticipated English crossover, she left behind a legacy that stretches far beyond Spanish speakers. Today, even 25 years after her death, she has yet to be forgotten by her fans, who continue to celebrate her work, and have even passed it onto later generations. From sold-out makeup collections to a museum dedicated to her life, and her very own wax figure, it’s clear that Selena continues to have a strong impact in today’s pop culture and society as a whole.
As a Mexican-American artist, Selena made headlines in both Latin America and the United States, where she resided. This was very uncommon at the time because her songs were primarily in Spanish, and the music scene in Mexico was widely known to look down upon American-born artists trying to enter into it. Nonetheless, Selena was embraced by both the English and Spanish speaking worlds, who took her in with open arms. She was especially popular in her home state of Texas and inspired many of today’s top artists like Beyonce and Selena Gomez (who was named after her) who also grew up there. In spite of entering the male-dominated music genre of Tejano (Tex-Mex), Selena and her band, Los Dinos, were determined to make it big. Managed by her own Father, Abraham Quintanilla, she spent much of her childhood performing gigs that later financially supported her family. Her rise to the top resonated with many, who were inspired by her story of going from rags to riches through hard work and determination. She became a role model to young girls, primarily Latinas who were finally being represented in mainstream Latin music. For the first time, the community saw a young woman fronting a popular band. In fact, she was so popular that the executive decision was made to exclude Los Dinos from the name, focusing solely on her as the individual artist, Selena.
Before her death, Selena had many exciting things in store for her life. She had opened up her very own boutiques where they sold clothing she had designed herself. She was also working to create her own signature fragrance and was especially focused on recording her very first English album. Selena and her husband, Chris Perez, had also just bought a plot of land, where they hoped to build a home to later raise a family of their own in. Unfortunately, her plans were cut short after a debacle with her fan club president, Yolanda Salivar. It was discovered that Salivar had been embezzling the money sent in from fans wanting to buy merchandise. After luring Selena into a motel room with the promise of documented evidence, Yolanda shot her, hitting a critical artery - an injury that was fatal.
Quickly after her death, People magazine published a tribute to Selena. It’s large popularity led to the publication deciding to begin releasing “People En Espanol,” dedicated to Hispanic entertainment news. Two years later, a biopic was made about her life, where she was played by Jennifer Lopez - a role that jump-started Lopez’ her own career in music.
Today, the fascination over the late Tejano singer has not died down. In 2017, Selena was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. That same year, her family launched a makeup collection in collaboration with MAC Cosmetics, which proved was so popular that they have decided to launch a second that will be released this April, for on the 25th anniversary of her death. Her hometown of Corpus Christi has become a popular tourist destination, where fans can visit an entire museum dedicated to her. There they can see her famous purple jumpsuit on display, as well as her faberge egg collection, and her Grammy award among other past belongings of the star. They can also visit Mirador de la Flor, which is a statue of Selena. Visiting the bronze figure has been seen by many as a sign of good fortune. And if Texas is out of the way, fans can also go to their nearest Madame Tussauds, where they can take photos with a wax figure of Selena, modeled in her iconic sequin bustier and black high waisted pants.
Her influence in pop culture is unparalleled to anyone else in her music genre. Shirts with her face have proudly been worn by artists like Drake and Offset. Similar styles are popularly sold at retail stores and bought by people of all ages. In the song “Motor Sport,” Cardi b refers to herself as the “Trap Selena,” and considers the artist a big inspiration. She has even been seen performing in outfits inspired by those once worn by Selena. She has been responsible for starting various trends. Some notable mentions would be the popularization of bustiers, as well as her sparkling jumpsuits, such as her iconic purple one that she wore to her last concert. It would also be especially hard to find a Latina who hasn’t gotten bangs in hopes of imitating her signature fringe look.
However, it goes so much deeper than all of this. To many people, Selena is a symbol of hope. She urged people to “always believe the impossible is possible,” and her success was proof that one’s dreams could come true if they worked hard enough to achieve them. She is an example to many that kindness goes a long way, and her family-oriented ideals are a reminder to appreciate your loved ones. These, along with many other lessons are some of the most valuable remnants of her life. That’s why, even 25 years later, we are still dreaming of her.