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‘Selena’ Star Noemí González on the ‘Somber’ Moment She Learned of Selena’s Death

Noemí González expected there to be a mixed reaction to Selena: The Series. “I’ve been aware this particular story is subjective for a lot of people,” González tells StyleCaster. “I’ve been aware there has been a passionate response, and rightly so. Selena belongs to everybody because she was such a beautiful individual that resonated with so many.”

Selena: The Series, which premiered on Netflix on December 4, follows the life and career of Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla, from her birth to her rise as the Queen of Tejano music to her death in 1995. González plays Selena’s older sister, Suzette Quinanilla, and the drummer of their band, previously known as Selena y Los Dinos. Since its premiere, Selena: The Series has been met with a lukewarm reaction from fans but González assures that the series will make a lot more sense when the second part comes out next year. “I knew people were going to have a setback to the fact it wasn’t the Selena signature look they had been comfortable with, that they had latched onto, so I have peace with it,” González says. “Once part two comes and once you’re able to watch the whole story, people are probably going to take back the reaction they had from the start because they don’t have the whole show to truly make a judgement call on what our presentation was.”

Part one of Selena: The Series ended with the release of Selena’s 1992 smash hit, “Como la Flor.” While González confirms that the series will cover Selena’s whole life story, including her death at the hands of a fan, she assures that the show is more a celebration of Selena’s life than tale of her tragic murder

“I  would love for fans and the audience to come into watching this series with a clean slate because it really is a part 1, part 2 and a full amalgamation of her life story, from birth to her tragic ending,” she says. “I don’t care to be sensationalizing her tragic passing. I’m sure that’s for the best because you all can focus on this life and this beautiful being and star that we had and continue to have through her timeless music.”

Ahead, González talked to StyleCaster about the moment she learned about Selena’s death as a kid, what it was like to meet the real-life Suzette and how Selena’s family made her into the star we remember today.

On meeting the real Suzette

“I met Suzette on Zoom because of COVID times. I met her with Christian [Serratos] and Seidy [López]. We were supposed to connect for just 30 minutes and we ended up talking and hanging out for over an hour and a half. I definitely had to take a moment to meditate the day of, knowing it was coming and making sure I honored this moment with someone that I’ve looked up to for so long. Two weeks before we wrapped was when I got to meet her. It was nice that I was still involved in the project to have that connection. Cause of COVID, we couldn’t have them come to set unfortunately, so we didn’t meet with them ahead of time or ask them questions. We did our shaping of our characters on our own and we got to meet them shortly thereafter. It’s definitely intimidating. There’s already a major fanbase, and we all know who Suzette is in these current years, but there’s little footage before grief, so I had to work my way backwards but also have some creative license on her younger self. Whatever angst and intimidation I had, I channeled it into the drums.”

Noemi Gonzalez

Image: Courtesy of Vince Trupsin.

On learning to play the drums 

“I did not know how to play drums before this role. I learned how to play thanks to production. I am actually playing. It’s playback, so it’s Selena’s music. But I have to match it. I’m not faking or creating an arrangement that’s different or veers off from the Selena original music. It was particularly challenging for the drums because you can see whether I land on the toms and the cymbals. The cymbals have a great splash effect. I made sure I did my best and that the visual cue tied with the playback. It’s actually me that was rocking out.” 

On her first memories with Selena

“My mom is on top of music trends and celebrities, so we would watch Selena when she was on variety shows. We saw when she was in her beginning stages, and we saw when she became the more signature look to the Selena we know from the ‘90s. I remember being at home playing with plastic toys and my mom screaming. I thought I broke something, but she was like, ‘Selena’s on TV!’ I dropped everything and ran to the living room. I remember my mom handing me the Amor Prohibido album and putting it in the stereo. I had my own journey with Selena before the movie came out, so that was cool to have my own growth as a young girl and my own journey not knowing I was going to be in the arts later in life. Now to really imbue all of that history in my performance in Selena: The Series, it’s been a blessing.” 

Noemi Gonzalez

Image: Courtesy of Vince Trupsin.

On how she learned of Selena’s death

“I remember I was in my mom’s bedroom when she had to give a somber moment of focus for her to tell me what had happened because she was pretty glued to the TV had no concept of death. Whatever she was saying, I was like, ‘Not this girl. No. Totally not this vibrant, radiant spirit and beautiful woman. There’s just no way.’ Shortly thereafter, my brother passed away. And shortly thereafter, the movie came out. I had a strong concept of life’s realities through being a huge Selena fan and being devastated by her loss once I realized what this meant for her and her family after experiencing my own personal loss shortly thereafter. It was definitely a little mini journey there for three years to grieve not only my brother, but also grieve Selena and grieve alongside her family in my own way. She’s definitely had a profound effect on my life.”

On how Selena’s family made her the star we remember today

“When you mention Selena, there is no Selena without mentioning her family. That was the kind of person she was. She was a family-oriented person, and it mattered to her that they all came up and came up together. That is what’s tied to her story. I’m thankful I represent that and represent a supportive sister and a family that is so united and supportive to make sure that they gave the utmost support to the star that Selena became and the legacy we’re talking about today.”

Selena: The Series is available to stream on Netflix.

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