In The Community
Selena Quintanilla is known in the Latino community not only as the “Queen of Tejano Music” and a symbol of Latina empowerment but also as someone whose life was taken far too soon. Her tragic death at the hands of someone she trusted left an indelible mark on Latino culture. To this day, Latinos keep Selena alive through her music, but the singer’s memory has arguably not been left to rest.
At the age of 23 and only two weeks before her 24th birthday in 1995, Selena was fatally shot by Yolanda Saldívar. Saldívar, who started as the president of Selena’s fan club, became her business associate and close friend. However, it was discovered that Saldívar had been embezzling money from the Selena Etc. clothing boutiques she was managing. Two days after the singer confronted her, Saldívar bought a gun at a shooting range, and the rest is history.
Recently, Selena’s name is back in the headlines, not due to her legacy or power as a Latina, but rather in connection to the woman who took her life. Oxygen, a TV network focused on true crime and drama shows, is releasing a new true crime documentary called “Selena & Yolanda: The Secrets Between Them” on February 17.
In previews for the docuseries, Yolanda Saldívar breaks her silence after 30 years, vowing to “set the story straight.” Through a series of interviews from a Texas prison where she’s currently serving her life sentence, Saldívar discusses her relationship with Selena. Additionally, members of Saldívar’s family share never-before-seen documents and recordings, claiming, “This is not a simple case of murder.”
The news quickly went viral online following the release of the docuseries’ preview, with the Latino community and others banding together on social media to express their outrage. The majority of the critiques stem from the focus of the docuseries being on Saldívar, which many commentators argued gives her a platform to attempt to revise history as if anything she could argue could excuse or possibly even justify her crime.
Commentators also point out the timing of the Oxygen docuseries and how it’s coming out not only close to the 29th anniversary of Selena’s death but also at a time when it benefits Saldívar the most. According to public records from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Saldívar will be eligible for parole on March 30, 2025.
This really boils my blood 🙂 #selena #selenaquintanilla #yolandasaldivar #selenaquintanillaperez #chrisperez #selenanetflix
For context, parole is granted for reasons like good behavior, rehabilitation or remorse, or low risk of re-offending. Parole allows convicted prisoners to get out of prison and start fresh under supervision. With that in mind, the impression the preview has left on most commentators is that Saldívar and her family are taking advantage of Selena’s legacy to have the best possible chance at parole.
The claims Saldívar is making drives that impression as she states she has been holding onto Selena’s “secrets” and wants people to know the truth now. According to her, part of that truth is that the murder was an accident, which is the same argument she used on trial for her defense.
However, this argument didn’t hold up in Saldívar’s trial in 1995 and it currently doesn’t hold up in the court of public opinion. Among the people slamming the docuseries is Selena’s father, Abraham Quintanilla, who spoke up about it, stating that Saldívar has no credibility in the eyes of the public.
The situation has also sparked a conversation about how exploitative true crime content often is, with many people pointing at the Oxygen docuseries as an example of that. While some claim they will still watch the docuseries out of curiosity, most are discouraging the support of such a project.
The loudest voices in defense of Selena and her memory are coming from the Latino community, but people of all races and from all over the world are expressing how shocked they are that Saldívar was given a platform. Whether the effort will move the needle in Saldívar's favor when it comes to parole remains to be seen.
Many of us might fondly remember growing up with novelas playing after la cena, curled up on the couch watching the overly dramatic and rarely believable drama unfold (wait, so the not-murdered switched-at-birth twin’s suegra’s cousin is the ACTUAL heir to the family fortune??). Into adulthood novelas remain that escape from reality that we love to dive into.
Check out the Luz list of the best telenovelas to revisit and reminisce about.
Maria la del Barrio
One of the most famous novelas in TV history goes down as Maria la del Barrio. Featuring superstars Thalia as Maria and Fernando Colunga as Fernando De La Vega, our all-time favorite telenovela star (and meme queen) Itati Contoral plays Soraya Montenegro as the villain in this classic novela. This classic rags to riches story resonated with so many U.S. based audiences as this novela coincided with peak migration of Latinos to the United States - many arriving with the myth of the American Dream in mind.
Rubí Pérez is a poor woman intent on making it by marrying a rich man. Bárbara Mori dazzles us in this novela about a woman who falls in love with Alejandro, a middle class doctor, only to dump him in search of the life she has always wanted with Héctor, a rich architect. The twists and turns are endless in this classic story, making it a must-see in our book.
Who doesn’t love a self-sabotaging protagonist looking for a way out of poverty? Teresa is one of our most beloved novelas with Angelique Boyer in the main role, scheming her way through life looking for financial security after growing up poor. Love interests come and go, but Teresa is always true to her goals in this story: “Entre ser y no ser, yo soy” after all.
Dos Mujeres un Camino
A classic love triangle ensues when Johnny, a married man and truck driver from Mexico, falls in love with a woman while delivering goods to the United States. Erik Estrada, Laura León and Bibi Gaytán are the main characters in this show from the early 90s and they’re sure to stir up some memories. Not to mention the hit theme song performed by Laura Leon is a cumbia banger.
We can’t forget about La Usurpadora, featuring Gabriela Spanic as twins Paulina and Paola with Fernando Colunga as Carlos Bracho, the main love interest for both characters. Separated twins at birth, dramatic romance, and an evil sibling make this one of the best telenovelas in history.
Amigas y Rivales
A star-studded show, Amigas y Rivales tells the tale of four women from all walks of life as their lives intersect in different ways. Endless drama surrounds Laura, Jimena, Ofelia, and Nayeli as they navigate life together, a true coming-of-age story (with a huge dose of twists!). It also became one of the first novelas to resonate with millennials, as an insight into life as young adults.
Who else loved Rebelde so much that you’d end up singing the theme song for weeks? We definitely did. Six students attending Elite Way School named Mia, Diego, Roberta, Miguel, Lupita, and Giovanni all navigate school while coming together to form a band. Elitism runs amok in this story of love, music, and a classist society - the drama!
La Reina Del Sur
Kate del Castillo plays Teresa Mendoza, a woman from humble beginnings whose life takes a dramatic turn after the murder of her pilot boyfriend. This series quickly escalates as Teresa makes her way to the top of the drug trafficking world in Spain. A show that took an eight year hiatus before coming back in 2019, it’s now been renewed for a 3rd season and we can’t wait to watch!
La Fea Mas Bella
Angelica Vale takes the screen as Leticia Padilla Solis (also known as “Lety”) with Jaime Camil as Fernando Mendiola in this love story. By mainstream beauty standards, Lety is an unattractive woman who lands a dream job at Conceptos, Mexico’s leading media company. Elizabeth Alvarez, who plays Marcia, Fernando’s jealous fiance, plots to keep him all to herself. Drama unfolds in this classic novela that resulted in an American adaptation (Ugly Betty) that cast America Ferrera as the lead.
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In a world where change is rapid, and ideas evolve daily, these five Latine speakers bring forward compelling stories that range from daring political critiques to comedic brilliance, all delivered with fervor and authenticity.
From confronting societal issues to delivering barrels of laughter, these talks guarantee not just information, but genuine engagement and inspiration. Dive in!
Miriam Zoila Pérez: How racism harms pregnant women -- and what can help
Miriam Zoila Pérez, a Cuban-American doula turned journalist, delves deep into the intersections of race, class, and illness. They focus on the alarming impact racism has on black women and their babies and advocates for a radically compassionate prenatal care program. Beyond their talk, Pérez has dedicated their life to highlighting these issues in various publications and has heavily influenced a generation of activist doulas through their work.
Rayma Suprani: Dictators hate political cartoons — so I keep drawing them
Cartoons aren’t just fun illustrations but powerful tools of dissent. Rayma Suprani, a renowned cartoonist from Venezuela, portrays how her cartoons act as a mirror, reflecting society's truths. For her fearless stance against totalitarianism, she's faced threats and exile. Yet, she continues to wield her pencil in defiance of dictatorship, proving that art can challenge the most potent of regimes.
Raquel Perez: Representation Matters: Latinx in Mainstream Media
It's a plea and a declaration: representation is crucial, and stereotypes must go. Raquel Pérez dives into the ongoing misrepresentation of the Latine community in media. As she rightly believes, it's high time for a change, and her talk champions a more inclusive and accurate portrayal of Latinx experiences.
Melissa Villaseñor: How I found myself -- by impersonating other people
Laughter is universal, and Melissa Villaseñor's journey into comedy epitomizes this. From mimicking famous personalities like Sandra Bullock and Dolly Parton to making history as the first Latina on Saturday Night Live, Villaseñor's career is a testament to the power of embracing one's authentic voice. Her talk is a roller-coaster of humor and insight, a blend of life lessons sprinkled with hilarity!
Isabel Allende: How to live passionately — no matter your age
Age is but a number when it comes to passion. Celebrated author Isabel Allende's talk serves as a heartwarming reminder that zest for life doesn't wane with age. As she navigates her own fears and uncertainties of growing older, Allende inspires listeners to embrace life with passion and enthusiasm, regardless of age.