Warning: Spoilers follow for Part 1 Netflix’s “Selena: The Series.”
Part one of Netflix’s “Selena: The Series” covers the life of late Tejano music star Selena Quintanilla-Perez, from her childhood growing up in Texas through the beginning of her rise to stardom. But one thing viewers may not have known about the Mexican-American singer is that although she sang songs in Spanish for the majority of her career, she didn’t grow up speaking the language.
In the first two episodes of the series, we learn that although Selena was in touch with her Mexican heritage, her family spoke English at home. She was born in Lake Jackson, Texas, and the Quintanilla family later moved to father Abraham Quintanilla’s birthplace of Corpus Christi.
Abraham discovered his daughter’s talent for singing when she was six years old, and soon after he formed the family band that would go on to become Selena y Los Dinos. His son A.B. played bass while his older daughter Suzanne played drums. They began practicing almost every day, and Abraham taught them to play Tejano music — a popular genre that blends Mexican, European, and American styles — in order to connect to local Latin audiences.
In the series, Selena’s family playfully teases her over her poor Spanish-speaking skills, and she begins to learn the language through listening to tapes and watching soap operas.
In real life, Selena learned the words to the Tejano songs phonetically with the help of her father but did not actually become fluent in Spanish. She did, however, go on to take classes and become conversational before her tragic death at the hands of her friend and former manager of her fashion boutiques, Yolanda Saldivar, in 1995.
Part 1 of “Selena: The Series” is now streaming on Netflix.