(This article contains some spoilers for Part 1 of Netflix’s “Selena: The Series.” You have been warned.)
“Selena: The Series” premiered on Netflix Friday, chronicling the life of late Tejano music star Selena Quintanilla-Perez. But as viewers soon find out, there was another reigning queen of Tejano before Selena came along, and her name was Laura Canales.
The series first introduces Canales via a poster on Selena’s brother, A.B.’s, bedroom wall when their family band was in its infancy, performing at backyard weddings and using repurposed peach cans as stage lights. But by episode three, “And the Winner Is….,” Selena y Los Dinos are starting to be recognized, and Selena gets nominated for Female Vocalist of the Year at the 1986 Tejano Music Awards in San Antonio.
Her biggest competition at the awards show is none other than Canales herself, who had won multiple times in a row before that year. Those details are all true, and Selena did go on to win the award at the ripe age of 15.
But did the two stars really meet in the bathroom before the awards ceremony? “Selena: The Series” depicts a heartfelt moment in which Selena becomes tongue-tied over meeting her idol while she’s washing her hands. In the scene, Selena even thanks Canales for “going first and making the road easier for a girl singer,” since most Tejano singers at the time were men.
Canales then offers the young star some sage advice.
“It’s a business of rejection and disappointment most of the time, so just take a rare moment to just be accepted,” Canales tells Selena. “Everyone in this business is going to tell you who you need to be every step of the way. From what I’ve seen of you, you should always do everything possible to be who you are.”
That advice becomes more poignant in future episodes as Selena and her family band struggle to maintain their individuality after signing to major label EMI. But did the scene really happen like that in real life?
It’s hard to say. While the exact conversation was likely a bit of artistic license on the part of the show’s writers, it’s true that Canales was a mentor to Selena during the early stages of her career. According to Canales’ entry on encyclopedia.com, she was known to be a generous person, and even after Selena became her rival, they would often perform together and always remained fans of one another. The entry also cites Tejano music journalist Joe Nick Patoski, who quoted Selena as saying that Canales “paved the way for everyone who has come after her, including myself.”
According to the archives of the local newspaper in Selena’s hometown, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Canales attended Selena’s funeral after her tragic death in 1995.
Part 1 of “Selena: The Series” is now streaming on Netflix.