Avid Selena Quintanilla fans, my daughter and I devoured the new Netflix series about the young star’s life. Watching the show with my daughter was an iconic moment. You see B was raised on the movie “Selena.” It is vital for me to ensure my daughter knows where she comes from, understands her culture, and the strength her ancestors and their stories give her. I believe knowing where we come from, the story of our people will make us stronger, will show us the way to go when we are confused, and will give us the courage we need when facing obstacles.
As a teenager, I related to Selena. I understood what it meant to be labeled as Mexican American. The iconic line spoken by her father in the movie, “Being Mexican American is tough… We’ve gotta be twice as perfect as anybody else. We gotta be more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans, both at the same time. It’s exhausting.”
There has only ever been one other quote from a movie which has spoken to my soul. Having experienced being treated differently because of my heritage in both the United States and in Mexico, I knew exactly what Abraham Quintanilla meant. When my child was born, I wanted her to never know this feeling, to never experience the confusion of being treated differently.
The series “Selena” on Netflix was a highly anticipated event for my family. We devoured each episode, we listened to her music, we spoke about her story and what Selena may have accomplished if she had not passed. I wanted, needed, my daughter to know that she can accomplish everything she sets her mind to, because her family has her back, just as Selena did. She will never be alone in this life, she will never have a need for anything, because of her family. The gratitude I feel to the producers of the show and to the Quintanilla family for sharing this message, for allowing us to watch their life, and experience their pain, is unquantifiable.
Yet, watching this show, I learned something about myself as well. Running a business, I have been unsure of allowing nonfamily members in, of sharing too much of myself with the world. Working with my parents is amazing, I love every minute of it. There are definitely moments when we test each other, but at the end of the day it is all worth it, because we understand each other, and we believe in the business. I was able to step out of my comfort zone, dare to live my dream, to start writing, because my family was with me.
Before watching the “Selena” series, there were times when I was unsure of how to answer the question, what is it like working with family? I hesitated, not wanting to say I loved it, the security it brings sets my soul on fire, because I had never seen or heard anyone else say it. And then I did, on the show. I watched Abraham Quintanilla tell AB that it was their job to care for Selena, I watched the family care for each other, cheer each other on, and celebrate victories. In those moments, I felt my hesitation slowly start to leave, and a confidence that I am doing what is right for me and my family take its place.
I know the show is a story, it has been embellished, and has an artistic flair. But I also know that values, like working with family and staying together no matter what, cannot be dramatized. Selena’s story has given me a way to show my daughter anything is possible, be proud of your heritage, and know I will always be here. And her story has clarified my understanding of family and following dreams together. I wish I had had the opportunity to know this woman, there is so much I could learn from her. I hope her legacy continues to drive people to know everything is possible.
I love to hear from my readers. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sara Orellana-Paape lives in Lawton.