Selena: The Series is Netflix’s newest hit show. The series focuses on the life and career of Selena Quintanilla, a Grammy-winning singer whose life was tragically cut short in 1995 when she was shot and killed by Yolanda Saldívar. Quintanilla was just 23.
Saldívar is portrayed by actress Natasha Perez in the season’s final episode. Perez was eager to take on the role, but also a bit nervous. “I had to play villains in theater before and a year prior to my being cast on the series, I played a villain in a film for the first time but it was a comedy,” she explained to Entertainment Weekly. “So I remember thinking I’d like to see what it’s like playing an evil villain. It sounded fascinating from an actor’s standpoint, to dissect what someone like that has going through their minds.”
Natasha Perez says 'the character is real but it's not me'
While the opportunity to portray Saldívar was one Perez couldn’t pass up as she “is fascinated by the journey of a complex character,” she admitted that “the human in me has all sorts of feelings.” She added, “The actress in me is also worried for her safety,” explaining that she’s concerned as many viewers “take this very seriously and think that it’s real, and in this case, the character is real but it’s not me.”
Perez did a lot of research into the life of Saldívar, who is currently serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole. “I did as much research as I could,” she said. “I was interested in meeting her even though I knew that the person I would be meeting would be a shell of the person who has been in prison and in solitary confinement for so many years. My interest was in seeing her mannerisms, and how she spoke. I requested permission to meet her, but to honor the family we decided it would be best for me not to.”
While Perez only appeared briefly in this season of the show, Selena: The Series was conceived as a two-part show so we will almost certainly see a lot more of her in the second part, which has already been filmed (per Harper’s Bazaar).
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