Season 1 of Netflix’s Selena: The Series, which debuts this month, features all-inclusive Latinx representation both on and off the screen.
The new biographical drama tells the story of Tejano singer (and queer icon) Selena Quintanilla from her childhood through her rise to fame. Mexican director Hiromi Kamata’s talented cast includes Mexican actress Christian Serranos as Selena along with Latinx actors Ricardo Chivara, Seidy Lopez, Gabriel Chavarria, and Noemi Gonzalez.
Behind the scenes, Raymond Arturo Perez, a gay Latinx man from San Antonio, is part of the writing team for Season 2.
Just before fans started digging into the first season about the famed Texas singer, OutSmart spoke to Perez, a University of Texas graduate, about his plans for the series’ second season.
Connor Behrens: Where did your passion for film and television come from?
Raymond Arturo Perez: I’ve always been fascinated by film and television, but particularly film. Since my parents were usually working around the clock, I was often by myself with either my toys or the television. Like many other writers in the industry, I feel like television was a third parent for me. It wasn’t until middle school that TV was at the forefront of my mind. It was the first time as a young adult that I was starting to watch more mature content.
How did you become involved with Selena: The Series?
The way I got involved was through networking. It’s so important. I would often go once a week to a networking event. One particular week, a colleague (through another colleague) invited me to this open house event. It was two LGBTQ organizations—Black Gay Brunch, and The Clubhouse. I walked in and was so pleasantly surprised that this many queer professionals were out and working. They didn’t just exist, they were in community and aware of each other and supporting each other.
It was there that I met Moisés Zamora, the showrunner of Selena. At the time, I don’t think the Netflix deal had happened yet, and he was a working writer on another show. He became a mentor to me, and was tracking me. A few months later, he reached out to me and asked if I had any interest in joining The Clubhouse. Fast-forward to Zamora making the deal with Netflix and Season 1 about to wrap up. I was about to finish my second year of graduate school, and he reached out to ask me if I had any interest in being a part of Season 2. I said Of course!
How important is representation in the writer’s room of Selena?
It was really refreshing to know that the room was completely Latinx. Having a whole Latinx room meant that there were a whole myriad of voices, experiences, and cultural backgrounds. When I was in the classroom or in a workshop, I was oftentimes the one Latinx person or the one person of color or the one minority in the room. It’s kind of awesome, in some regard, to not have to worry about identity and just focus on the show and the relationships these characters have. We got really deep into that, and it was really fulfilling.
What do you think fans will get excited about in the second season?
I think the hits that people are most familiar with get their moment to shine in the next season. So exploring how some of those songs came to life and the story behind them is going to be really fun. The luxury of television is being able to sit with characters for a much longer period of time and see how they are formed by the relationships that they have. I think that will be a pretty awesome and compelling treat for viewers.
What is it about Selena Quintanilla-Pérez that has made her such an LGBTQ icon, in your opinion?
I don’t know if I can answer that completely! She was a trailblazer, but there was no path set for her to truly follow. It’s the boldness, it’s the courageousness that she carried. I think there’s something about it that’s very radical. I oftentimes feel that as a queer brown kid, our lives are radical. I feel very empowered seeing Selena [getting] her footing. She was very much sure of herself. That’s a goal of mine: to have as much confidence [as she had] in going after what I want, and to be able to speak on my own behalf and keep my head up.
Season 1 of Selena: The Series is now available on Netflix.