A group of lawmakers are pushing for the 1997 biopic Selena to be added to the National Film Registry, believing its inclusion will help increase Latino representation in Hollywood.
“It’s a recognition of Chicana and Latina talent in acting and representation," Theresa Delgadillo, a Chicana and Latina studies professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told The New York Times. "And a woman innovator in music at the center of it."
Selena, which starred Jennifer Lopez in the titular role, chronicled the life and career of Grammy-winning Tejano performer Selena Quintanilla before she was murdered by Yolanda Saldívar, the founder of her fan club, when she was only 23.
The late performer is still a beloved figure in music to this day, more than two decades after her untimely death. Representative Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from Texas, is leading the effort to install the film in the National Film Registry.
Speaking to The New York Times, he said, “Hollywood is still the image-defining institution in the United States. All of us that walk around with brown skin or a Spanish last name, we have to face the stereotypes and narratives that are created by American media, and historically, some of the worst stereotypes have come out of Hollywood.”
In a letter signed by 38 members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Mr Castro argued that “the exclusion of Latinos from the film industry" parallels the way “Latinos continue to be excluded from the full promise of America”.
But by including Selena in the National Film Registry, he believes that exclusion could begin to be undone.
Established by Congress in 1988, the national registry adds 25 films every year, chosen by a special committee.
In addition to the famous 1990s film, a new Netflix show, Selena: The Series, premiered last year and is set to return in May.
“Even though she didn’t sound like people born in Mexico, she told them, it’s my heritage, and I can claim it too. That was incredibly profound for me, even though I was a little girl,” said Maria Elena Garcia, host of the Anything for Selena podcast, which premiered last week.
“Our stories need to be told,” Selena director Gregory Nava said to The New York Times. “Those young girls I made ‘Selena’ for, they’re grown up and have young girls, and they need more beautiful images about who we are."