-By Joshua Brown
21 years after her tragic death, Selena’s reach continues to grow as new generations embrace her music, style, and compassionate spirit. Recently, her loyal fans have banded together to make one of her biggest dreams a reality. The Tejano icon wished to release her own makeup line, a wish that seemingly wouldn’t come true. That is, until last fall when a fan-led online petition—garnering 38,000 signatures in the blink of an eye— prompted MAC cosmetics to issue a limited edition makeup line, Selena Quintanilla for MAC.
In an effort to better understand the singer’s powerful legacy, we reached out to Selena’s sister, and Los Dinos drummer, Suzette Quintanilla. She was kind enough to share some moving memories about her late sister, and reflect on why she continues to mean so much to so many. With her fans, organizations, and family passionately stoking her fire—Selena’s impact continues to soar to new heights.
VH1: How did it feel to learn that 38,000 fans signed a petition for MAC to create a limited edition makeup line honoring your sister?
Suzette Quintanilla: It feels so good! I mean, her fans are freaking diehard! They did everything to make sure this happened for her and us Latinas. They’re beautiful and never stop surprising me. We couldn’t be more grateful.
I mean, what a message that sends to our young Latinas! They can see this and say, “Wow, look what Selena did in such a short amount of time, and now she has a line coming out to honor her.” It makes me incredibly proud both as her sister and as a Latina. There are no words.
As a Latina we don’t have a lot of people to look up to. I recently had someone ask me who I could look up to as a good role model and I couldn’t really think of anyone. I think of Selena. I think that’s the beauty of Selena’s legacy—it’s that she’s representing us Latinas still to this day.
Social media went absolutely crazy with this announcement—what was that like for you?
When we found out she was the number one trending topic on Facebook—that blew my mind. I remember asking one of the MAC representatives a few days later, “Is this a normal reaction to a line?” I wanted to truly find out if this is the norm because in my mind, MAC has already had so many amazing people like Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Diana Ross, and Katy Perry. So I was really nervous as to how people would react to Selena’s line.
And they said?
They said, “You know what Suzette, we’re going to be very truthful with you. In the history of MAC, we have never had a reaction to a makeup line like this. Ever.” All I could say was, “Not even Rihanna’s?!” because I’m a big Rihanna fan. I just couldn’t believe it. I didn’t believe them—I thought they were being nice so I asked again.
That’s funny how shocked you were. What was her typical beauty routine before she’d go on stage?
She always did her own makeup. She didn’t have a hair person, didn’t have a team. Actually, that team was my mom [laughs]. Selena always believed that she didn’t need all of that. She was simply beautiful and down to earth, it didn’t need to be anything else.
So backstage, it was just your mom quickly fixing Selena’s hair and makeup? That’s pretty cool. Most stars of that caliber travel with an entire glam squad!
Selena’s routine was like this: maybe an hour before she was about to go on stage she’d ask [husband] Chris [Pérez] to grab her suitcase from the bottom of the bus. And then she’d go through it, throwing a bunch of stuff around saying, “Ahhhh I don’t know what I want to wear!” Eventually she’d settle, saying “I guess I’ll wear this.”
I love that there was never any ego for her, she just went with the flow. All of that pure heartedness was so apparent to fans of Selena. That’s definitely a reason why she’s stayed on their minds for all these years.
I take pride in that. Our whole family is a family of good people. We take pride in continuing her legacy. I remember my father made a comment to the press shortly after she died, he vowed to never let her memory die. I’m glad he’s made sure that hasn’t happened. I’m really grateful that her fans love her so much, love our music, and hold her on such a pedestal. I know she would be so grateful.