Catching up with Chris Pérez as ‘Selena: The Series’ hits Netflix
In a particularly humorous scene from the 1997 biopic “Selena,” a fictional version of Chris Pérez (played by Jon Seda) pulls a bottle of hot sauce from a holster at his side and douses a pizza with it, sharing with Selena Quintanilla (played by Jennifer Lopez). “They can’t make food hot enough for me,” says Seda’s character right before eating the pizza.
While the accuracy of biopics is always ripe for debate, the real Chris Pérez tells the American-Statesman that the quote accurately reflects his life. And now, a new take on the lives of Pérez and Quintanilla — the queen of Tejano music and Pérez’s late first wife — will hit screens Friday, when “Selena: The Series” premieres on Netflix. This time, Christian Serratos will play the show’s namesake, who was shot to death in 1995, and Jesse Posey will play Pérez.
However, Pérez says he is unsure whether or not he’ll tune in. He says he was not consulted during the Netflix show’s production and admits he hasn’t seen any previews for it.
“I’m not trying to not be a part of anything. ... At the end of the day, we all have our perspective on certain things and how things happened,” he says. “I’ve put out everything I wanted to put out already. There’s not much more I want to say, and that’s the God-honest truth.”
Like many Texans, Pérez is very particular about how he would like to see Selena’s life portrayed on screen. He admits that during the 1997 movie’s premiere, he was unable to look at the screen and kept his head down the whole time. It wasn’t until 20 years later when the “Selena” film aired on cable network Lifetime that he was actually able to sit through it. He says that's a testament to his own personal growth over two decades.
The film was executive-produced by Quintanilla’s father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr., who also will serve as an executive producer on “Selena: The Series,” along with Quintanilla’s sister, Suzette. The first season of the series is expected mostly to focus on the superstar’s childhood. According to IMDB, Posey will only appear as Pérez in four episodes this season.
Whether your Selena fandom runs deep or you can just hum a few bars of “Como La Flor,” you might remember that guitarist Pérez also performed with the singer. He says he hasn’t done a whole lot of recording since the pandemic for his own music project, the Chris Pérez Band, but he’s been in the studio with artists like Nina Diaz and DJ Kane of the Kumbia Kings.
He’s also taken a spin at country music, featuring on Robert Ray’s song “Think About You.” While country music is a fairly new avenue for Pérez, he is proud of the song and the fusion of country and Latin music elements.
“I get calls saying (‘Think About You’) is playing on this radio station, or that it’s number this on that chart,” Pérez says. “I'm a little out of the loop when it comes to country charts and things like that. But from what I understand, it's been doing really well.” (The song has spent several weeks on the Texas Regional Radio Top 100 chart.)
Like all musicians, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in Pérez and his band losing many gigs. He has seen other bands and artists try drive-in shows and livestream concerts, but he's waiting until he feels comfortable to follow suit.
“It’s frustrating, because I’m old school, in that sense,” he says. “I have a calendar, an actual paper calendar. Like, you flip the month, every month. I flip the page, and I write in there, you know what I mean? ... The frustrating part is seeing all of these dates where I originally had gigs planned with my band. For example, the other day, I would’ve been at the Greek Theatre with the Lobos. And you see that date come and go, and it's like, ‘Man, we're still stuck in this pandemic.’ All we can do is hope that it’s over pretty quickly.”
And the “Selena” movie really did get Pérez’s tastes right. Last fall, he launched Pérez Pepper Sauce, his own brand of hot sauce that he created after being unable to find any spicy enough for his liking. He even recorded music and a voiceover for a radio spot about it. The sauce originally launched online via CaJohn’s Fiery Foods Co. In October, Pérez Pepper Sauce landed on shelves at more than 150 H-E-B stores in Texas, selling about 20,000 bottles within the first three weeks.
It’s a match made in heaven for Pérez: "99.9% of the time, if I'm leaving the house, I'm going H-E-B. I love it there. I could get lost.”
Pérez hopes the sauce brand becomes a household name, along with the lines of Cholula and Dave’s.
“I want it to be taken seriously,” Pérez says. “I know that some people are going to buy it for the novelty factor, but I actually want people to enjoy it and to come back and get more and, hopefully, make it a staple in their homes.”
Fans will have to wait and see if anything like the movie’s hot sauce scene ends up in the Netflix show. And although Pérez still hasn’t decided whether he will be streaming the series, he knows the tale of his late wife’s rise to fame and tragic end remains moving, a quarter of a century after her death.
“It's a touchy thing for me, and I'm sure her family feels the same way,” he says. “There's going to be some difficult moments, and not having seen the script, I don't want to be caught off guard. I know for a fact that the story I know is inspiring, having been told by Selena herself.”