In Selena: The Series, part one of which is out on Netflix as of Dec. 4, Christian Serratos, Ricardo Chavira, and their fellow castmates are almost indistinguishable from their real-life counterparts of Selena Quintanilla, her dad Abraham, and the rest of the Quintanilla family. In the series' first 10 episodes, Serratos and the whole band of Quintanilla doppelgängers recreate Selena's early life and sky-rocketing rise to success in what the late Tejano singer's sister Suzette (an executive producer on the series) described in a statement as a "never-before-seen glimpse at our story."
This spot-on reenactment of the Grammy winner's life, of course, required Serratos not only to step into Selena's trademark bedazzled bustiers and platform heels, but also to recreate some of her most memorable high-energy performances as accurately as possible—a mission she definitely accomplished. The big question, then, is whether that means Serratos learned to sing just like Selena, or if she lip-synced along to some other singer's track. Here are all the answers, plus more about Serratos' preparation for the role.
Is Christian Serratos really singing in Selena: The Series?
Kind of. Any time you hear her warming up her singing voice or belting out a quick verse mid-scene, that's all Serratos, she told The Wall Street Journal. During the actual performances, however, she's lip-syncing along to the real Selena.
Serratos told Variety that it was largely her choice to dub in Selena's voice, despite the showrunners' plan to have their lead actress do all her own singing and despite Serratos' own passion for singing. "I think people were confused by that because I never wanted to be a pop star, but I always wanted to act in films where I got the opportunity to just sing. They were like, 'Here's your chance to show people you can sing.' I was like, 'But it's not about me; it's never been about me,'" she said. "I just want the fans to see their girl. I want them to see their girl. I don't want to hear me. I want to hear Selena."
Fun fact: This is the same route Jennifer Lopez took when she was playing the legendary singer in the 1997 biopic Selena. J.Lo's own voice can be heard for just a few seconds in the movie, in the intro to her performance of "Como la Flor," before she switched back to lip-syncing over Selena's vocals.
How did Serratos prepare to play Selena?
Lip-syncing might sound easy, but doing so while also perfectly capturing an iconic performer's stage presence is a tough assignment. Serratos recently told Marie Claire that she spent months studying Selena's concert footage and interviews, brushed up on her Spanish, and even cut her own bangs before auditioning for the part after learning that Selena had done the same.
After all of that intense work, Serratos found the key to representing Selena's essence onscreen lies in the late singer's signature self-confidence.
"I'm not a professional pop star, you know?" she said. "I had to trust myself and do [the dance steps] the way that I felt she was doing them. It made me more confident, which in turn made it not matter if it was right or wrong. Because the thing that Selena had, that was so special, was her confidence."
Is Madison Baez, who plays a younger Selena on the show, actually singing?
Yes! The 9-year-old—who's known around her native Los Angeles as "Anthem Girl" for her jaw-dropping renditions of the national anthem at sporting and other events—shows off her incredible pipes in two episodes of Selena: The Series, playing a younger version of Serratos' character. And Baez's powerful vocals aren't where her uncanny resemblance to Selena stops: As she described to E! News, Baez, like Selena, was "discovered" and encouraged to sing by her father, and is also already well on her way to becoming a Selena-level superstar at a young age.