Actress was accused of being the ''wrong kind'' of Latino

As if seeing Glenn Close, Jeremy Irons, and Marisa Tomei as Latinos in recent films weren’t insulting enough, Puerto Rican-American actress Jennifer Lopez was met with a backlash from a small corner of the Latino community for being the wrong kind of Latina to play slain Tejano singer Selena. ”I know a few people were protesting, but in Corpus [Christi, Tex., Selena’s hometown] everyone has been really supportive,” Lopez insists. Selena director Gregory Nava (Mi Familia) admits: ”It was a little hurtful. [The protesters] should be celebrating that we have an all-Latino cast and that Jennifer Lopez, one of our own, is becoming a star.”

Lopez, 25, currently in Jack as angelic fifth-grade teacher Miss Marquez (a part originally written as a 35-year-old Anglo named Miss Wargo), endured a grueling Selena screen test that Nava remembers included ”nine minutes of singing and dancing and eight pages of script.” (Lopez will lip-synch over Selena’s songs in the film.) But nothing could have prepared her for the hype attached to her million-dollar salary. ”There are so many other beautiful things to focus on,” Lopez says. ”Selena did so much in her short life.”

It is Selena’s life, and not her sudden death, that Nava intends to document in the film, due early next year. ”I don’t want to attend to [her murder],” he says. ”We treat it at a distance.” Until Selena begins filming at the end of the month, Lopez is perfecting Selena’s dialect and studying performance footage of the pop sensation. ”This is someone who’s fresh in the public’s mind,” Lopez reasons. ”So you need to do your homework on this gig.”

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