Fashion

All About Suzette Quintanilla, Selena’s Sister and Drummer

In Netflix’s Selena: The Series, the only member of the Quintanilla family resistant to joining a band is Suzette (played by Noemí Gonzalez). “The drummer is the heart of the band,” her father Abraham (Ricardo Chavira) insists, leading Suzette to join Selena y Los Dinos alongside her two siblings, Selena (Christian Serratos) and A.B. (Gabriel Chavarria).

The real-life Suzette, now 53, stopped playing the drums after the tragic 1995 death of Selena. But the tight-knit bond she shared with her sister is on full display in the new Netflix series, which Suzette executive produced. “There’s no Beatles without Ringo, and there’s no Selena without Suzette,” Selena tells her older sister in the show. Ahead, a look back at the pair’s friendship, Suzette’s longtime marriage, and how she’s preserving her late sister’s memory.

Suzette really did have to be convinced to join Selena y Los Dinos.

As depicted in Selena: The Series, Suzette was the lone holdout in the Quintanilla family when it came to becoming a musician. While A.B. embraced the bass and Selena’s voice led the group, Suzette had to be persuaded to learn the drums. “Dad was taken aback by how good her voice was,” Suzette told Texas Monthly in 2010 of Selena’s raw talent. “He was already teaching A.B. how to play the bass, so I got drafted to be the drummer, which was a constant fight with me, because I couldn’t stand it. Girl drummers were not exactly cool back then.”

Suzette attributed some of her insecurities to her own self-esteem. “I was in middle school, and I didn’t want to be looked at. I just felt really self-conscious,” she told the magazine. Plus, the family’s punishing performance schedule also made it challenging to maintain a regular social calendar. “Life on the road was fun, but we missed out on a lot,” Suzette said. “If we went to a school dance, it was because we were the entertainment. Me and Selena would talk about guys between sets, like, ‘Did you see that guy in the front? Wearing the blue shirt? He was cute!’ After the performance was over, when guys would come up and ask for autographs, Dad would tell us, ‘Straight to the bus!'”

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She knew about Selena’s secret relationship with Chris Pérez before their father found out.

Another plot point in the first season of Selena is her forbidden romance with Selena y Los Dinos guitarist Chris Pérez (Jesse Posey). In real life and on the show, Abraham forbade any members of the group from dating each other; if he found out about Selena and Chris, the guitarist would be fired. In real life, Suzette says she knew about the couple’s relationship long before Abraham found out. “They kept things quiet for a long time,” she told Texas Monthly. “When I started having my suspicions, I told them, ‘I’m not involved, and if Dad asks me, I’m going to say I don’t know anything.”

Eventually, Abraham did find out about the couple and kicked Chris out of the band. “Chris was out of the band for a while, and Selena was miserable the entire time,” Suzette recalled in the interview. “The tension was hard on all of us. Dad called me one day when we were back in Corpus and said, ‘Well, she did it. Your sister ran off and eloped.'” Chris and Selena married in 1992 and he was accepted into the Quintanilla family soon after.

Suzette and Chris in 2016.

Jordan MurphGetty Images

She shares a son with her husband Bill Arriaga.

In the series, as Selena tries to shield her relationship with Chris, Suzette is falling in love with her eventual husband Bill Arriaga (Christian Escobar).

In real life, the couple has been married nearly 30 years and have a son named Jovan.

mac selena world premiere, corpus christi tx   press conference and media welcome

Bill, Suzette, and Jovan in 2016.

Jordan MurphGetty Images

She’s continuing to preserve Selena’s memory.

While Suzette doesn’t play the drums anymore, her sister’s legacy continues to be of the utmost importance. She’s CEO and president of operations at Q Productions in Corpus Christi, where she manages the family’s Tejano record company and the official Selena museum. Suzette also plays a role in the bestselling Selena MAC Cosmetics collection, a venture that was important for her to preserve following her sister’s death. “When Selena passed away, one of the three things she was working on was her clothing line, a makeup line, and a perfume line,” Suzette told Refinery29 earlier this year. “I promised myself that by the time I leave this world, I will accomplish what she started; what she held dear to her heart.”

Suzette is also regularly on hand for events that celebrate Selena’s life, including the unveiling of a wax figure of the music icon at Madame Tussauds in 2016 and her 2017 induction into the Hollywood Walk of Fame celebration.

She’s an executive producer of Selena: The Series.

selena quintanilla honored posthumously with star on the hollywood walk of fame

Chris Pérez and the Quintanilla family at Selena’s 2017 Hollywood Walk of Fame star ceremony.

David LivingstonGetty Images

One major way Suzette is continuing to preserve Selena’s legacy is through her involvement in the new Netflix show. In addition to producing the series, she reportedly met with Noemí Gonzalez, the actress who plays her in the show. “We had a wonderful time with her. It went from a half-hour session to an hour-and-a-half. It was beautiful,” Gonzalez told OprahMag.com of the cast’s meeting with Suzette. She added, “Because of COVID, the [Quintanilla] family wasn’t able to come to set. That gave an opportunity for objective shaping of Suzette’s character. I had my own personal history, the archives, the series, and creative license. We see her now as a person who continues to lead Selena’s legacy.”

Suzette has continued to praise the series on Instagram, sharing billboards and photos from the show on her feed:

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