Noemí González Hopes Netflix's Selena Teaches People to "Be a Light When the Going Gets Rough"

You may know Noemí González as Soli Gomez from East Los High or Mia Rosales from Young and the Restless, but you’ll soon get to see her on the drums as Suzette Quintanilla for Netflix’s Selena: The Series. That’s right — the 32-year-old Mexican actress will be starring as the sister of late Tejano music icon Selena Quintanilla, and she’s well aware of how big of a feat that is.

While speaking with POPSUGAR, González recalled the moment she found out she booked the part, saying she was at home when she got the call from her reps. “I was laying down and my body jumped up in command, present with my phone. And I was like, ‘I’m sorry, what?’ I just remember really enjoying having that personal moment of, ‘Oh my God, did this just happen?’ And processing it on my own,” González said. “Then, I went to celebrate with a piece of chocolate cake at my favorite restaurant in LA. It’s been magical.”

Even though González has prior musical experience as a singer, she had to learn to play the drums for the role. “My musicianship was a little dormant because I was so focused on acting, and this role being so musically based, really reinvigorated a light in me, firing me to perform and to drum. It was incredibly challenging because the drums are such a demanding instrument, but I learned so much about myself,” she explained. In fact, González’s favorite scene to shoot just so happens to be the “Como La Flor” performance, which is featured in the show’s teaser trailer. “That experience was incredibly magical. It is a six-minute live performance. I had to learn the ‘Como La Flor’ album version and ‘Como La Flor’ live version, and I had to look like a pro. I had to do the live version for the show two and a half months after starting to learn the drums.”

As Selena’s older sister and drummer, Suzette was a major force in her life, and for González, the pressure of playing a real-life person — and the executive producer of the series — turned out to be her biggest challenge. “I had to meditate early on that and make sure that I cut any unnecessary pressure on myself, because I didn’t want anything to get in the way with me doing the best that I did and the best that I could,” she added. “So, that was probably the biggest challenge when it came to playing this role was, everyone reminding me that I’m playing one of the bosses. And everyone reminding me that, she’s going to see this. And making sure that none of that got in my head, and instead, it went in my heart, mind, and spirit to channel everything for this story.”

Selena was one of the biggest (if not the biggest!) Tejano singers of all time, but her life was tragically cut short when she was fatally shot by the president of her fan club and manager of her boutiques, Yolanda Saldívar, in Corpus Christi, TX, on March 31, 1995. Being that González was and continues to be a fan of Selena, getting to play Suzette is more than just a role to her. “To say I’m a huge fan of Selena is an understatement. I am such a devoted fan. I was following her before she even was a mainstream, Mexican popular icon. I was following her with my mom when she was appearing on Sábado Gigante and Siempre en Domingo,” she explained. “My mom already knew that this girl was about to be a huge star, so we watched those shows together. She handed me the Amor Prohibido album. I remember putting it in my CD stereo back in the day and dancing in the merits of songs that I really had no life experience to be singing about, but I felt those vibes and felt alive, vibrant, sassy, and fun — being a young little Mexican girl, listening to a Mexican girl producing such amazing music.”

Given the major influence Selena had on González’s life, her unexpected death hit her pretty hard. “The year she passed, I just was in disbelief and in denial,” she said. “And then the following year, my brother unfortunately passed away. And then the year after that, the [Selena] movie came out, so I really grieved with the family. I grieved Selena, I grieved my brother all at the same time. So, I’ve really been attached to her in a very personal way. It has just been incredible to have so much of my own personal history, my own personal interests, be applied to my professional life in a way that I could give back to her the way that she’s given to me.”

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