San Antonio native Ricardo Chavira says playing Abraham Quintanilla in new ‘Selena’ series was emotional

New Selena series will start streaming on Netflix on Dec. 4

San Antonio native Ricardo Chavira discusses taking on role of Abraham Quintanilla in new Selena series
San Antonio native Ricardo Chavira discusses taking on role of Abraham Quintanilla in new Selena series

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio native Ricardo Chavira has been acting in TV and movies for nearly 20 years.

But his current role, playing Abraham Quintanilla in the forthcoming “Selena” series on Netflix, has taken on a special significance.

Telling the story of Selena and her family’s struggle and success was something he identified closely with.

“I remember reading it, I started crying because it was like that was informing about my life,” said Chavira. “So, I just wanted to make sure that I gave it the best representation that I could.”

Chavira was initially hesitant about taking on the role of the patriarch of the Quintanilla family, but he watched interviews, pictures and old clips and realized Abraham’s presence was already a part of his life.

“I see this patriarchal Mexican-American man everywhere in San Antonio,” said Chavira. “He sounds, he looks, he resembles and acts like my father, like my tio Jose, like my tio Fabián.”

SELENA THE SERIES (L to R) NOEMI GONZALEZ as SUZETTE QUINTANILLA and CHRISTIAN SERRATOS as SELENA QUINTANILLA and GABRIEL CHAVARRIA as A.B QUINTANILLA in episode 101 of SELENA THE SERIES Cr. Sara Khalid/NETFLIX � 2020

Chavira also recognized the production would be special after learning it would be led by Jaime Davila, the founder of Campanario Entertainment.

Davila is a McAllen, Texas, native who has been a strong advocate for mainstream Latino representation in the entertainment industry.

“He’s really got this great mission statement for Latinos telling Latino stories,” said Chavira. “It was fully realized on this series and one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.”

Being authentic to Selena’s story and her family’s roots was something Chavira felt was possible because the series had Mexican-American writers and producers from South Texas.

He believes Selena’s story told in this series will resonate with people around the world because the story is a universal one.

“This is the story of an American family trying to be successful, an American family trying to get that dream for themselves,” said Chavira. “To be able to see it through the eyes, the voices and the faces of this Mexican-American family.”

SELENA THE SERIES (L to R) CARLOS ALFREDO JR. as JOE OJEDAand HUNTER REESE PENA as RICKY VELA and NOEMI GONZALEZ as SUZETTE QUINTANILLA and CHRISTIAN SERRATOS as SELENA QUINTANILLA and GABRIEL CHAVARRIA as A.B QUINTANILLA and JESSE POSEY as CHRIS PEREZ in Trailer of SELENA THE SERIES Cr. Michael Lavine/NETFLIX � 2020

Throughout his career, the San Antonio actor has seen more steps being taken by Latinos, but it has ultimately been a long game.

“We didn’t have enough representation behind the camera as producers, as writers and directors, and we’re seeing more of that now,” said Chavira. “We need more. Representation matters.”

Chavira said he is positive the true and genuine parts of South Texas and the Quintanilla family will shine through in this series.

It’s a role he wanted to showcase in the best possible way.

“I had to be very caring about it and I just wanted to make sure that I did my absolute best work possible to make sure I was representing this story, but also our region.”

The new “Selena” series starts streaming on Netflix on Dec. 4.

RELATED: WATCH: ‘Siempre Selena’ - A KSAT-12 Special

RELATED: New course all about Selena’s legacy, Mexican-American culture at University of Texas at San Antonio

RELATED: ‘It was never just the music, people loved Selena’: Abraham Quintanilla reflects on Selena’s legacy


About the Authors:

RJ Marquez has been at KSAT since 2010. He's covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area, and is the lead reporter for KSAT Explains. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms. You can see RJ regularly on KSAT Explains and Good Morning San Antonio. He also writes a weekly Spurs newsletter.