Fun fact: Madison Taylor Beaz had no idea who Selena Quintanilla was when she was first cast to play a young version of the late Tejano singer.
That might sound startling, but at only 9 years old, well, it's fair to give her a pass. In an exclusive interview with E! News, Baez opens up about the casting process for Netflix's upcoming biographical drama, Selena: The Series, which premieres Dec. 4.
"My mom and dad were huge fans of Selena's and they told me all about her and I fell in love with her," Baez says, of course referring to the iconic 1997 film in which Jennifer Lopez played Selena. "I watched the movie, I researched her, she's one of my idols and she inspires me to follow my dreams."
For Baez, who calls herself a "proud Latina," the audition process took about three months until she finally received the exciting news one day at soccer practice (so pure!).
In addition to Baez, The Walking Dead actress Christian Serratos portrays an adult-aged Selena. And yes, Baez has gotten to know her on set. "She's super fun and I actually got to give Christian a tour of the set and I got to show her all of the different houses in the neighborhood," Baez says. To really immerse herself into the role, she also toured Corpus Christi, Texas, Selena's hometown, and met a few members of the Quintanilla family.
As fans will soon learn, Baez is also an excellent dancer and singer who perfectly belts out Selena's "Como La Flor." Her drive and passion for singing was fueled after her father was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer and she'd sing to him at the hospital. Adding that he's much better, she says, "He just really inspired me to keep on going and keep on singing."
Because that's not enough for the young overachiever, Baez plays six instruments (the piano and the electric guitar are her favorite) and has a new Christmas album due soon. As she says, "My ultimate dream is to inspire other people to follow their dreams."
As for her top-rated Selena song? It's a given: "I'd have to say 'Bidi Bidi Bom Bom' because that's my favorite song and, like, I love dancing to it."
Selena: The Series hits Netflix on Dec. 4.