Natasha Perez, who portrays Yolanda Saldivar in the new streaming series, told Entertainment Weekly that she had conflicting emotions about taking on the role. Yolanda was Selena's business associate and fan club president, and is currently serving out her life sentence for murdering the Tejano performer on March 31, 1995 in Corpus Christi, Texas.
"I remember thinking I'd like to see what it's like playing an evil villain," Natasha said in the interview that published on Friday, Dec. 4. "It sounded fascinating from an actor's standpoint, to dissect what someone like that has going through their minds."
The actress does not play a prominent role in the nine-episode first part of the series that launched on Friday, only appearing in a single scene in the final ninth episode.
"I remember working with the director on the scene, and she asked me how I was feeling," said the actress, who has also had roles on HBO's Room 104 and Curb Your Enthusiasm. "I told her I was feeling conflicted. The actress in me is fascinated by the journey of a complex character, but the human in me has all sorts of feelings. The actress in me is also worried for her safety."
Natasha explained that she doesn't want any viewers to have trouble separating the character from the performer.
"A lot of people take this very seriously and think that it's real, and in this case, the character is real, but it's not me," she continued. "I'm not her."
Natasha, who said she initially wanted to meet the real-life Yolanda but did not do so out of respect for Selena's family, stressed that the show is more focused on the singer's life than her untimely death.
"The series isn't about her death," she said. "Yolanda is there to add tension to what's going on, but what's going on is so beautiful because it's an artist finding herself, an artist emerging and finding her place within her family and society."
Chris Pérez, who was married to Selena along with being a member of her band, took to Instagram on Thursday, Dec. 3 to weigh in on the project that stars Christian Serratos in the title role. He wrote that while he hopes fans "enjoy this series," he is focusing more on his real-life memories and on respecting the musicianship of Selena and his fellow bandmates.