She stars as the Queen of Tejano in 'Selena: The Series,' premiering on Netflix today.

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Credit: Netflix, Victor Ceballos Olea

As a lifelong Selena Quintanilla fan, Christian Serratos felt “emotional” while portraying the Tejano icon in Netflix’s Selena: The Series, which premieres today, December 4th. The series follows the Mexican-American singer’s early life in Texas, atmospheric rise to fame, and tragic murder at the hands of her friend and former fan club president, Yolanda Saldívar, just before her 24th birthday. And portraying the late singer "hit close to home" for Serratos, who spoke to Billboard ahead of the show's premiere.

“Playing Selena was so surreal for me and it hit close to home because I had so much respect for her,” Serratos said. “A lot of the time I found myself very emotional and having to hold back those emotions.”

The Quintanilla family developed and produced the series alongside Netflix, so this portrayal will likely hew close to reality—and, beyond that, Serratos recently told People that she’s literally been listening to “Baila Esta Kumbia” since she was a baby. Still, Serratos told Billboard that she conducted a good amount of research into Quintanilla’s life, image, and discography in an effort to accurately portray the Queen of Tejano’s legendary “spirit and heart.”

“Even though I was a huge Selena fan, there was still so much to learn,” she said. “I was really caught off guard. I thought I knew every Selena song, but then I got the catalog and a lot of songs I have never heard before.”

She continued, “I watched everything that I could…Finding as much rare footage as I could. I grew up watching Selena’s performances, but I wanted to do a deeper dive and really just pay attention.”

Serratos also acknowledged how Selena’s success as one of the most celebrated Latina entertainers of the 20th century (and possibly of all time) paved the way for other Latinx women in the industry.

“She has created a path for herself when it was arguably difficult for Latinas. Being a woman in the industry is super tricky, but she managed to be incredibly powerful, strong, and resilient and [to] be a pioneer while being incredibly gracious, and I always thought that was so beautiful,” Serratos said.

Another pioneer whose big, stiletto’d shoes Serratos had to fill: Jennifer Lopez, who earned a Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal of Quintanilla in the 1997 biopic Selena. But if Serratos’ reverence, dedication, and “hard work” is any indication, we’d say she’s fully equipped to do both Latina icons justice.