30-year-old Christian Serratos has been making waves since she first appeared in Twilight as Angela Weber, a role she reprised for the sequels New Moon and Eclipse.
But now that The Walking Dead's Rosita Espinosa is set to star in Selena: The Series as the Tejano pop star herself, fans are curious to learn more about the California-born actress.
Is Christian Serratos Mexican or of Mexican descent like Selena Quintanilla was? Keep reading for details on her heritage and upbringing.
Is Christian Serratos Mexican?
Christian identifies as Mexican American, and has opened up about being born to a Mexican mother and Italian father. "I grew up in Burbank," she told Ask Men. "I was in a big family. My mom's Mexican and my dad's Italian, so there's a bunch of us."
"I definitely grew up with my mom's heritage all around," she continued. "My family spoke Spanish in the house. Our Hispanic culture was definitely there."
The same can obviously be said for the late Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, who didn't grow up speaking Spanish and learned the lyrics to her Spanish-language songs phonetically with her father's help, as is shown in the 1997 biopic that stars Jennifer Lopez.
Christian explained to the Los Angeles Times that she could relate to some of these aspects of Selena's upbringing. "We both grew up Mexican American and struggled with things like language and wanting to feel included," she said. "And she has been trying to break out into the industry for so long, and oftentimes, it wasn't easy for her because she was a young girl, she was a Latina."
"All of the things that made her a legend and made her a star started when she was a kid," Christian reflected. "I felt her so desperately trying to convince people that her ideas were innovative, and she trusted in herself so much, and I really admire that."
"Her struggle was the struggle," she said of Selena in another interview with Marie Claire. "She was working so hard to accomplish things as a woman, as a minority. I hope people see the walls she worked to tear down to be respected, to be heard."
For Christian, one of the most emotional scenes of shooting Selena came about when her character begs her father (Desperate Housewives' Ricardo Chavira) to let her sing in English in addition to Spanish. "I'm Mexican and American, right?" Selena asks him at one point in the series. "You want me to be only half of who I am."
Christian said this scene struck her particularly. "I felt not enough one or the other growing up," she says about her Mexican-American heritage, "and I've felt that in this industry immensely."
"The amount of times I've been on the phone [with a casting director] and said, 'But why can't I?' and actually been told, 'because you're not white,'" Christian recalls, adding, "It never ends."
So she's grateful, she told the LA Times, "that the first time I had the responsibility, and I had the opportunity, to be a leading woman, that I'm playing this woman."
Part one of the two-part Selena: The Series premieres on Netflix Dec. 4.