The film stars Jennifer Lopez in her breakout role as Selena. Selena's father Abraham Quintanilla Jr. (who served as the producer in the film) is played by Edward James Olmos and Constance Marie plays Selena's mother Marcella Quintanilla. Selena was released on March 21, 1997 in the United States to positive reviews from critics and audiences.
The film begins on February 26, 1995, with American Tejano music singer Selena (Jennifer Lopez) performing to a sold out concert at the Astrodome in Houston, Texas. Flashing back to Corpus Christi, Texas in 1961, a young Abraham Quintanilla Jr. (Edward James Olmos) and his band, Los Dinos, are rejected for an audition by the restaurant owner due to their Mexican-American ancestry. Crushed, Abraham gives up his music career.
In 1981, Abraham is now married to Marcella (Constance Marie) and has three children, A.B. (Jacob Vargas), Suzette (Jackie Guerra), and Selena. One day Selena finds her father playing music and sings along. Enchanted by his daughter's talent, Abraham decides to start a band with Selena as lead vocalist, A.B. on bass, and Suzette on drums, despite Suzette's protests that "girls don't play drums". The band, Selena y Los Dinos, performs often at the Mexican restaurant the family opens, and receive a positive reception from the diners. Eventually, the business goes bankrupt, and the family moves to Corpus Christi.
The actions moves ahead to 1989, where Selena y Los Dinos are playing a concert at a fair. Abraham is shocked when Selena peels off her jacket and performs in a beaded bra. He confronts Selena on the band's bus, but she points out that her mother helped her make it, and that other fashionable female musicians such as Madonna and Janet Jackson are wearing bustiers too. Abraham relents, and Selena begins to design more and more of her band's attire.
When the band needs a new guitarist, A.B. recommends Chris Pérez (Jon Seda), and auditions him to his father. Abraham is hesitant to hire Chris because of his tough-guy, heavy metal image, but A.B. points out that "It's just musician stuff". Abraham agrees to hire Chris if he will cut his hair. Chris restyles his hair with Suzette's help and joins the band. The touring band stops off at a roadside diner, where Suzette hears a radio announcement that "Como la Flor" has reached number one on the music charts; the band and family celebrate when Suzette returns with the news. Selena and Chris begin to have romantic feelings for each other. Selena's mother is supportive, but Abraham angrily fires Chris when he finds them hugging on the tour bus. Selena tearfully objects, but a furious Abraham threatens to disband the group if she continues to see him.