Selena Writers Speak Out Against Netflix Treatment on New Series

The second part of Selena: The Series arrived on Netflix last month and the series, which told the story of beloved Tejano singer Selena's rise to fame had been much-anticipated, debuting its first part in December 2020. Unfortunately, both parts were poorly received by viewers and critics alike. Now, those involved with the project are speaking out about the mishandling of the series, including allegations from the writers that they were underpaid and the series given a much smaller budget than by the streamer than other projects.

In a feature in the L.A. Times, sources reveal that the series was "ordered as a Latin American original with a modest budget to match — well under $2 million per episode." By contrast, Netflix's The Crown reportedly has a budget of $13 million per episode.

"The show sort of experienced what Selena experienced," said co-executive producer Henry Robles. "From the beginning, she wanted to sing in English. But people didn't know what to do with her. The music industry didn’t know how to categorize [her] or they expected certain things of her because she was Mexican American. And it’s similar to this show."

Gladys Rodriguez told the Times that she feels like the show was never given a fair chance.

"I feel like our work was cheapened from the start. We were never given a fair chance," Rodriguez said. "Representation is what we want but it goes beyond that — we want to be treated equally."

And for the series' writers, that lack of a fair chance and equal treatment is evident in the pay. Because the series had a $2 million per episode budget, it allowed production to take advantage of a loophole in the Writers Guild of America rules for writer compensation rate. According to some staffers, they were paid between 30 percent and 50 percent less for their work on the series, which was filmed in Mexico, than typical pay for series that film in the United States.

A spokesperson for Netflix responded to the claims, telling the Times that "the company believes the writers were compensated fairly based on quotes negotiated by their U.S. representation."

Even with the allegations, showrunner Moises Zamora says he is "really proud" of what they were able to accomplish with the series.

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"The fact that we were able to get 14 Latinx writers to take on this thing, with all the challenges we faced ... my goal is to continue making the case that our stories are worth telling — they deserve as much as any other production," he said. "I'm really proud that we got to make an incredible show given what we were given."

Selena: The Series is now streaming on Netflix.