With Selena: The Series set to be released later this year on Netflix, Madison Taylor Baez will be making her series regular TV debut as Young Selena, with the show being based on the life of singer Selena Quintanilla. Along with acting, Madison also enjoys singing and has performed the National Anthem on numerous occasions, including for the LA Dodgers and Harlem Globetrotters, and has performed her own sets at Orange County & LA Fairs. Madison answered our questions about being cast as Young Selena, filming for the upcoming series and performing the National Anthem.
You’re making your series regular TV debut later this year in Selena: The Series on Netflix as Young Selena, how did you find the experience on set?
It was amazing and so much fun. Everyone from the director Hiro, to the producers, to the production staff and cast were so welcoming and respectful.
How long were you filming and what was a typical day on set like?
I was on location filming for three months. Every day on set, I would always get breakfast at the production cafeteria then go to my dressing/set room. Depending on the shoot schedule, I would start with school with my set teacher. In between that, I would go to hair and makeup and shoot my scenes throughout the day and break for lunch and dinner. I would always go over my scenes and script the night before to be prepared for the next day’s shoot.
What was it like meeting and working with your on-screen family?
It was great!! They all were so nice. We really all bonded like a family and had plenty of laughs every day. I got very close with Daniela Estrada who played Young Suzette. We had school together and were always together. Ricardo Chavira, who plays my dad Abraham, was great too! He was always making me laugh and giving me encouragement. Seidy Lopez, who plays my mom Marcella, was just like my real mom who could not always be on location with me so Seidy treated me like I was her real daughter, always looking out for me.
How did you prepare for your role and how was it getting into character for the first time?
I watched all of Selena’s singing videos throughout her career, especially videos of her at my age. I learned to sing in Spanish, which was fun, as well as learn a little Texas accent. Getting into character the first time started when the stylist had to cut my long hair to my shoulders and gave me Young Selena’s hairstyle. I then put on the clothes from back in those days, and I remember standing and looking in the mirror and I was like WOW!! I’m Young Selena. It was a surreal moment.
What have you enjoyed most about filming for the series and sharing the role with Christian Serratos?
I really loved going to different locations to shoot as well as recording and singing the songs for the show. Also, being able to relive the moments in Selena’s life and tell her and her family’s story was an awesome experience. Working with Christian was fun. She is really nice. We worked on the show’s promo together. I also gave her a personal tour of the studio when she arrived.
The series is based on the life of late singer Selena Quintanilla, what’s it been like learning about her journey to success?
Learning about Selena and what an incredible singer, entertainer and person she was and all the hard work she put in is so inspiring. Especially for me as a young Latina singer and actress. I hope to one day achieve her success and her humility.
Why would you recommend people watch the series when it arrives on Netflix later this year?
To see me, of course, as Young Selena haha! Also, to be inspired by Selena’s story and see how it all started for the family and Selena, as well as see all the sacrifices it took and what the family endured to achieve success.
What are you looking forward to for the release and telling Selena’s story?
I’m looking forward to seeing it with all my family who have given and supported me so much. As well as hoping a whole new generation will learn all about Selena, her amazing music and what a great person she was and still is to so many people.
You first got into music when you were very young, what are some of your favourite songs to perform?
I perform a lot of the Motown music. Respect by Aretha Franklin, I Want You Back by The Jackson 5, and pretty much all of Bruno Mars’ songs.
What’s it like performing at sports events such as for LA Galaxy and Harlem Globetrotters?
It’s pretty incredible to perform for those teams as well as the LA Dodgers, LA Lakers and LA Rams, all my favourite teams. I am a big sports fan.
Can you describe the feeling of standing in front of a huge crowd performing the National Anthem?
I get a little nervous right beforehand, but as soon as they give me the mic, my nerves instantly go away. The energy of 50,000 fans is pretty awesome and seeing all the players watching me is cool too. But hearing the crowd chant “Anthem Girl! Anthem Girl!” after I finish is an incredible feeling. It gives me nothing but smiles and makes me so proud because The Star-Spangled Banner is the greatest song ever to sing.
How was it performing two forty-minute shows alone at the Orange County & LA Fairs?
That was pretty awesome and crazy too because what started out as a small crowd watching me turned into hundreds and hundreds of people from all over the fair haha! I was told that word got around fast that a tiny girl was singing and performing all these Motown and Bruno Mars songs. They even had to bring in the security guys with yellow shirts to handle the crowds. In between songs, I asked my dad, “what’s happening?”, he said, “they all are coming to see you”. I was like really!! Then I got even more energy! Then it happened again at the other fairs. Haha!
What music do you enjoy listening to and are there any UK artists you particularly love?
I love and sing all genres of music from the 50s to now. I learned so many songs and developed my voice from going into my dad’s iTunes from the age of three years old and listening and singing to all his music. I absolutely love Adele and Freddie Mercury and sing so many of their songs.
Can you tell us how your acting career came about and had you always wanted to get into acting alongside music?
I started acting by doing commercials at seven years old, and in the last two years, I have filmed eleven national commercials. I loved it a lot and it seemed to be a very natural progression for me. Then I co-starred in the short film The Tooth Racket that recently won Best Comedy this past April at the Hollywood Just 4 Shorts Festival. Acting and singing, for me, are pretty similar in that I have to learn lines or lyrics and perform the song or role with the emotions based on the character I am playing or the song I’m singing.
How do you like to spend your free time?
With my family, friends and my two doggies Jax and Oreo. I love to paint, play football, soccer and cook.
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