‘Selena: The Series’ Creators Say That Netflix Mishandled Their Series, Over-Worked And Under-Paid Them
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The team behind “Selena: The Series” on Netflix is saying that the streaming company underpaid and overworked them. In a lengthy piece in the Los Angeles Times, the creatives behind “Selena: The Series” said that they faced subtle discrimination by Netflix.
The team behind “Selena: The Series” say that Netflix gave them a fraction of the budget of comparable non-Latino shows. They also allege that writers were lowballed compared to non-Latino writers.
Although “Selena: The Series” is an English-language series that centers on an American protagonist, Netflix ordered the series as a “Latin American original”. Along with that (inaccurate) label came a low budget. According to the L.A. Times, Netflix gave “Selena: The Series” a budget of $2 million per episode. In comparison, “The Crown” (another period-set drama with elaborate costumes and set pieces) got $13 million per episode.
Since the show was not classified as a “high-budget” production by the writer’s union, the show’s staff was subsequently compensated poorly. They estimate that they were paid 30% to 50% less per week than writers in similar jobs. They were also given 20 weeks to finish 2 seasons, or 18 episodes. Normally, show writers are given 20 weeks to finish an 8-episode series. In other words, the show’s team was forced to work at break-neck speed.
The team behind “Selena: The Series” believes that what happened to them is just a snapshot of the larger experience Latinos in Hollywood face at every turn.
Same! I watch the Crown and when I noticed just from the previews that the production quality was unequal to what they had done with the crown I was done. It's tiring that we are never enough or never worth enough.— Nancy (@LokiLoquita) June 11, 2021
Although Selena Quintanilla has a massive, devoted fan base all over the world, the producers of the series initially had a hard time even getting it made in the first place.
“We knew ‘Selena: The Series’ could be a huge hit, so we were very saddened when we pitched it to several traditional networks in Hollywood and no one bought it,” one of the producers, Jaime Dávila, said in a statement to the L.A. Times.
He continued: “When Netflix came into the picture, we were thrilled that the biggest global platform saw the potential of a series about a cultural icon whose reach transcends borders and cultures.” But Netflix, like many other Hollywood fixtures, seemed to take the Latino talent and storyline for granted.
“The show sort of experienced what Selena experienced,” said co-executive producer Henry Robles.
I couldn't watch the show after a couple episodes. The budget limitations were obvious and the recreations of Selena's costumes were disrespectful. She was FASHION. There is just no excuse for taking all these talented people and treating and paying them like shit.— Oliver Damien (@theomen777) June 12, 2021
“From the beginning, she wanted to sing in English. But people didn’t know what to do with her,” Robles explained. “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.”
The obvious low-budget and pressed time frame might have been one of the reasons for the show’s backlash. Many fans took to social media to express disappointment at the cheap-looking wigs and costumes. What the fans didn’t know, however, was that the team behind “Selena: The Series” was doing the best they could.
“I feel like our work was cheapened from the start,” said staff writer Gladys Rodriguez. “We were never given a fair chance…Representation is what we want but it goes beyond that — we want to be treated equally.”
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