For some, a lipstick is just a lipstick. But for others, it's a source of strength, creativity, and expression. In our series Power Faces, we explore the relationship between strong women and the makeup they choose to wear — or not. Our latest subject is 30-year-old actress Christian Serratos, who portrays the late Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla in Netflix’s upcoming Selena: The Series. This story was told to Thatiana Diaz and edited for length and clarity.
As a kid, I did competitive figure skating and would wear a little bit of makeup when I went on the ice. I remember my mom using a red MAC lipstick on my cheeks, eyelids, nose, and chin. I knew that makeup was a part of the sport, and I just let my mom take liberties; I was a kid and such a tomboy. Then, as I got older and started acting at a young age, beauty and fashion became something I was interested in. I was on sets and watching people do my makeup, learning and stealing what I liked and didn't like. Artists used lipstick for blush and lip gloss on the eyelids for shine. I had never seen that before, and I thought that was so creative. Creativity is what I love about beauty.
Now, I really only have two looks that I go between, and that is big oversized T-shirts and sweatpants, tennies, hoops, zero makeup. And then I have red lips, finger waves, and a dress. I don't do in-between often. I almost always feel complete with a red lip, and I've had many makeup artists or people tell me, "You need to try different things," but that's how I've always felt most beautiful. I'm drawn to old Hollywood glamour. It's difficult for me to stray from the side-part finger waves, the 1940s hair, and red lips.
Breaking The Ice
In life, we police women's bodies a lot, and it can be very judgmental, especially in this industry. I'm so attracted to the burlesque style, and I would love it if more people brought that into everyday or red carpet fashion. Hopefully I get to be a part of that change. But maybe by doing that, I can show people that there's still a businesswoman underneath. I realized that this fight is an added part of my job. We have to work a little harder, especially as women. You have to teach people how you will and will not be spoken to, but as a "minority" you've built in an extra job. It is what it is, but we're better for it.
I've often struggled with wearing something that I think is beautiful, but being worried that it will be perceived as overly sexual or not serious. We associate sexiness with unprofessionalism, and I hate that. Latinas are so often typecast, especially as sexy. I've brought that up to people, and they get confused and say, "Well, that's not a bad thing." I know it's not a bad thing, but I don't want to be just sexy or tough. I want to be all of it, and I want that to be ok. I've been in this industry a while, and I had my frustrations growing up and fighting for opportunities. I'm fed up with not being able to be anything that I want to be.
Entre A Mi Mundo
Selena took so many risks, and she was exactly who she wanted to be in the moment that she wanted to be it. I really connected with that. In the first season, we see her coming of age and we see her try on these different looks. I was shocked as a fan to know that she experimented that much creatively. That's such a great example for other Latinas, for women, for kids, and my daughter. I want my daughter to feel supported to try whatever she wants at whatever age when it comes to beauty.
I obviously felt a lot of pressure because this woman is very loved, and I wanted to show all the respect. We put a lot of emphasis on getting things identical where we could and where there was footage. We tried copying things exactly, like her accepting awards or performances. We studied them very carefully to try to get them as close to perfect as possible, like switching my hands when she changed hands on the microphone or stepping back with which leg.
I so badly wanted to get things right to make the fans happy and her family proud. We wanted to show all of her beauty moments as precisely as we could. There was huge attention to detail regarding her hair, makeup, and nails. I always admired that Selena did her own everything. She styled herself. She created all of these iconic looks we know. That's so powerful. She didn't have a stylist. She was all of it. So, for the second season, it felt like getting more into character by doing my own makeup. Now, it feels more like we're in Selena's universe. It was a lot of pressure, but there was no choice. You did it, or you didn't — and I just did it.