The actress talks about what it was like to play Selena's sister in the upcoming Netflix show, premiering December 4.

Noemí Gonzalez plays former Los Dinos drummer Suzette Quintanilla, the sister of the slain 'Queen of Tex-Mex' Selena Quintanilla in Netflix's upcoming Selena: The Series. The Mexican American actress, 27, spoke to People CHICA about this fascinating and challenging character. "Suzette is the drummer, so I had to learn how to play the drums," she says. "I changed my overall appearance so I could really fall into the character easily. She is such a strong, beautiful, supportive sister that I love being able to portray. She is funny. She uses humor in order to get by in life."

The bond Suzette and Selena shared was special. "It was beautiful to get to play sisters that are so supportive and close," she shares. "Selena is her own foundation but she definitely leaned on her family whenever she needed to. Suzette was there as drummer and moral support. It's so nice to see that's going to be portrayed in the media — two sisters that are strong and loving toward each other."

Gonzalez says she has not met the real Suzette, but looks forward to it. "We will meet soon. It was planned to not meet so that we could work on our characters," she says. "We had a lot of content to pull from. We had the family's approval, Suzette's approval and blessing, the family's blessing. They provided material that would have been difficult to have without them."

Noemi Gonzalez
Credit: Vince Trupsin

The actress cut her hair and permed it to nail Suzette's signature look. "There is a lot of pressure on the actor to be malleable to become the character," she says. "It's been a beautiful, collaborative effort to make sure we do her story so much love and justice."

Filming the series during the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging. "We're pouring everything into it. We are away from our families, we are away even from fellow castmates and crew when we are not filming. It's been a very intense and exciting journey that was full of surprises."

Gonzalez — also known for her roles in The Young and the Restless and East Los High — says it was surreal to play on stage with Selena y Los Dinos for the show. "I have the best seat in the house playing Suzette as the drummer. I have the eagle-eye, behind-the-scenes view of us giving this performance," she says. "It's magical."

Noemi Gonzalez
Credit: Vince Trupsin

Gonzalez also has memorable roles this year in the film The Tax Collector and the Amazon Prime series Dark Web. "I definitely look for strength, but I also look for the extremes, for the weaknesses, because that's vulnerability and is still beautiful," she says of defying stereotypes with her characters. "People need to see that we're still human, we are all children of the same God, we are having the same fight in life, just with different conditions. I also make sure that if it's sexy, it's not more sexy than my Caucasian counterparts."

Meditating, connecting with nature, and leaning on loved ones has helped her stay optimistic during quarantine. "I have been checking in on me, on my own," she says. "Prayer, friends, family, and internal mindfulness has really been very helpful."