The late singer was shot and killed by the former president of her fan club at the age of 23 on March 31, 1995, two weeks before her birthday. Before that tragic day, Selena rose to fame and made history, landing five No. 1 singles on Billboard's Hot Latin Tracks chart and a Billboard 200 No. 1 with her fifth studio LP, Dreaming of You. She was the first Latin female act to do so.
When asked why Selena is still "so beloved" 20 years after she passed away, J.Lo told Billboard, "The grace with which she handled the business, the grace with which she handled her life, the humor. Her spirit of loving what she did. Her sense of family. That's the tragedy of everything that happened and why she left such an imprint -- because she was gone way too soon."
"The fact that she was so young and doing all of these things that people go through that maybe she wasn't ready for," the "Booty" crooner said, elaborating on Selena's grace. "The clothing line she was starting, getting married so young, things like that. I felt she had a sense to live in the moment, that you're not promised tomorrow. For me that was the biggest lesson. That affected me in my life far more profoundly than the movie did in career terms."
During one part of Selena, J.Lo performed a concert at the Houston Astrodome. While reflecting back on that moment, she said, "It was a real concert; 30,000 to 40,000 people showed up, just for her, for that scene, to re-create it. Afterward, her mom came and hugged me and held me and cried. It was very emotional. It touched the family very much. For me as an actress, at that moment I had learned how to really become a performer and give everything I had to the audience. That really freed me up, and it was a very powerful moment."
That moment – and studying Selena's artistry in general – was one of the main things that inspired her to launch a music career. "It had a lot to do with it -- all those performances. I sang in musicals before, but as part of a cast, never as a solo artist upfront or a recording artist. It made me realize, "Don't neglect parts of yourself and let people put you in a box because you're an actress. You can do this, and you can also do that. Life is short, and you don't know what's going to happen. Go for your dreams and don't let anyone hold you back."