Gomez set to portray legendary singer in long-awaited biopic
Selena Gomez is making a bold career move by signing on to play beloved singer Linda Ronstadt in an upcoming biopic about the Grammy winner’s groundbreaking life. The film, which does not yet have an official title but has Ronstadt’s blessing, will chronicle the musician’s rise from her beginnings singing Mexican canciones as a young girl in Tucson to becoming the most successful female rock star of the 1970s with hits like “You’re No Good” and “When Will I Be Loved.”
News broke earlier this week that the former Disney Channel star and pop singer would be taking on the meaty leading role. Multiple outlets confirmed that Ronstadt herself personally approved Gomez for the part.
“Selena’s very talented. I’m very impressed with her,” Ronstadt told The Hollywood Reporter. “I think she’ll do great.”
Mexican-American Icon to Be Portrayed By Mexican-American Star
At 31, Gomez is close in age to Ronstadt’s early career days. And as a Mexican-American performer know for singing in both English and Spanish, she seems a fitting choice to embody the Southern Arizona native of German, English and Mexican descent.
Ronstadt became the highest paid female singer of the 1970s by bridging rock, country, jazz, operatic styles and traditional Mariachi sounds she heard as a little girl. Gomez similarly leverages her cross-cultural appeal, blending pop, dance and Latin influences in her music.
The role has special resonance for Gomez, who opened up on social media when the news broke about what the part means to her:
“When I read Linda’s memoir, I was struck by her authenticity and her vulnerability. I related to her coming of age in the business the way I have. Singing her songs is an honor.”
|Pop, dance, Latin styles
|Rock, country, jazz, opera, Mariachi
|Peak chart success
|#1 Billboard Artist
|First female rock superstar
Colorful Career Marked by “Simple Dreams”
While Ronstadt racked up 10 Grammy Awards, produced over 30 studio albums and remains the top-selling female artist in U.S. history, her path was hardly straightforward.
The singer released her first folk album at age 18 only to be told she would never make it in rock because of her weight and ethnicity. After struggling for years, she finally got her break opening for Neil Young and began blending genres with her 1972 album Don’t Cry Now. Country, pop and rock hits soon followed, though she continued exploring new styles like American standards, Gilbert & Sullivan operettas and traditional Mexican canciones.
Ronstadt titled her 2013 memoir Simple Dreams for the figurative place she reached at the peak of her storied career. But her performing days were cut short at just 43 when she began showing symptoms of progressive supranuclear palsy, a degenerative brain disorder leaving her unable to sing.
The film will trace Ronstadt’s against-the-odds journey to becoming the highest paid woman in rock despite the era’s rampant sexism and her own self described “stupidity” navigating the industry. It promises to show her struggle for creative freedom and validation as she insisted on singing non-traditional styles over record company objections.
Long Road to Biopic Mirror’s Singer’s Own Circuitous Path
Bringing Ronstadt’s decades-spanning story to the screen has been nearly as complicated as the singer’s path to the spotlight. Early attempts at a biopic trace back over a decade without progress.
At one point, Gwyneth Paltrow was attached to a version back in 2012 which never materialized. Michelle Williams and Rebecca Hall were also linked to separate projects, but none made it to production.
Similarly, Ronstadt recorded her first album in 1967 but didn’t land her defining country-rock hit “When Will I Be Loved” until 1975. She filled Philadelphia stadiums while struggling to gain acceptance by music critics.
“I was always on the outskirts of rock because I didn’t project that tough, fuck you image,” Ronstadt said.
The long delayed biopic film now cleared for production seems a fitting coda to mirror the star’s own long and winding road.
Ronstadt: From “Trio” to “Canciones” – Continued Exploring Despite Failing Health
Even as Parkinson’s disease brought Ronstadt’s performing career to a premature halt in 2011, she continued finding innovative ways to make music. Unable to tour but still passionate about singing, Ronstadt partnered with Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton in 1999 to record the album Trio II. The three friends harmonized on roots, country and contemporary songs, earning several Grammy nominations.
When even harmonizing became impossible, Ronstadt next partnered with conductor Jorge Calandrelli on the album Canciones de Mi Padre. Revisiting the Mexican standards she loved as a girl but hadn’t publicly performed in years, each song featured Ronstadt’s solo vocal line layered over Calandrelli’s musical arrangements. Duets partnering Ronstadt’s vintage vocal tracks with contemporary singers followed in 2014 after her diagnosis.
While the singer can no longer tour or headline her own show, she continues innovating new ways to share her musical gifts while indefatigably raising awareness of Parkinson’s Disease.
‘I just keep finding different ways to make music,” Ronstadt said.
Fans now eagerly anticipate seeing the latest chapter of that tireless creative journey depicted on screen.
What Comes Next: Biopic Casting and Production Plans
With Gomez now confirmed to play the starring role, focus shifts to casting the supporting characters and creative team to map Ronstadt’s story for the screen. No director, writer or additional cast members are yet attached publicly.
The vocal challenge of singing Ronstadt’s extensive catalog live will be formidable. Gomez has the added challenge of capturing the star’s trajectory from ingenue to icon over several decades. Flashback sequences to Ronstadt’s childhood and early career are also expected.
The film does not yet have an announced release date. But production is expected to begin sometime later this year.
The biopic promises to trace Ronstadt’s Latina heritage, her fierce independence and her frustration with the era’s rampant sexism in the music business. The story offers a compelling perspective on the changing role of women in rock through the first female superstar who cleared the path for those to follow.
For Ronstadt’s millions of fans, the chance to revisit their hero’s inspiring story promises nostalgia and long overdue recognition of this pioneer’s still under-appreciated legacy. For newcomers like Gomez’s young audience, it offers a chance to discover a captivating real-life tale of an outsider who dared to pave her own way.
However the final film ultimately takes shape, all eyes will be on Gomez to capture Ronstadt’s spirit – and signature sound – authentically. Can the young pop sensation convincingly transform herself into an icon of 70’s rock? Linda Ronstadt herself seems to have confidence. And with this long anticipated biopic finally becoming reality, fans will soon find out.
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