THE IDEA began two years ago, but the fascination began two decades before that.
“Every kid has somebody they look up to — their heroes,” says Perla Campos, the global marketing lead for Google Doodles. “Mine were my mom and Selena.”
“Selena,” of course, was Selena Quintanilla, the Grammy-winning icon and beloved “Queen of Tejano Music” who broke barriers while building a legendary pop-culture legacy. On Tuesday, Selena is celebrated with a stirring musical animation Doodle on Google’s home page — on the 28th anniversary of her self-titled studio album debut, and during National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Campos was raised in the small Texas town of Granbury, which was predominantly white, she says. “I grew up knowing from a very early age that I was different from the people around me,” she tells The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs.
“But I distinctly remember watching her on TV,” Campos says of seeing Selena in the ’90s. “It was somebody who looked like me. It was somebody who I could relate to. And I saw [her] achieving goals and doing amazing things and being powerful and embracing the Latina in [herself].”
Campos, who grew up performing at fairs and school and church functions, says that her love of music and her sense of perseverance were sparked by following Selena’s career closely, even after the entertainer’s young career was cut short in 1995.
Selena’s star did not fade in death, with her posthumous music topping the charts — not long after she had won a Grammy for best Mexican American album, for “Live.”
Fast forward to two years ago, and Campos was working for Google in Madrid. That was when she first pitched the idea for a Selena Google Doodle, she says — a dream that only gained momentum after she moved back to the United States.
The Google Doodle team, led by Ryan Germick, worked on a tribute. But Campos persuaded the team to delay the Doodle so she could help them build it out more fully. “I will never know more about any Doodle topic than this right here,” Campos tells The Post.
She worked with such in-house talents as Doodle artist Kevin Laughlin and engineer Jacob Howcroft, as well as with Selena’s own family, including elder sister Suzette Quintanilla, the percussionist in their family band as a child.
Today, as that dream is realized, Campos says it is deeply meaningful on a personal level, but more so because Selena continues to inspire countless fans.
What might Selena herself think of the Doodle?
“She would’ve been overjoyed and proud to know this was happening in her honor,” Suzette Quintanilla tells The Post. “She always would get all giddy when cool things would happen for her.”
And Germick, the Google Doodle leader, praises Campos for helping to make the moving tribute be realized — even as a new Selena collection is added to Google’s online Arts and Culture Exhibit.
“When the passion of our team comes through in our work, wonderful things happen,” Germick says. “It was a joy to see Perla’s vision come to life in this animated doodle.
“Plus, if you’re going to hear a song on repeat in the office for a few months, ‘Bidi Bidi Bom Bom’ is a good way to go.”