Jorge Ramirez-Martinez’s connection to Selena dates back to a Spanish class at Stagg High School where his teacher incorporated her music in lesson plans. Now, he’s helping write the story of her life for a Netflix series. “To come full circle with Selena, it was just…wow. You never know what way life’s gonna go,” he shares.
In those days, Jorge was constantly dreaming about making it big in Hollywood. However, when it was time to decide where to go to college, he found himself firmly planted in his hometown, attending school on the same street where he grew up: University of the Pacific. “I ended up getting a full-ride to UOP, so that was a no-brainer,” he explains.
While Pacific was closer to home than he’d originally planned to be in college, Jorge threw himself into his studies and created a roadmap to achieve his Hollywood dreams. He triple majored in English, Spanish, and film studies — a decision that worried his academic advisor. “When they doubt you, it’s fuel for the fire,” Jorge says. “I love proving people wrong.” Ultimately, his commitment paid off, earning him a spot at USC’s prestigious graduate film school.
Upon graduating from USC, Jorge planned to take a traditional route to break into the film and TV industry: getting a job as an assistant and working his way up to producing. When he became increasingly frustrated as executives pushed him to work on shows with stereotypical depictions of Mexican American culture, he took a job at a tech company. While the job was outside of his dream industry, its flexibility allowed him to dedicate his down-time to learning the craft of writing.
Now, as a writer on Selena: The Series, Jorge is flipping the narrative and presenting a layered depiction of Mexican American characters. “You have a Mexican American family who are not laborers, not farm workers, not immigrants, not gang bangers,” Jorge explains. “They’re hard-working. They’re tight-knit and driven and achieving the American dream.”
Of course, he was also drawn to Selena as a character because he saw himself in her: “She had this duality to her that I have too, of being Mexican and American, and sometimes not being enough for either side. Also, she’s always planning, always dreaming, and being wide-eyed about her projects. That’s how I am too.”
So, what’s Jorge dreaming up and planning next? His next project is bringing him back to his 209 roots. “I just finished a legal pilot, and the main character comes back to her hometown, which is Stockton, and she tries her first case,” he shares. “Stockton is always showing up in my writing.”