Jennifer Lopez is a woman of many talents, but if there’s one that absolutely stands out, it’s her ability to reinvent herself. J-Lo has done it time and time again, rebranding from dancer to actress to singer. She has taken on projects in production, fashion, fragrance, and more as she continues to follow her heart and unleash her passion on whatever target she sets her mind to.
J-Lo’s determination and multitasking ability has remained constant her whole life, but it began back in the Bronx in New York City. Lopez was raised by her Puerto Rico-born parents alongside her two sisters in a musically-rich household. As a child, she enjoyed music her mom would play around the house, including salsa, R&B, hip-hop, and more. She was also deeply in love with the film industry, citing West Side Story as a major influence of hers. Ever since she was a young girl, she dreamed of being in the spotlight, whether that was dancing, singing, acting, or all three!
“[Growing up], I was creating my own style. Everybody would look at me, like I was a nerd, ‘What is she doing? What is she wearing?’ Because people didn’t do that in my neighborhood… If people see you striving for things, it threatens them. My [ex] boyfriend would say, ‘Jennifer has bigger plans.’”
Her very first well-known role was as one of the dancing “Fly Girls” on In Living Color, a ‘90s comedy show involving sketches by the Wayans brothers. She danced on the show between 1991 and 1993, and then continued to land small parts in TV movies and TV shows. She had started her career as an extremely talented dancer, but as her star slowly continued to rise, she took on more promising roles like 1995’s Money Train alongside Wesley Snipes, and Jack (1996) with Robin Williams. In 1997, J-Lo finally got her big break when she was cast as Selena Quintanilla in Selena, a movie that depicted the Texas-born Tejano singer and her rise to fame. The movie was a huge success, and it even landed Lopez her first Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical. The world had witnessed her acting skills, and now there was no turning back.
After the momentous success of Selena, Lopez starred in 1998’s Out of Sight, a movie about a bank robber who breaks out of jail and shares a romance with a U.S. Marshal. The movie also starred George Clooney and was nominated for two Oscar Awards.
In 1999, Lopez decided to spice up her career again by diving headfirst into the music industry. In June of that year, her first album, On the 6, dropped. With a mix of Latin influences, pop, and R&B, the album did well. It was praised by critics and sold a total of three million copies in the U.S. Many songs from the album became very popular, solidifying Lopez’s name in the music world and pop culture. “If You Had My Love” peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and “Waiting for Tonight” peaked at #8. These are still some of J-Lo’s most famous songs and two of the most loved of the ‘90s era.
With the emergence of On the 6, J-Lo joined a list of famous Hispanic artists that are credited with starting the “Latin Boom.” Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias, and J-Lo all began to make pop songs at the same time, putting Hispanic artists in the spotlight. They dominated the Billboard charts that year, and that’s only a slice of the influence J-Lo has had.
In 2000, a year after her first album was released, J-Lo showed up to the 42nd Grammy Awards alongside then-boyfriend Sean Combs, a.k.a. P. Diddy. She was wearing a green silk chiffon Versace dress that exposed her cleavage and stomach. The dress was instantly the center of media attention as people stared in awe at its risqué look. In fact, the dress was so obsessed over that it gave birth to the creation of Google Images. People were searching up J-Lo’s iconic dress on Google at a rapid pace, forcing the Google Image search to be designed.
J-Lo’s dating life was and still is highly publicized, and has made for tons of pop culture moments in the past. Her relationship with Ben Affleck popularized couple names, with the world deeming them “Bennifer.” And her relationships with the aforementioned Sean Combs, Marc Anthony, Casper Smart, and others were also widely watched. Now, her most recent beau and fiancé, former Yankees player, Alex Rodriguez, finally seems to be the one for her. “We just complement each other,” Lopez gushed, “He’s super supportive. He allows me to be who I am…We have four stellar kids, [and] it’s not an easy thing, but somehow it works really well. There’s just a lot of love there.”
So what else is Lopez working on now besides her mixed family and new love? Well, she hasn’t come all this way just to slow down. From 2016-2018, she was in the NBC TV series, Shades of Blue, that she also produced! She led the production with her very own production company, Nuyorican Productions, and also starred as the main role: A New York police officer and mother who is forced to work in the FBI’s anti-corruption task force. The show ran for a successful three seasons.
Her Nuyorican Productions company is also behind the popular competitive dance show World of Dance on NBC, where she is one of the judges. Other judges include singer Ne-Yo and professional dancer Derek Hough. It started running in 2017 and has produced three seasons, with a fourth slated for 2020.
“[The show] reminds me of when I started out and that innocence that you have of the possibilities of everything that can happen to you and your dreams coming true, working hard, struggling…” Lopez expresses.
Her latest movie was the 2018 comedy/romance Second Act, where she played a big box store worker that reinvents her life after she fails to score a job promotion. The movie mirrored Lopez’s life in many ways, making it a special project for her to latch on to. It was her first movie since 2015’s Lila & Eve. She had taken time off of the big screen to instead focus on the aforementioned TV shows World of Dance and Shades of Blue. In between working on the shows, she also began to slowly get back into music. Her last album, A.K.A., came out in 2014, and although she hasn’t announced another, she’s been putting out singles and featuring in other artists’ songs. In 2016, she dropped “Aint’ Your Mama,” and in 2018 she released a Spanish song, “El Anillo,” and a Spanglish song, “Dinero,” featuring Cardi B and DJ Khaled. That same year she also put out two more tracks: “Us,” and “Te Guste,” featuring Bad Bunny. This past April she worked with rapper French Montana on the upbeat dance track, “Medicine.” The song quickly hit #1 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart, which makes this her 17th single to achieve the feat.
Some fans are speculating that due to all of these new tracks, she may be announcing an album soon! Only time will tell…For now, J-Lo seems to be having fun testing out her talents in all kinds of different areas. This month on the 13th, her new movie Hustlers will debut, featuring stars Cardi B, Constance Wu, Keke Palmer, Julia Stiles, and rapper Lizzo. The movie follows a crew of strippers in New York City, who join forces to scam their Wall Street clients. She’s also set to play Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco in The Godmother, and will be producing it along with Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Benny Medina, and Julia Yorn. Talk about staying busy! Another venture for the triple threat this year is a skin care line. Lopez has announced that sometime this year she will be creating a skin care line that will allow women to look as ageless as she does. Keep an eye out for those new products that will be hitting stores soon!
J-Lo has celebrated a lot this year. On June 1st, she recognized her first album’s 20-year anniversary. On the 6, which came out in 1999, had set the stage for Lopez’s career—forever making her an icon. On July 24th, she celebrated her 50th birthday here in Miami Beach. The forever-young-looking-queen considers Miami her second home and has done lots for the community in the past. The City of Miami Beach declared July 24th “Jennifer Lopez Day” and handed her a key to the city. “This is obviously a tremendous honor,” Lopez said, “It’s so overwhelming to be at this point in my life and to have recognitions like this. I just always wanted to do my best.” Right after her birthday celebration, from July 25th to the 27th, she took to the stage at the American Airlines Arena for her Miami shows on her It’s My Party Tour.
This year has been a whirlwind of celebrations, achievements, and much-anticipated projects for J-Lo, but she has managed to stay clear-headed and on top. It’s safe to say that she has reached a point in her life where her achievements are able to speak for themselves, and she has everything together in every aspect of her life.
“…right now in my life, I feel like my personal life and my career are in sync, and I think that’s because I’m in a good place. It took me a long time to find that balance, to find that self-love, to find that thing that makes you feel complete. And I think we’re finally there,” Lopez said.
At 50, this living legend has certainly left her mark. And she will only continue to do so!
By Selene Rivera