Early Biography: Born to Sing and Dance
Everything about her spells out sexy. Women want to be her, while men fall prey to her loveliness. Jennifer does it without even trying. But that was not the case when she was just starting out in Hollywood. On the contrary, Jennifer tried everything she could in order to be given the chance to entertain people and showcase her talent.
Jennifer Lopez was three years old and her sister Leslie was five when she broke out into a tantrum because her mother won’t let her take dancing lessons like her sister. She was so mad at them for not letting her do something she was certain she was born to do—sing and dance. And as she grew up, her talent in singing and dancing became even more evident until her parents could no longer deny that she’s indeed made for stardom.
Guadalupe Rodriguez and David Lopez were very protective of their middle child. From the onset, they knew that their little girl had a knack for getting what she wants. Despite the kind of interest she had in performing, Guadalupe and David tried their best to keep her off the stage. They wanted her to be realistic. As parents, they felt compelled to have her complete a degree in order to secure a stable job someday.
Born on 24 June 1969, Jennifer Lynn Lopez was preceded by her sister Leslie. Another child was added to their family after Jennifer and they named her Lynda. The head of the family was a hard–working employee at the Guardian Insurance Company. He was later on promoted and was tasked to oversee computer repairs in the same company. The children did not live a difficult life because they were lucky to have responsible parents.
Both Guadalupe and David were from Puerto Rico. Their children were all born in New York. The Lopezes lived a simple yet happy home life. Guadalupe did not work until Jennifer turned ten. She started teaching at a Catholic school when her three girls were old enough not to need someone to constantly look after them.
As a child, Jennifer was particularly interested in entertainment. Her mother had a profound influence in her love for the arts. The West Side Story was their favorite. Jennifer grew up in a home with lots of singing and dancing. Even Guadalupe would sometimes perform in front of her children for fun.
Leslie was five years old when she began taking ballet and flamenco classes. Jennifer wanted to go with her so badly, but as she was only three, her mother did not want her to enroll just yet. A year and a half later and Jennifer kept pestering her mother about attending classes. She relented and allowed her to go. Her first ballet tour happened when she was only five years old.
Since both of her parents worked, their family was soon able to save enough money to move to a much larger home. One thing that the couple instilled in their children is the value of hard work. They saw to it that they practiced what they preached to their children.
Jennifer has been a very pretty girl ever since, but she was a bully. She also did not act like girls her age did. She was boyish but she could be charming if she wanted to. Growing up in the Bronx trained her to be tough so no one dared make fun of her.
She attended Preston High School, the same Catholic school where her mother taught. Sports and the arts were Jennifer’s way of killing time. She competed in track and field for three years and also played softball. Her classmates gravitate to her because of her strong and attractive personality. The reason why she is so toned now at 40 years old is that she also did gymnastics. She did all that on top of singing and dancing.
Jennifer started dating when she was 15. Her first boyfriend was a guy named David Cruz. Two years later, Jennifer heard about Connie Kaiserman’s film auditions. They were looking for someone to play the role of Myra. She bagged the role of the teenager who is doing her time in a center for troubled girls. Her first experience in acting validated her childhood dream of pursuing a career in show business.
Choosing Singing and Dancing Over College
After high school, her parents expected Jennifer to go to college. And she did. While enrolled in Baruch College, Jennifer secured a part–time job in a law office in order to support her plans of attending acting and dancing lessons. She did three things at the same time. She also worked at a jeans store but was eventually fired because she kept dancing around the store aisles.
After a semester at Baruch, Jennifer spoke to her parents about dropping out of school so she could focus on her career. Of course her parents were aghast. They wanted Jennifer to forget about her dreams and just focus on her studies. Because she could not just throw away her ambition, she left their home and rented an apartment in Manhattan.
Gigs here and there helped Jennifer to survive on her own. She was cast in the production of “Jesus Christ, Superstar!” and “Oklahoma.” She later on joined a chorus company named Golden Musicals of Broadway. She went with them on their European tour for five months. She left the company after not being given a solo performance.
The next thing she did was work in Japan. There, she became a choreographer, actress, singer, and dancer. She lived in Japan for four months until the New Kids on the Block announced its need for backup dancers for the 1991 8th Annual American Music Awards. In that production, someone from In Living Color productions noticed her dancing prowess. She was so confident and it was impossible to miss her.
When one of the Fly Girls left the set of In Living Color, Jennifer auditioned as her replacement. There were over 2,000 girls also vying for the position. She ended up as a runner–up. As luck would have it, the one chosen for the part could no longer pursue and so Jennifer got the job. She was still in a relationship with David Lopez that time who was living in Los Angeles. She moved in with him after she got the role.
Jennifer worked hard and still accepted backup dancing jobs. In 1993, she was chosen to be one the backup dancers who would go with Janet Jackson for her world tour. She wanted to accept the job but thought it would delay her in achieving her dreams.
Jennifer Appears in a Direct-to-Video Film
What she did next was unimaginable. She let go of her Fly Girl role and refused the Janet Jackson’s facilitators’ offer. Jennifer felt that if she did not leave, she could kiss her dreams of being an actress and dancer good bye. In order to get bigger roles, she had to go out of her comfort zone and go on auditions. Her next project was “Lost in the Wild,” a direct–to–video film. “Second Chances” was her second project after that. It was a TV series that was axed after only airing six episodes.
By the end of 1994, things are not getting any better for Jennifer’s career. In 1995, she auditioned for the role of the young Maria in Mi Familia, a Gregory Naval film. It was an uncredited role for her, yet she was nominated in the Independent Spirit Awards as Best Supporting Female. It did the trick and she was soon cast in “Money Train” alongside Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes. After that, she played Robin Williams’s teacher in the film, “Jack.” Neither of those two films, however, did well in the box office.
The Latina Artist Marries for the First Time
Instead of getting discouraged, Jennifer stayed and was even more bent on making a future in Hollywood. She and David broke up and she met writer, model, and actor Ojani Noa. Jennifer quickly fell for Ojani, whom she found to be one beautiful man. The first time she saw Ojani, Jennifer jokingly told a friend that she would marry him someday.
But the joke turned out to be more than just half–meant. Ojani and Jennifer got married in November 1997. That year, Jennifer did “Blood and Wine” with veteran actor Jack Nicholson. But it had the same fate as “Jack” and “Money Train.” The only difference was that the critics were impressed by Jennifer’s acting.
Her big break came in another collaboration with her My Family director Gregory Nava. They were filming Selena Quintanilla’s biopic. Selena was a Latina singer who was shot by a fan and was killed, hence the movie tribute. Although she was considered for the role, she still went through a series of auditions along with other Latina aspirants. It must be her earnestness that won the producers over. They gave the role to her and the movie “Selena” made Jennifer a box office actress. The movie also earned Jennifer her first Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy from Golden Globe Awards.
Jennifer Records a Spanish Song
Inspired by her role as Selena, Jennifer recorded a song in Spanish and sent Sony Music Entertainment’s Work Group a demo tape. They liked her rendition but thought singing in Spanish would limit her audience. Jennifer agreed to their terms about singing English songs and gladly signed a contract with them.
In the middle of the year 1997, she starred in “Anaconda.” It became a huge hit. She capped the successful year with an equally successful film with Sean Penn and Billy Bob Thornton—“U Turn.”
But her marriage life was not going so well like her career. Jennifer and Ojani started 1998 with a divorce. In order to cope with the pain of a wrecked marriage, Jennifer focused on her work. In her “Out of Sight” movie with George Clooney, she was said to have received a talent fee amounting to one million dollars. Now, that’s the highest fee ever given a Latina actress in a single movie. In the same year, Jennifer provided the voice for the character of Azteca in the animated film entitled “Antz.”
In spite of her successful acting career, she felt incomplete. Her first love was singing and dancing and unless she did all three of them, she would never feel fulfilled. She took the risk and tested her popularity and singing prowess by releasing her first album. In 1999, “On the 6” was released. The album’s name was inspired by Jennifer’s journey to success as she often rode Train #6 to and fro auditions and tapings. The single “If You Had My Love” was released in May and remained in the Billboard Hot 100 up to September of that year.
The P. Diddy Combs’ Scandal
It was around that time when Jennifer and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs started being spotted together. Everybody was impressed with Jennifer’s curves when she attended the 42nd Grammy Awards in a green Versace ‘Jungle Dress.’ It was the beginning of Jennifer’s iconic dresses and fashion style. Since then, people anticipated what dress Jennifer would sport on special occasions. Before the year ended, though, P. Diddy got into a shooting incident leaving Jennifer shaken. This would create a strain in their relationship which then inevitably led to a break up.
“Cell” hit the theaters in August 2000. Jennifer played the part of Catherine Dean in the movie. Despite the mixed critical reviews, “Cell” earned 104 million dollars. It was clear that Jennifer Lopez had proven her worth as an actress.
In 2001, Jennifer broke the record of being the only woman in history who released an album and a movie in the same week with both being on the number one spot. The movie was “The Wedding Planner” where she acted opposite Matthew McConaughey, while the album was called “J. Lo.” It gave birth to a new identity. Although J. Lo opted to give that name for her album, people soon started to refer to her by that name. “Angel Eyes” was later on released that year, but it failed to generate viewing and only grossed moderately.
Cris Judd and Jennifer Lopez Marry
But again, Jennifer was not affected at all. She was too in–love to bother about “Angel Eyes’” poor performance in theaters. The apple of her eyes that time was her backup dancer, Cris Judd. She personified her single “My Love Don’t Cost A Thing” when she tied the knot with Cris on 29 September 2001.
The following year, on 5 February 2002, Jennifer or J. Lo released the only remix album in history to top the Billboard 200—“J to tha L-O.” Jennifer is now officially a star. Although she felt it strange when people call her J. Lo, she could not complain about the fame and success of her career which enabled her to do the three things she loved the most—dancing , acting, and singing.
For her role in the movie “Enough,” J. Lo learned to do Kray Maga to prepare for the much–talked–about fight scene in the movie. She played the role of Slim, a physically abused wife who ran from her husband with her daughter. During the filming of “Enough,” J. Lo was not getting enough rest and eventually suffered a nervous breakdown. It did not help that rumors of Cris flirting around reached her. Their marriage ended in a painful divorce.
The Divorce that Led to Bennifer
But Ben Affleck made the pain go away. J. Lo met Ben when they did the movie “Gigli.” Way before he started formally courting her, Ben sent J. Lo a bouquet of flowers during the ribbon–cutting event for her newly–opened restaurant, Madres. Like any other men, Ben could not resist her exotic looks and curvaceous bod. It was evident how in–love the two were. They had matching cars and Ben showered J. Lo and her family expensive gifts, such as Rolex watches. There was nothing Ben would not give J. Lo.
He proposed to her in November 2002, the press found out when J. Lo started wearing her 16–carat pink diamond engagement ring from Ben. She was on cloud nine while making her third album, “This Is Me … Then.” She released the album after Ben had proposed to her and also began her perfume line.
Again, the controversies followed her. She faced a lawsuit fort the name of the perfume she just released. To make matters worse, her album did not fare that well compared to her first two. She was able to get back on top of her game when her movie with Ralph Fiennes, “Maid In Manhattan,” turned out to be a box office hit.
Unlike “Maid In Manhattan,” “Gigli” was a disaster not just according to movie critics but also in its dismal earnings. They expected more than seven million dollars of gross from the film, but that was all the film earned. Bennifer’s relationship soon suffered from too much exposure to the press. J. Lo was also not happy about Ben’s gambling.
A month before the wedding took place, Bennifer cancelled the wedding on the grounds of “excessive media attention.” They tried to save their relationship after the cancelled wedding plans. But apparently, the damage in their relationship was beyond repair and in January of the following year, the two broke up for good. During that same year, they did another movie together called “Jersey Girl.” Like “Gigli,” the movie was not successful.
Marc Anthony becomes J. Lo’s Third Husband
J. Lo was not the moping type. After her break up with Ben, she was seen going out with her long–time friend Marc Anthony. Way before they became an item, Marc Anthony had already admitted being attracted to J. Lo when they did a music video together. In June of the year she broke up with Ben, she married Marc Anthony. In October, we would see her teaching Richard Gere ballroom dancing in the movie “Shall We Dance.”
The film was far more successful than the movies she did with Ben. The following year in the month of March, J. Lo released her album, “Rebirth.” The album release was followed by “Monster-in-Law” and “An Unfinished Life.” “Rebirth” and “An Unfinished Life” did not share the same fate as “Monster-in-Law,” which did well in theaters.
Now married to a fellow Hispanic, J. Lo released a Spanish album called “Como Ama una Mujer.” She also tried her hand on TV production, but it did not flourish. Her fragrance line, however, was doing quite well in the market.
In November 2007, J. Lo’s life changed forever. She happily announced her pregnancy to the whole world. Since twin births ran in Marc Anthony’s family, it did not surprise the couple when they found out that they were about to become parents to fraternal twins. She gave birth on 22 February 2008 to a boy they named David Maximilian and a girl they called Emme Maribel.
She became busy taking care of her babies and she momentarily left the big screen and the recording studio. The only thing she did in 2009 was release her single “Fresh Out Of The Oven.” Her businesses and the babies took much of her time. But in 2010, we see a toned Jennifer in the movie “The Back-Up Plan.” She also debuted in American Idol Season 10 replacing former judge, Ellen DeGeneres.
2011’s Most Beautiful Woman
L’Oreal Paris made Jennifer their Global Ambassador in 2011. In that same year, she launched her new perfume Love and Sight, endorsed Venus’ Global as its Ambassador, and released an album entitled “Love?” As if that weren’t enough, Jennifer started a clothing and furniture line, namely Jennifer Lopez Collection and Jennifer Lopez Home Collection. Fiat also commissioned her to endorse their latest car model. As a result, she became the third Most–Searched Musical Artist and the fifth Most–Searched Human overall in the Internet scene. Before the year ended, People Magazine named her the Most Beautiful Woman.
She did one more season as a judge on American Idol in 2012, but announced later on that it would be her last. She did two movies: “What to Expect When You're Expecting” and “Ice Age 4: The Continental Drift” wherein she voiced the character of Shira. She launched Glowing that year, too. J. Lo started getting involved with social work and we see her helping people affected by Hurricane Sandy. Sadly, her marriage to Marc Anthony ended in 2012.
Falling in Love Again on the Dance Floor
Well, J. Lo is clearly not giving up on love, like how she never gave up on her dreams. Casper Smart, her choreographer, keeps her young and happy.
Women want to be J. Lo, but the truth is there could only be one J. Lo—one whose talent and beauty got her far. She still keeps working hard after conquering the world.
Organisations and Campaigns Supported
- American Red Cross
- Artists Against AIDS Worldwide
- Amnesty International
- Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes
- Boys & Girls Club
- Children's Health Fund
- Children's Hospital Los Angeles
- City of Hope
- Dizzy Feet Foundation
- Every Mother Counts
- GRAMMY Foundation
- Love Our Children USA
- March Of Dimes
- Raising Malawi
- Run for Something Better
- The Saban Free Clinic
- The Children's Hospital of Los Angeles
- Lopez Family Foundation
- 1986: Was cast as Myra in the movie “My Little Girl”
- 1991: Selected as back-up dancer for the New Kids on the Block
- 1991: Started as a Fly Girl dancer for “In Living Color”
- 1993: Became one of the back-up dancers of Janet Jackson
- 1993: Became a full–fledged actress in “Lost in the Wild”
- 1995: Was one of the nominees for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female
- 1996: Became the highest paid Latina actress
- 1997: Included in People Magazine’s Fifty Most Beautiful People
- 1998: Cited as the Sexiest Woman of the Year by Details Magazine
- 1999: Released her first album On the 6
- 1999: “If You Had My Love” single remained in the Billboard Hot 100 from May to September
- 2000: Released her second album “J. Lo”
- 2000: Her Versace dress became the 5th Most Iconic Dress of All Time
- 2000: Named Entertainer of the Year by German ShoWoman Awards
- 2001: First person to have a number one album and film in the same week (Album: J. Lo / Movie: The Wedding Planner)
- 2001: Won Best Female Body
- 2001: Included in E!’s list of Top 20 Entertainers
- 2000 and 2001: Won FHM’s World’s Sexiest Woman
- 2002: Released her first remix album which topped Billboard 200 in its debut
- 2002: Launched her fragrance line
- 2002 and 2003: Won the Celebrity Fragrance Star of the Year by FiFi Awards
- 2004: Her album “J to tha L-O” was included in the Guinness World Records as the first number one remix album on the Billboard 200
- 2006: Received Crystal Award for Charity Work
- 2007: Topped People en Español 100 Most Influential Hispanics list
- 2007: Awarded the Artists for Amnesty International
- 2009: Ranked 27th by Billboard on their Artists of the Decade chart
- 2009: Ranked 16th in VH1's 100 Greatest Women in Music
- 2010: Received the Legend Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts by World Music Awards
- 2010: Became one of the judges in American Idol
- 2010: Named Global Ambassador by L'Oreal Paris
- 2011: Named the World's Greatest Comeback Act by LA Times
- 2011: Cited as the World's Most Beautiful Woman by People Magazine
- 2011: Named Global Ambassador by Venus
- 2011: Launched her clothing and accessories line
- 2011: Launched the Jennifer Lopez Home Collection
- 2011: Became the third Most-Searched Musical Artist and 5th Most-Searched Human overall
- 2012: Her single “On the Floor” was the Highest Viewed Female Music Video of All Time
- 2012: Launched Teeology
- 2012: Shared the artist with the most number ones on the chart title with Katy Perry
- 2012: Ranked number one by Forbes in their Celebrity 100 list (Most Powerful Celebrity)
- Most Influential Hispanic Performer in the US
- Named by Us Weekly as 2000's Style Icon
- Nominated Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy in the Golden Globe Awards