By: Julie Ane
It’s a new JLo-ration! Dancer, actress, singer, record producer, television personality and producer, fashion designer… Jennifer Lopez epitomizes today’s superwoman. According to Forbes, she is the richest person of Latina descent in Hollywood. That is an uphill climb for any woman, never mind a Puerto Rican girl from The Bronx.
Born in the middle class neighborhood of Castle Hill, Jennifer was one of three girls born to Guadalupe, a school teacher, and David, a computer specialist. After graduating from all-girls Preston High School, she set her sights on being a performer, working to support her dance classes and auditioning for dance roles. Her big break came before the eyes of actress/choreographer Rosie Perez, the Latina who brought Hip Hop dance with Nuyorican sass to the Hollywood forefront.
After auditioning twice amongst thousands of would-be starlets, Lopez was chosen for the coveted role as a “Fly Girl” for Keenan Ivory Wayans’ hit variety show In Living Color.
Jennifer looked all the part of the Nuyorican: dark curly hair, thick eyebrows, big hips and ruby lips and a Latina body to match. Fitted jeans, crop tops and Doc Martens were all the rage. Lopez stood out as a Fly Girl from the very beginning, with the confidence and attitude that New Yorkers seem to exude innately.
She was also the thickest of the group, but that didn’t stop the form-fitting outfits that accentuated her assets. In the ever so thin world of entertainment, Lopez successfully opened new doors wide enough for her big booty to sway through and a trail of opportunity to follow.
Jennifer remained with the hit variety show from 1991 until the series ended in 1993, and moved onto her next gig that same year. From one Fly Girl to another, Jennifer became a back-up dancer for Janet Jackson, appearing in Jackson’s video for hit single, “That’s the Way Love Goes.”
Though it was a bit part, it wasn’t long before she was starring in her own videos – but the big screen came calling first.
After nabbing some bit parts in movies and a role on the television show South Central, Lopez got a break when she landed a co-starring role alongside Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson in the action thriller Money Train.
In 1997 she opened the eyes of film critics and fans alike with her endearing performance in the biographical film Selena. Though Chicano audiences did not approve of a Puerto Rican actress playing the Mexican-American singer, Lopez did the part justice and Hispanics in Hollywood proud, as she received an ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress.
She followed with roles in Blood and Wine with Jack Nicholson, Ananconda and UTurn in 1997, and Out of Sight with George Clooney in 1998. This opened many new doors for Jennifer as a bankable actress that the movie industry would bet on time and again.
Her fashion sense still very much reflected her Latin heritage, although it lacked the polish of her Hollywood peers. She’d tightened up those eyebrows, but she was still sporting curly hair and dark lips, and her form-fitting dresses fell short in sophistication and star quality. Of course ‘Jenny from the Block’ was just keeping it real, but she was definitely on her way to a haute transformation.
With a nice acting resumé building, Lopez decided to put Hollywood and dancing on hold to record her own music, and on June 1, 1999, she released her debut album On the 6. The album reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s charts, and garnered the number one lead single “If You Had My Love.”
The video showed off a new JLo - several pounds lighter with long, highlighted golden brown tresses. No more ruby lips! The makeup was now soft and sexy with a peachy pout, and the booty was no longer her biggest asset.
Lopez was blossoming into something more than average, though many critics dubbed her just that – average. Regardless, she was determined to show that she was much more. Her late ’90s flow was street flavored chic with midriff tops, form fitting bottoms and stylish stilettos, mixing modern and urban fashion flair with ease.
In her video for “Waiting for Tonight,” the third single from On the 6, Jennifer glowed and sparkled with minimal make-up and breezy hair.
Jennifer’s personal life also came into public view after a brief marriage to Ojani Noa, followed by a two-and-a-half year relationship with hip hop mogul Sean “Puffy” Combs. Though both Combs and Lopez were young stars still on the rise, their relationship seemed to have a celebrity all its own. There was the arrest in December 1999 at Club New York, where gunfire erupted between club patrons and the Combs/Lopez entourage. And then there was “the dress.”
The year 2000 was a huge beginning in the next stage of life of Lopez. In February, Jennifer attended the Grammy Awards with Puffy, wearing a silk chiffon green print Versace dress that made headlines for weeks. In that one appearance, La Lopez solidified herself as a fashionista who was bold, daring and not afraid to take chances.
It seemed from that moment on, she became the “it” girl when it came to the red carpet, and everyone kept close watch on everything JLo put on her famous backside. Though Jennifer’s body was far from the runway model type, high fashion designer houses were beating down her door with their absolute best pieces in hand. She wore them well.
Appearance after appearance, Jennifer wore haute couture as if it were made exclusively for her, which gave the average woman the green light to wear them as well. In between all of this she found time to work on her next movie project, the cinematic visual wonder The Cell with Vince Vaughn, which was released in August 2000.
In September of that same year, Jennifer showed up with Puffy at the MTV Video Music Awards donning all white in a midriff top, fitted pants and a crystal bandana.
It was quite the extreme from the Versace dress she had worn that same year, but nevertheless showed just how easy she could still pull out her flashy BX style on a whim. She also won Best Dance Video for her hit single “Waiting for Tonight.”
Shortly after on Valentines Day 2001, Puffy and Jennifer announced their break up, but Jennifer seemed way too busy to mourn the loss. This former Fly Girl was now the toast of the town, and tirelessly building a career.
In January 2001, Lopez starred with Matthew McConaughey in The Wedding Planner and released her second album JLo, which sold over eight million copies worldwide.
In March 2001, Lopez dazzled the 73rd Annual Academy Awards in a chignon and Chanel couture, but it was her mink lashes that made headlines. The trendsetter had every star clamoring for the $500 pair of falsies and PETA livid for her audacity!
In May, her second movie release for the year Angel Eyes hit the box office. At this particular time, her fashion sense showcased versatility as she took the stage with amazing body-baring looks, but did the red carpet in high fashion Hollywood glamour.
The powers that be recognized that Jennifer had an eye for fashion and great style, so it wasn’t a big surprise when in April 2001 she announced her partnership with Andy Hilfiger to launch a clothing line, which eventually debuted in 2003 as JLo by Jennifer Lopez.
In September of 2001, Jennifer married for the second time to dancer Chris Judd. Though the marriage lasted a mere nine months, Lopez again had little time to notice. In February 2002, she released J to tha Lo!: The Remixes, which debuted at number one on The Billboard 200.
In April 2002, Lopez opened Madres, a restaurant in Pasadena, California, specializing in Cuban cuisine and managed by first husband Ojani Noa. Though the two had remained friends since their divorce, Jennifer later had problems in 2004 with Noa’s intent to release a book about their past relationship. Lopez took the case to court (2007), which ruled to put the kibosh on the book’s impending release.
The new millenium was full of ups and downs already, but Lopez got the chance to release a bit when she de-glammed for a moment to rock tomboyish hair and makeup for the 2002 thriller Enough, which hit theaters in May. While it wasn’t well-received by critics, JLo’s fans embraced her tough performance as a battered mother who finally fights back. Her final fight scene was pretty incredible!
Just about the time she was divorcing Judd, Lopez quietly started the beginnings of a new relationship with Ben Affleck whom she met while filming Gigli. She launched her first fragrance Glow by JLo and released her third album This is Me…Then, which reached number two on the Billboard 200.
To close out 2002, her 14th movie Maid in Manhattan with Ralph Fiennes was released in December.
By this time, Jennifer Lopez had established herself on so many levels. She may not have been romantically linked with Puffy any longer, but she was certainly taking on his knack for establishing a brand. She was also still very much the public’s darling, much to the chagrin of more publicity-shy Affleck, so much so that the relationship had a name of its own: Bennifer.
Through it all she continued to look the part of the glamorous celebrity, with exotic up-dos and sexy designer duds, and the exquisite $1.2 million dollar pink diamond engagement ring from Affleck that set new jewelry trends for women across the country.
They announced their engagement in November 2002, and called off the wedding hours before the event on September 14, 2003.
Despite the ups and downs in her personal life, Lopez was celebrating with the strong debut of her JLo clothing line, which consisted of midriff tops, fitted pants, jeans and accessories with some Puerto Rican pride thrown in for good measure. The jeans and pants were a big hit in the urban market, simply because of their cut for ladies with small waists and ample room for curvy hips. She also added ‘Still‘ to her growing fragrance line.
After the very public break up with Affleck, Jennifer quietly started dating Marc Anthony - someone she had known for most of her career – and on June 5, 2004, they married with very little fanfare. She had definitely learned some very hard lessons about putting relationships in the public eye.
Professionally speaking, they were ok with being watched, as they performed together at the 2005 Grammys.
All the while, Jennifer had continued to work on both movies and music. She starred in Shall We Dance? with the debonair Richard Gere in 2004, and with renowned actress Jane Fonda in the commercially successful Monster-in-Law in ’05.
Ever keeping her hand in the music game, she dropped her fourth studio album Rebirth in March 2005, which spawned the number one single “Get Right.” Marc Anthony’s daughter played her little sister in the video.
JLo continued to make bold style choices, even if she occasionally got some flack from fashion police. Her mini-dress and matching headpiece at the 2006 VMA’s had the critics asking if she’d just had a bad hair day…
Moving forward, Jennifer released the Spanish-language album Como Ama una Mujer in March 2007, which was co-produced by her husband Marc Anthony. She followed that up six months later with her sixth studio album Brave, and hit charts with the singles overseas. Meanwhile, her JLo clothing line was revamped and rebranded as Sweetface.
That year, Forbes named her #9 in their 20 richest woman in entertainment report, as she was valued at approximately $110 million.
As she celebrated her own success over the years, Lopez was always giving back when she could. She found a way to mesh philanthropy and entertainment with her 2007 movie Bordertown, which she produced and starred in. The movie opened eyes to the horrible murders of women in Juarez, Mexico, and earned Jennifer an award from Artists for Amnesty International.
On February 22, 2008, Jennifer and Marc welcomed twins Emme and Max, and ever the businesswoman, Jennifer introduced them to the world via People Magazine at the price tag of $6 million dollars.
By late 2009, Jennifer had shut down her clothing line and her restaurant, and was focusing on new ventures. She tried to drop the infamous JLo moniker in an attempt to rebrand herself with an alter ego named “Lola.” She developed a website, WhoIsLola.com, to introduce her new single with Pitbull entitled “Fresh Out the Oven.”
She also loosed the single “Louboutins” after coming out of Lola’s closet in late 2009. She had twins, and still looked like this…
The campaign failed to reach the successful alter-ego status of Beyonce and Sasha Fierce or Garth Brooks and Chris Gaines, though the record company claimed “Lola” was for one song only, and was never even intended for an album.
Though being a mother took priority, Lopez still managed quite the to-do list in entertainment. She even got the opportunity to bring the kids to work in a stylish, breezy ad for Gucci in 2010.
She starred in movies like The Back Up Plan, and added more sitcom work to her repertoire with an appearance on How I Met Your Mother in 2010. It has been rumored for over a year that she was slated guest-star on an episode of Glee as well.
While her future in the apparel biz is uncertain, Lopez maintains a very successful line of fragrances. In Fall 2010, she launched the Love and Romance scent with a campaign that captured elegant vintage Hollywood glam.
Take a look at Jennifer now, and you will see that her style has matured and progressed. Her appearance at the 2011 Golden Globes was nothing short of stunning, as she donned a white crystal-encrusted Zuhair Murad gown topped off with $5 million dollars worth of Harry Winston diamonds.
She also continues producing projects with her film and production company, Nuyorican Productions. And of course, her latest endeavor is as a judge on American Idol for the 2011 season.
Just over two months into 2011, Jennifer has appeared in L’Oreal Paris’s Feria Color and Infallible makeup campaigns along with Milla Jovavich, as well as a new campaign for Venus razors.
She also debuted her latest single “On The Floor” featuring Pitbull on American Idol on March 3. She’s everywhere!
No more ’round the way girl’ here, but no matter! At 41-years-old, Jennifer Lopez looks amazing, confident, sexy and ever-so-glamorous like the superwoman she is. The only thing missing is the cape!