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For the Love of Lopez

by Andrew C. Stone | Jezebel magazine | July 5, 2011

Jennifer Lopez has long been a triple threat: a platinum-hit-crooning Fly Girl thespian, if you will. Following a few years of child-rearing and creative simmering, she has beaten the Hollywood odds by rebounding brilliantly into the collective consciousness. Her stint as an American Idol judge gave viewers a glimpse of her sweet and unscripted side, while her seventh studio album, LOVE?, is reestablishing her as a pop powerhouse.

Meanwhile, dazzling red-carpet turns and Louis Vuitton campaigns have been tempered by endeavors like her eponymous clothing line for Kohl’s, endorsements for Gillette’s Venus razor, and her new fragrance, Love and Light (sold on HSN). Perhaps this newfound approachability stems from having twins—3-year-olds
Max and Emme—with husband Marc Anthony or from confidently owning her destiny as she enters her 40s. Either way, Lopez is more gorgeous than ever and singing at the top of her game.

“There have been so many things going on!” Lopez says. “Everything has been picking back up again after I had the babies and had been focusing on the behind-the-scenes work. I’d been working on the record for a couple of years, just staying on that path, and deciding when and how to release it.” The time for LOVE? is now. “I had the chance to work on my music the way I used to,” she enthuses. “I put my energies into what I do in a concentrated way, with my partner Benny [Medina], and, all of a sudden, it took off.”

After 20-plus years in the entertainment biz, Lopez has a new perspective on love… one she’s eager to share. “I’ve observed things in my own life—not to mention everything my girlfriends, sisters and cousins have gone through, even my male friends,” she says. “I wanted to explore, ‘What is the state of love of this moment
in time?’ That may sound deep for a pop album, but I want my music to really make you think, grow and feel.”

Her entire career—from dancing as a Fly Girl on In Living Color through the early recordings and acting days (Selena, Out of Sight) to the present day—has been shaped by a come-what-may attitude and a healthy helping of instinct. “I never knew what was next and just had faith in what was coming,” she recalls. “Take
right now… I want to tour and enjoy having the album out. But there are other things I’m considering. Maybe I’ll do a movie, and then the touring will wait a while.”

In fact, Lopez’s star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame is set to arrive this year. JLo—she of the plunging green Versace dress and famous posterior—admits she’s grown a lot since first mesmerizing the public. “When you start out in this business, it’s all exciting, but you don’t necessarily know yourself yet,” she says. “Once you realize you have this outlet, you begin to understand: My job as an artist is to make great music and put something out that’s true to me. I’m a person just like every other human being, and it has to be good. It can’t be something untruthful, no matter what it is… an album, a film or anything.”

It’s this perspective that made her a natural fit for season 10 of American Idol—deemed by many to be the show’s best. “I’m very happy to have done it,” says Lopez, who has not confirmed whether or not she will return, yet who has signed on to seek the next great Latin music star on the forthcoming reality show Que Viva. “[Idol] was a great, emotional ride for me. The show was so big… bigger than I ever realized when I signed up!” Viewers loved the Lopez they saw on TV: supportive, honest and wise, a far cry from the “diva” label imposed on her in the past. “It gave people a chance to know the real me, instead of guessing what I’m like,” she says.

Lopez had no star-studded panel to help hone her talent back when she was dancing in the Bronx. She just felt the drive to perform and chased her dream. “If you really want to be a performer, it’s in you, naturally,” she declares. “When I started as a dancer, I was totally balls to the wall… but I wasn’t the best. When I started
recording, I had to really work on the confidence in my singing voice. For me, even to this day—be it acting, singing or dancing—I always have to work and stay confident. I understand what the journey is. It’s about knowing where you’re blessed.”

Ask her today what her biggest blessing is, and it’s a no brainer: Max and Emme. “Once you have babies, they become the focus of your life, and you just spend all your waking hours making sure they’re all right,” she says. “It kinda clears everything up for you. They always bring it down to, ‘Aren’t I just the luckiest person in
the world?’ I can be getting makeup done for the fifth time in a day and hear them laughing in the next room, and it just makes me smile with my eyes closed.”

Regardless of which Lopez we, her fans, love—the hot mama, fierce pop star, kindhearted mentor or glamorous entrepreneur—our love is for real.

A Penny for Jenny’s Thoughts

On her adorable kids:
“Both of my kids are so
amazing. They’ve been
talking for a while. My
daughter will hear grownups
say something and
have to repeat it exactly
the same way.”

On her favorite tunes:
“The best songs will have
something you grab onto
by the second or third time
you listen to them. That’s
the kind of music that I’ve
always loved.”

On collaborating:
“I get really picky about who I
record with. Most artists are. I
feel like those choices have to
be believable. Sometimes it’s
pure inspiration; I’ll be listening
to an album and think, ‘This is
exactly the right person.’ Occasionally
the label will come
and say, ‘We think somebody
should be on this with you,’ and
I’ll be like, ‘Well… OK… ’ But, in
the end, everyone has to have
the same philosophy and feel.”

On making a star:
“When I see people with talent
but the showmanship side isn’t
there, I try to help them there.
When I see people with all this
confidence but who need to
work on their technique, I try to
help them there.”