Also Credited As:Jennifer Lynn Lopez, J Lo
|Actor, Producer, Writer, Music|
|Jennifer Lynn Lopez on July 24, 1969 in Bronx, New York, USA|
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Born on July 24, 1969 in Bronx, NY, Lopez was raised in a strict Catholic household by her father, David, a computer specialist, and her mother, Guadalupe, a music teacher. At the age of four, the focused Lopez set her sights on becoming a singer and dancer. Eventually, she began taking dance lessons at the local Bronx Boys and Girls club, then began appearing as a dancer in stage musicals. Lopez continued her training and performing at Preston High School, from which she graduated in 1986. After dipping her t into acting with a minor, but noticeable film debut in "My Little Girl" (1986), Lopez began dancing professionally in clubs, before landing spots on the European tour of "Golden Musicals of Broadway" and in the chorus behind famed Tony Award-winning actor and dancer Hinton Battle during his Japanese tour of "Synchronicity." But Lopez had her real show business break when she was picked out of 2,000 other aspirants by then-choreographer Rosie Perez to be a "Fly Girl" dancer on the first season of the hit variety show, "In Living Color" (Fox, 1990-94). During her run, she also landed a gig as a backup dancer for Janet Jackson, even appearing in the singer's video for "That's the Way Love Goes."
After two years, Lopez elected to branch out into acting and soon left the show. Though television roles came quickly, most of the projects she appeared in proved to be unsuccessful. She made her television movie debut as a nurse among crash victims trying to survive in the dense Mexican jungle in the true-life drama, "Nurses on the Line: The Crash of Flight 7" (CBS, 1993). She went on to portray Melinda Lopez, a Latina maiden under the watchful eye of her father (Pepe Serna), in the short-lived ensemble drama, "Second Chances" (1993-94), then reprised the same role for the spin-off, "Hotel Malibu" (CBS, 1994), an equally unsuccessful revamp centered around Lopez's character. She had a recurring role in "South Central" (Fox, 1994), playing the co-worker of a single mom (Tina Lifford) who raises her three children in the rough-and-tumble South Central neighborhood of Los Angeles. Still trying to make it in television, Lopez even served as co-host on "Growing Up Roses" (CBS, 1994), a variety special that recapped the previous year's Tournament of Roses Parade.
Since television proved too small a medium for her talents and charisma - not to mention her hypnotic good looks - Lopez made the inevitable transition to the big screen and finally got her acting career on track. In her first significant role, Lopez ably portrayed the youthful version of the matriarch of a Mexican-American family - a woman who survived illegal deportation and near-drowning to return to her husband (Jacob Vargas) in Los Angeles - in Gregory Nava's "Mi Familia" (1995). Making the jump to bigger studio fare, she co-starred in "Money Train" (1995), playing a New York subway cop who becomes the romantic wedge between two foster brothers (Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson) planning to rob the train carrying the day's subway earnings. Though the movie was a critical and financial bust, Lopez managed to be one of the few bright spots in an otherwise disappointing effort. The following year, she appeared in Francis Ford Coppola's "Jack" (1996), playing the sympathetic fifth grade teacher to a 10-year-old (Robin Williams) whose aging process has drastically accelerated.
Though Lopez was making more of a career out of film, she had yet to land that one key role that would propel her to the next level. That changed when she was cast in the title role of "Selena" (1997), the moving biopic about the beloved Tejano singer, Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, a Grammy Award-winning artist who was gunned down by her embezzling fan club president (Lupe Ontiveros). Selena's influential life and tragic death made for a truly compelling film, and the actress' vibrant, intuitive portrayal set her apart from her peers and readied her for stardom, especially after earning her first Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. Following strong reviews for her turn as an illegal Cuban immigrant and mistress to a wine merchant-turned-jewel thief (Jack Nicholson) in the noir thriller "Blood and Wine" (1997). In Oliver Stone's "U-Turn" (1997), Lopez delivered a solid turn as the femme-fatale wife of a ruthless businessman (Nick Nolte) who secretly wants her dead and tries to convince a two-bit criminal (Sean Penn) with car trouble into doing the job.
Lopez solidified her leading lady status when she starred in Steven Soderbergh's subtly steamy action thriller "Out of Sight" (1998). Displaying a winning sense of humor that added a down-to-earth charm to her undeniable sultriness, she gave one of her best performances, playing a federal marshal on the hunt for a convict (George Clooney) with whom she shared an intimate trunk ride during his daring escape. Despite having to arrest him, she finds herself strangely and unavoidably attracted, leading to a secret tryst at a high-rise hotel that resulted in one of the sexier scenes to grace the screen in some time. In fact, critics and audiences praised the chemistry on display between Lopez and Clooney, which was palpably effortless and real. Winning rave reviews for her performance, Lopez was well on her way to superstardom, which she amplified by releasing her debut album, a decidedly New York-flavored dance record called On the 6 (1999), named after the subway line that ran from her Bronx home to Manhattan. While the singles "If You Had My Love" and "Waiting For Tonight" tore up the charts and pumped out of nightclub speakers, she starred in "The Cell" (2000), an odd and ultimately lackluster sci-fi thriller that depicted Lopez as a scientist who delves into the twisted mind of a serial killer (Vincent D'Onofrio) in order to find a recently kidnapped girl.
Prior to "The Cell" being released, Lopez began making news for her life off the screen - namely her romantic entanglements. After her first marriage to former struggling model Ojani Noa lasted less than a year, she spent two and a half years with hip hop mogul Sean "Puffy" Combs, with at least half that time spent denying their relationship to the press. It was on his arm at the 2000 Grammy Awards, that Lopez would debut the most talked about dress in the world - a daring, sheer Versace cut to her navel, leaving little to the imagination. It was the combination of this savvy fashion pick, her omnipresent music and her edgy romance with the rapper-turned-impresario that created a perfect storm of stardom for Lopez, who relished in her new status as the most talked about woman in the world. In December 1999, however, her personal life took a hit when the couple went to a New York nightclub and gunfire erupted between a member of Combs' entourage and people inside the club. Three shots were fired, resulting in three injured, after which Lopez, Combs and two others from their group fled in an SUV. Police eventually pulled the vehicle over and found a stolen 9mm in their possession. All were arrested, including Lopez, who was detained by police for 14 hours of interrogation. No charges against Lopez were filed, though Combs was indicted on two counts of possession for illegal firearms. The rapper was eventually acquitted of the charges, but by then the damage to their relationship was irreparable, leading to their split in 2001.
Back on screen, Lopez tried her hand at a light and fluffy romantic comedy with "The Wedding Planner" (2001), playing a successful, ambitious and forever single wedding coordinator who falls for the groom (Matthew McConaughey) who is marrying one of her clients (Bridget Wilson-Sampras). In the film, Lopez showed a surprising talent for the sillier side of things, and convincingly ditched her glamorous image for one of a frazzled workaholic prone to pratfalls and other embarrassing mishaps. Audiences flocked to the feel-good comedy, making it number one at the box office despite a deluge of negative critical reviews. While "The Wedding Planner" was topping the box office, Lopez released her second album, J.Lo, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. Maintaining her high profile, Lopez starred as a policewoman who falls for an enigmatic do-gooder with a tragic past (Jim Caviezel) in the romantic thriller "Angel Eyes"(2001). Despite a promising premise, the film failed to woo critics and audiences. The following year, Lopez starred in Michael Apted's much derided thriller "Enough" (2002), in which she played an abused woman who realizes that the only way to escape her abusive husband (Billy Campbell) is to physically train in order to kill him.
Many critics scoffed at "Enough," leading to a wan performance at the box office. But Lopez - who also released the poorly reviewed, but popular album This is Me... (2002) with its ubiquitous single "Jenny from the Block" - remained one of the most talked about performers at the time, remaining a perennial fixture on magazine covers and entertainment news shows. Her status as Hollywood's "It" girl went into overdrive following her 2002 engagement to actor Ben Affleck, which was consummated with matching Bentleys and a six-carat pink diamond worth $1.2 million. The engagement came just months after Lopez announced her separation from her second husband, backup dancer Chris Judd, whom she had met while filming the music video for her single "Love Don't Cost a Thing. The couple had married in September 2001. When her relationship with Affleck became public in June 2002, Lopez and Judd filed for divorce, which was finalized in January 2003. Meanwhile, Lopez had one of her biggest box office hits with another mild romantic comedy, "Maid in Manhattan" (2002), in which she played a housekeeper at a high class New York hotel who falls for a handsome politician (Ralph Fiennes). Once again, the movie was panned by critics, though audiences came out in droves.
Lopez's public profile reached critical mass with the release of "Gigli" (2003), the mob-based action-comedy on which she first met Affleck. After months of media hype surrounding the "Bennifer" relationship "Gigli" was extensively reshot to accommodate public perceptions, though the original intention for Lopez's character being a lesbian remained intact. But the film was hammered with bad buzz for months before its release and received a critical drubbing when it finally hit theaters, resulting in an "Ishtar"-like bomb. Lopez continued her existence inside the eye of a media storm when she and Affleck called off their wedding just hours before the ceremony in September 2003, following press scuttlebutt about Affleck's stripper club carousing in the week before their nuptials, which led some to believe a permanent split was inevitable. Their separation became reality in early 2004 and was followed by press reports that Lopez sought solace with Latin singing sensation and old friend, Marc Anthony. Meanwhile, Kevin Smith, who had directed Affleck and Lopez in his middling romantic comedy, "Jersey Girl" (2004), was forced to downplay Lopez's involvement in the project after casting his buddy Affleck's then girlfriend in the film at the actor's suggestion. Though Lopez was only in the first few reels, many like Smith, said they believed her involvement had doomed the project once the public soured on the overexposed "Bennifer." The final shocker came five months after the Lopez-Affleck split when she suddenly married the newly divorced Anthony in a private and unpublicized ceremony that solidified her offscreen reputation as the Elizabeth Taylor of her generation.
In the midst of her busy celebrity life, Lopez continued making films. She was paired opposite Richard Gere as an icy dance instructor who rediscovers her passions as she teaches him how to move across the floor in the romance "Shall We Dance?" (2004); a role that finally made use of her prowess as a dancer. In 2005, Lopez - who asked the media to drop the "J. Lo" moniker - made headlines with her live duet with her husband at the 47th annual Grammy Awards, namely because their over-the-top, melodramatic performance of the song "Escapémonos" was snickered at by critics who mocked Lopez's ability to keep up with her husband's vocal prowess. Meanwhile, she demonstrated her continual entrepreneurial spirit with a new fragrance launch, the debut of her Sweetface clothing line - which prompted protests from animal activists like PETA because of its use of fur - and a new album, Rebirth, which returned Lopez to club-style dance beats, though it launched to initially disappointing sales. She then starred in the comedy "Monster-In-Law" (2005), playing a sweet-natured temp who finds the man of her dreams (Michael Vartan), only to be menaced by his meddling, over-protective mother (Jane Fonda in her first film role in 15 years) who hopes to drive her away. Candy-sweet on the outside at first, Lopez eventually reveals the inner steel that made her more than a match for the movie icon. Despite the hype of pitting Lopez against a resurgent Fonda, "Monster-In-Law" ultimately suffered a disappointing critical reception en route to pleasing box office numbers. Her next film, Lasse Halstrom's "An Unfinished Life" (2005), gave Lopez the opportunity to receive good notices for her role as a widowed mother in an abusive relationship who seeks shelter with her estranged father-in-law (Robert Redford).
Turning to television, she developed and executive produced the series "South Beach" (UPN, 2006), a short-lived ensemble drama about three young adults whose dreams and aspirations lead them to Miami. In 2007, she released her first full Spanish-language album, Como Ama Una Mujer, which reached No. 10 on the Billboard 200 and topped the Top Latin Albums list four weeks running, leading to Lopez winning an American Music Award for Favorite Latin Artist that same year. She next starred opposite her husband in the little-seen biopic on salsa singer Héctor Lav (Anthony) in "El Cantante" (2007), then announced on the last night of the joint Lopez-Anthony "Juntos en Concierto" tour that the couple was expecting a child, ending months of speculation. On Feb. 22, 2008, Lopez gave birth to fraternal twins, who were then featured on the cover of People magazine a few weeks later for a hefty sum. After lying relatively low for two years, Lopez returned to the big screen with the romantic dud, "The Back-Up Plan" (2010) before joining the judges' table of the struggling "American Idol" (Fox, 2002- ) behemoth. Her rumored selection was officially confirmed in September 2010, along with that of fellow singer, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, who joined the judges' panel, as well. By all accounts, her first season was a complete success, with Lopez providing the humanity and maternal consolation for the brutalized contestants, much like the departed Paula Abdul had done in seasons past. With her career enjoying a resurgence, it was a shock to the public when Lopez and Anthony announced in July 2011 that after seven years of marriage, they were splitting up.
Despite the personal setback, her career on stage and screen had never been better. While soaking up praise for her judging duties on "Idol," Lopez reignited her music career by releasing the hit dance single, "On the Floor," as featured on her new album, Love? (2011), which debuted No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart. The following year, she returned to films by voicing Shira the saber-toothed cat in the animated "Ice Age: Continental Drift" (2012), only to stumble with critics and audiences as the lead of the ensemble romantic comedy "What to Expect When You're Expecting" (2012). As she continued to stay busy, adding executive producer duties for both reality and dramatic series in development, Lopez began hinting in public that her days on "Idol" were drawing to a close. Some believed that her hints were a negotiating tactic to increase her salary - she earned a whopping $20 million from the show alone in 2012 - but when co-judge Steven Tyler announced his departure in July 2012 in order to focus on his band, speculation about her breaking similar news was rampant. True enough, Lopez made her own announcement the very next day, citing her desire to go back to music and movies on a more regular basis.