Born on July 24, 1969, in the Bronx, New York, Jennifer Lopez danced on the TV show In Living Color before her starring role in the film Selena. She turned to music and found major success on the pop and dance charts with hits like "Get Right" and "Play" while continuing to garner Hollywood film work. She married salsa icon Marc Anthony in 2006 and had twins; the couple split a few years later. Her recent projects include American Idol and Shades of Blue.
Early Career Breakthroughs
Born July 24, 1969, in the Bronx, New York, Lopez began her career as a dancer, appearing in stage musicals and various music videos. In 1990, she won a national competition and earned a spot dancing on the popular Fox comedy television series, "In Living Color," as one of the "Fly Girls." A series of small acting jobs followed, including parts in two more series and a TV movie, Nurses on the Line: The Crash of Flight 7, in 1993. Lopez's first feature film was the critically acclaimed Mi Familia, or My Family, in 1995. She also appeared in Money Train (1995), opposite Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson, and in Jack (1996), directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Robin Williams.
Lopez's first big break came in 1997, when she was chosen to play the title role in Selena, a biopic of the Tejano pop singer Selena Quintillana Perez, who was killed by the founder of the Selena fan club Yolanda Saldivar in 1995. Lopez earned widespread praise for her performance, including a Golden Globe nomination, and became the highest-paid actress in history with her paycheck of $1 million. That same year, Lopez starred in the forgettable Anaconda and in Blood and Wine, opposite Jack Nicholson. Her role as federal marshal Karen Sisco in Steven Soderbergh's Out of Sight, a film based on the Elmore Leonard novel and co-starring George Clooney, further enhanced her image as a bankable movie star.
Lopez's musical career also began to take off, as she released her debut Latin pop album, On the 6 in June 1999. The album, fueled by the success of her hit single, "If You Had My Love," went platinum within two weeks, making Lopez—along with Ricky Martin—one of the most influential examples of the growing Latin cultural influence in pop music.
Early in 2000, Lopez was nominated for Best Dance Performance for her second hit single "Waiting for Tonight," but lost the award to veteran diva Cher. In the summer of 2000, she starred in the science fiction-thriller The Cell, in which she plays a child psychologist helping to track a terrifying serial killer. The same year, she starred in Enough, a portrayal of spousal abuse.
The popularity of the multi-talented Lopez reached new heights in early 2001, when her album, J. Lo debuted at No. 1 on the pop charts, while her film, the romantic comedy The Wedding Planner, shot to the top spot at the box office in its first week of release. In December 2002, she performed another one-two punch with the release of the record This Is Me ... Then and a starring role in the comedy Maid in Manhattan, which was a box office hit, if not a critical one. In 2003, she co-starred with Ben Affleck in the box office bomb, Gigli. Other projects included Jersey Girl (also with Affleck) and An Unfinished Life, in which she played a single mom taken in by her father-in-law played by Robert Redford. She also starred opposite Richard Gere in Shall We Dance?, a remake of the top-grossing Japanese flick.
Personal Life in the Headlines
Lopez was briefly married, in 1997, to Ojani Noa, a model and actor. She then had a lengthy and widely publicized relationship with rapper Sean "Puffy" Combs. In December 1999, Combs and Lopez were allegedly involved in a shooting incident outside a New York City nightclub, in which three people were injured. Combs was later charged with gun possession and bribery, as prosecutors claimed he offered his driver, Wardel Fenderson, $50,000 to say that the loaded gun police found at the scene of the crime was Fenderson's. He was acquitted of all charges, but Combs confirmed in mid-February that he and Lopez had separated.
Shortly after her breakup from Combs was made public, Lopez began dating Cris Judd, a dancer who appeared in the video for her hit single "Love Don't Cost a Thing." After much media speculation, the couple announced their engagement in August 2001. They were married in late September. Nine months later, the couple separated. In the fall of 2002, the star began dating actor Ben Affleck; they announced their engagement in November. Following rumors of the relationship's demise, the couple broke up in early 2004. Lopez subsequently married singer Marc Anthony in June 2004 at a private ceremony at her Los Angeles mansion.
Returning to the big stage, Lopez has found time to join forces with her husband in 2006. She acted along side him in the film El Cantante. In the film, Anthony played Hector Lavoe, the internationally acclaimed salsa singer. True to life, Lopez played Puchi, Lavoe's wife.
In 2007, Lopez released her first Spanish language album, Como Ama una Mujer, which did well on the Latin and pop charts. She found musical success again later that same year with Brave. While the title track has received some attention, Lopez's personal life generated more media interest. Once known for her revealing fashions, Lopez started wearing loose-fitting tops, creating speculation about whether she was pregnant. Many photos of her seemed to show a "baby bump," but the official announcement didn't come until November 7, 2007. Lopez gave birth to twins February 22, 2008. The baby boy and girl were the first children for Lopez and the fourth and fifth for her husband, salsa star Marc Anthony.
In 2010, despite being busy with her family and both music and acting projects, Lopez decided to enter into a new phase in her career: she announced her plans to replace Ellen DeGeneres as the new female judge on the tenth season of American Idol, which had also just welcomed Aerosmith's Steven Tyler as part of its celebrity judge panel.
Lopez returned to the hit reality TV show for its eleventh season, earning a reported $20 million, almost double what she had made when she first signed on. Her career skyrocketed again, however, her personal life was troubled; in July 2011, Lopez and Marc Anthony announced their plans to separate. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Lopez didn't reveal the cause of the breakup, but said, "I loved myself enough to walk away." With a new hit song out, the superstar refused to be deterred. "I am positive, determined to move forward with my life, bring up my babies, and do the best job I can as a mother, entertainer, and person."
Lopez began dating Casper Smart, one of her backup dancers, in 2011. They ended their relationship in 2016. In 2017, People magazine reported that she began dating former baseball star Alex Rodriguez.
In Recent Years
In 2012, Lopez announced that she would be leaving American Idol. "I honestly feel like the time has come that I have to get back to doing the other things that I do, that I put ... on hold because I love Idol so much," Lopez told Ryan Seacrest on his morning radio show KIIS-FM. Her departure from the show proved short-lived, however. Lopez returned to the show for its thirteenth season in 2014.
In addition to her work on American Idol, Lopez continued to work on her own music. She released the album A.K.A. in June of 2014. Around this time, Lopez also worked with Pitbull and Claudia Leitte on the song "We Are One" for the World Cup. She went on to work on the 2015 thriller The Boy Next Door with Ryan Guzman. On the small screen, Lopez co-stars opposite Ray Liotta in the NBC police drama Shades of Blue. She plays a corrupt cop who turns against her fellow officers to save her own neck and protect her daughter. The show debuted in 2016 to mixed reviews. That same year, Lopez served as a judge for the final season of American Idol.
But Lopez has also been active behind the scenes, playing the role as executive producer. In July 2016 NBC announced that it would be partnering up with her for a dance competition called World of Dance (premiere date yet to be announced), which offers a $1 million dollar prize for the taking.
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