Coming face to face with J.Lo in the flesh, it’s hard to resist the urge to
sit back and have a good old gawp.
Here she is. Two hours later than scheduled (of course), a vision of
other-worldliness, a woman so blimmin’ beautiful she looks like she should
be an exhibit behind a pane of glass in a museum.
There’s not a single wrinkle on her flawless face, her skin is glossy, glowy
and magnificent as she sits in the swank of LA’s Four Seasons hotel,
surrounded by her favourite fresh white lilies and Jo Malone candles.
Everything about her shrieks extravagance – her buffed bare legs are so
super-shiny she could probably gaze at her own perfect reflection in them.
She’s the wrong side of 40 and a mother to three-year-old twins, but
seriously, wow. Jennifer Lopez is surely in the best shape of her life. “I
think who you are and how you’re feeling inside always show on the outside.
And I would say I’m in the best place I’ve ever been,” she says.
“I feel really great, really happy. My family, my husband and my babies have
everything to do with that. And work is great right now – everything is
It certainly seems that way. After three years out of the spotlight – save her
2010 critically panned romcom The Back-Up Plan – 41-year-old Bronx-born
Jennifer is experiencing something of a renaissance.
A new record deal with Def Jam has seen a return to form with uptempo single
On The Floor (which samples the 1989 classic Lambada) from her eagerly
anticipated seventh studio album. And her job as a judge on American Idol
has revived a flagging career that, until recently, was in danger of
“This is a new beginning in a way, an adjustment period,” she says. “After
having the babies I took it easy for a while, just trying to be there for
them and bond with them.
“For the first time in a long time, I’m getting back into working the way I
used to. It’s so much more intense because I have the babies at home and I
want them to be OK. Every working mom knows this – it’s a juggling and
balancing act that you have to figure out for yourself.
“But I don’t feel that I have anything to prove to anyone, not at all.”
Well that much is definitely true. By her own high standards Jennifer’s last
album, Brave, way back in 2007, bombed. It was her lowest-selling record
ever worldwide, reaching a lowly number 24 in the UK and failing to scrape
into the top 10 in the States.
All a far cry from when Ms Lopez first sashayed her way on to the
international music stage 12 years ago with multi-platinum albums and hit
singles, such as If You Had My Love and Love Don’t Cost A Thing.
The subsequent split with Epic, the record label that had nurtured her career
from day one, prompted industry whispers that it might be game over for
J.Lo. Perhaps the world had grown tired of Lopez the prima donna.
Maybe her insistence that she was still little old Jenny From The Block no
longer washed next to reports of demands for 10 dressing rooms redecorated
in white lace and silk for a 2001 appearance at the Top Of The Pops Awards.
Or perhaps news that her rider for the 2010 World Music Awards included a
helicopter on standby, an on-call masseuse and an entire Monaco hotel floor
to herself was all rather crass and yawnsome.
“I’ve only recently realised,” Jennifer says now, “that people didn’t see me
as a normal person or how things affect and touch me in my everyday life. I
was never aware that no one really knew who I was.”
Taking the job of judge on Idol alongside fellow newbie Aerosmith’s Steven
Tyler and old hand Randy Jackson, following the departures of Simon Cowell
and Ellen DeGeneres, proved a masterstroke.
Viewers have watched an often tearful Jennifer become genuinely immersed in
the hopes and dreams of the wannabes. They’ve seen a softer, more sensitive
side, one that doesn’t quite reconcile with the notoriously difficult diva
reputation that has gone before her. She has changed misconceptions and
become America’s sweetheart all over again. Voila: the Cheryl Cole effect.
“Ah, someone mentioned her to me yesterday,” says Jennifer, looking a little
“She’s a singer, right? I don’t know too much about her, I don’t know her
music. But I’d be happy to learn about it!”
She giggles, then reflects on the impact the show has had on her popularity.
“I think American Idol is helping to show people the real me for the first
time. It’s funny because I always knew that person was there – it’s just
that no one else did!
“I guess I was always a character, either with a script in a movie or
performing a song on the stage, and people never saw the human side of me.
Now viewers can see that I’m emotional and passionate and human,” she says.
“It’s not something I considered when I first took the gig – it never even
entered my mind this would happen. But it’s true and it’s nice. I’m glad
With an empire worth a reported £150million, Jennifer need never work again.
She doesn’t have to stick around for the criticism, some of which must have
stung, no matter how thick she claims her skin is.
Did she consider jacking it all in after becoming a mother to Max and Emme?
Did the rough and tumble of life in the public eye become less appealing
with children in tow?
Of course it did, she says. “It was very tempting to give it up. There was
just something about being at home and being happy. But I don’t really think
quitting is part of my chemical make up! The truth is that at my core is a
very creative, productive person, and being happy as an individual helps you
to be a great mother to your kids.”
Very candidly, Jennifer admits she’s finally realised that having it all is
probably impossible and undoubtedly so when it comes to being the best at
everything. The ruthless ambition still burns, only not quite as brightly as
before. Singer, actress, model, entrepreneur, wife, mother: something has to
“This is me, doing many things all at once, but I’ve accepted that not
everything is going to be absolutely perfect all the time. That’s not life.”
J.Lo grew up in the tough Castle Hill neighbourhood in The Bronx, New York,
the daughter of Puerto Rican couple Guadalupe and David. After leaving
school, she worked in Manhattan nightclubs as a dancer, landing a series of
gigs starring in various music videos.
She got her big break when she was hired as one of Janet Jackson’s backing
dancers, appearing in the 1993 video for That’s The Way Love Goes, which led
to bit-parts in films and eventually the lead role in acclaimed biopic
Selena in 1997.
She’s effortlessly glam today, a proper Park Avenue princess, dripping in
H.Stern jewels, her low-cut blue-and-white Reem Acra dress clinging to every
curve, but Lopez knows what it’s like to come from humble beginnings.
It’s her background that makes her and husband Marc Anthony determined that
Max and Emme won’t grow up to be Beverly Hills brats.
“I think when you’re not from LA, there is a worry your kids will grow up like
“I come from The Bronx and Marc from East Harlem.
So we had a very different upbringing from what our kids are experiencing. But
at the heart of it, we’re doing things in a very similar way to how we grew
up. We’re carrying on our family traditions. Hopefully that will keep Max
and Emme grounded.
“We’ve always got family around, we have a lot of meals and time
together. Marc and I treat our kids the way our parents treated us. It’s
just the house is a little bigger!”
An American publicist, twitchy that the Fabulous interview is in danger of
overrunning (it’s not) tries to cut proceedings short and warns sternly that
this must be the last question.
“Oh, let’s do a couple more,” says Jennifer, overruling the PR. “Go ahead.”
Triumph! When you’ve got J.Lo fighting your corner, you can’t go far wrong.
It gives us a chance to ask about her marriage to singer Marc, 41 (5, below).
The pair celebrate their seventh wedding anniversary this June, having
weathered more than the odd marital storm. Theirs is a solid relationship
based on years of friendship, but marriage, says Jennifer, isn’t easy. And
she should know, having been there, done that with husbands number one and
two – waiter Ojani Noa, 36 (1), and dancer Cris Judd, 41 (3).
Other romances also foundered. Her high-profile two-and-a-half-year
relationship with rapper Sean ‘P Diddy’ Combs, 41 (2), caused controversy
when the pair were caught up in a gun fight outside a nightclub in 1999.
And, of course, Ben Affleck, 38 (4), was due to become a Lopez husband until
he killed off Bennifer just hours before they were to wed in 2003.
“You do have to work at it,” says Jennifer, sincerely. “We spend so much time
working on work, so why not at home? You really have to do exactly the same
with the most important things in your life as well. It’s hard.”
Does she mean she and Marc have couples’ therapy? “Noooo!” she scoffs, before
bursting into giggles. “Oh, that’s so funny! No, we keep the passion alive
in the old-fashioned way. We work at it and we talk to each other.”
Things are so strong, the couple is even talking about another baby. But
Jennifer denies recent reports that she’s looking into adoption.“No, no.
That’s not true,” she says. “I would like to have another baby myself,
actually. If it happens I’ll be thrilled. But we’re not trying.”
The baby talk turns inevitably to Victoria Beckham, a good friend, who’s
pregnant with her fourth child – a much longed-for baby girl.
“I haven’t seen Victoria for a while – I’ve been super-busy and so has she.
But I heard she’s having a girl and I’m very excited! I know that’s
something she wanted so I’m thrilled for her and Dave.”
Dave? Yes, she just called Becks Dave. And not in a Trigger from Only Fools
And Horses way. Interesting… now we know what the A-listers call
Anyway, back to Jennifer. So what is next for La Lopez? More movies, she
reckons. “I was just saying to my husband last night: ‘I’m so ready! I’m so
ready to bite into a role! So hard!’ And he was like: ‘I know, I can feel
“But I want to wait for the right one to come along. I know this is what I’m
supposed to be doing. I’m just so happy to be working full-time again.”
She eases back on to the sumptuous sofa in her luxurious hotel suite with its
vases of blooms and expensive scented candles. Life is pretty sweet on
“But I still pinch myself,” she says. “I can’t believe what’s happened to me.
Every single moment of every single day.”
- J.Lo’s album Love? is available to download today and in shops tomorrow. The
single On The Floor is out next month.
All hail the comeback queens
Five stars we heart once more…
1 Victoria Beckham, 36 It was love during the Posh ’90s and all cheers
when she pulled David. Yet suddenly, VB stopped doing it for us. During the
Rebecca Loos incident in 2003, the public even blamed Victoria. But then she
moved to LA, became a fashion designer and poked fun of herself on Ugly
Betty. Smitten again.
2 Britney Spears, 29 For years, pigtailed Britters could do no wrong.
Then in 2006 the public rounded on her for nearly dropping her son. She
totally lost it in 2007, attacking a car with an umbrella, and was
sectioned. Now, with an older boyfriend, Jason Trawick, 39, at her side,
Brit’s bounced back, unveiling a sizzling bod and hot new album, Femme
3 Julia Roberts, 43 In 2000, Julia was the highest-earning female
actress ever, worth £87million. In 2001 she won an Oscar for Erin
Brockovich. But then in 2004 she took a break to be with new twins Hazel and
Finn, now six, and Henry, three. Last year, Julia slid to number six on the
earning list. Was her reign over? Nah. She came back with top chick flick
Eat, Pray, Love.
4 Dannii Minogue, 39 We had a girl crush on Dannii as Home And Away’s
tearaway Emma Jackson. Cue a brief pop career and Dannii vanished. “Nobody
wanted me,” says Dannii. “The only time I saw my name in print was: ‘Hey
isn’t Kylie fabulous? And isn’t Dannii tragic?’” Then in 2007 she landed The
X Factor and even rivalled Cheryl in the popularity stakes.
5 Sandra Bullock, 46 Sandy was everywhere in the ’90s, from Speed to
Practical Magic. But come the Noughties, casting directors stopped
speed-dialling her and she starred in some bombs – The Lake House,
Premonition and All About Steve. Then, she was cast in 2009’s The Blind
Side. Zoom! Sandy shot to the top of the best-paid actress list and bagged a
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