Reality Television Star, Singer, Actress, Dancer(1969–)
Early Career Breakthroughs
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 delivered 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, Lopez 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 stars as 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. Combs was acquitted of all charges, and soon confirmed that he and Lopez had separated.
Shortly after that breakup 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 and 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 found time to join forces with her husband in the 2006 biopic El Cantante. In the film, Anthony plays Hector Lavoe, the internationally acclaimed salsa singer, with Lopez alongside him as 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 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 Anthony.
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. Her departure from the show proved short-lived, however, as Lopez returned to American Idol for its 13th season, in 2014.
Lopez also continued to work on her own music, releasing the album A.K.A. in June of 2014. Around this time, Lopez also collaborated with Pitbull and Claudia Leitte on the song “We Are One” for the World Cup, and went on to work on the 2015 thriller The Boy Next Door, with Ryan Guzman.
On the small screen, Lopez joined Ray Liotta on the NBC police drama Shades of Blue, playing 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, but later found its footing. That same year, Lopez served as a judge for the final season of American Idol.
Lopez also was active behind the scenes, playing the role of executive producer. In July 2016, NBC announced that it would be partnering up with her for a dance competition called World of Dance, which offered a $1 million prize for the taking. The show debuted in May 2017, later getting renewed for a second season.