When she first read the script for Sec­ond Act, Jen­nifer Lopez could im­me­di­ately re­late to its cen­tral char­ac­ter Maya. The 40-year-old big box store worker is a woman strug­gling with frus­tra­tions from un­ful­filled dreams un­til she gets the chance to prove to Madi­son Av­enue that street smarts are as valu­able as book smarts. It was a role Lopez, an ac­com­plished singer, ac­tor and dancer who started from hum­ble be­gin­nings in the Bronx, couldn’t pass up. Q: What about this movie’s mes­sage ap­pealed to you? A: I just loved the idea of, with ev­ery new day, hav­ing a chance to ac­com­plish what­ever you want to ac­com­plish and the only thing hold­ing you back is you. You just have to de­cide. I love this char­ac­ter. I re­lated to her ob­vi­ously very much. She is from the outer bor­oughs of New York. I grew up in the Bronx. She’s a Queens girl. She doesn’t have the ed­u­ca­tion, but she has tal­ent, drive and, again, the only thing hold­ing her back was her. Once she kind of finds her way in, she starts to re­alise all of the mis­takes she made and the po­ten­tial she has. The mis­takes she made were not that bad and the po­ten­tial is greater and she starts think­ing about her life in a dif­fer­ent way. Q: How much of what we see on screen be­tween you and Leah Rem­ini is scripted? A: (Laughs) We have been friends for a long time. It was funny, a lot of things hap­pened that were im­prov. Two of my favourite mo­ments were things we talked about. It was as sim­ple as there’s a scene we do in the kitchen and she un­but­toned her pants be­tween scenes. I said ‘You should do that in the scene?’ She said ‘What?’ I said ‘You should un­but­ton your pants in the scene’. She was like ‘Re­ally?’ I said ‘Yeah’. She said ‘OK’ so she un­but­toned it and it was one of the big­gest laughs in the movie. Then when we did our slap­ping scene and she said ‘Let’s do our who’s the champ thing’. I was like ‘OK, let’s do it’. She said ‘Let’s see where it goes’. They were two of my favourite things in the movie with her. Q: This movie con­trasts tra­di­tional ed­u­ca­tion versus the ed­u­ca­tion you pick up from the street. How im­por­tant is it for you to in­spire oth­ers? A: I think it is re­ally im­por­tant. Peo­ple need to know there is not just one way to a path to suc­cess. There are many, many dif­fer­ent routes. That’s why I love this movie be­cause I grew up in the Bronx and didn’t have much of an ed­u­ca­tion. I didn’t go to col­lege. Even with dance, I had no way into the busi­ness. I didn’t know any­body who was in show busi­ness or knew some­body who was in show busi­ness or had been to Hol­ly­wood. There was just no en­try point, but you have to find your own way. It can be done. I think you just have to work hard. Hope­fully you have some tal­ent and work your ass off. The se­cret to my suc­cess, I feel, is I work harder than any­one else. I don’t stop. Q: Your love in­ter­est is played by Milo Ven­timiglia. Were you a fan of his TV se­ries This Is Us? A: I haven’t watched it lately but that’s one of the rea­sons. I was such a huge fan of This Is Us in its first sea­son or two. When I read the first fin­ished draft of this script I said this char­ac­ter has to be Milo. It has to be Milo. I can’t see any­one else do­ing it. He has that ev­ery good neigh­bour­hood guy type of feel. I thought he would fit in our New York world re­ally well be­cause that was im­por­tant. I didn’t want some­one who wasn’t from New York or didn’t have that feel­ing. I felt like he re­ally had that feel­ing. Sec­ond Act opens on Thurs­day.

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