LOPEZ SHOWS ROOTS
ACTOR GETS BACK TO WHERE SHE CAME FROM AND TAKES A NEW PATH
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.