J.LO ON TOP
The superstar opens up about her new movie, ‘Second Act’, raising 10-yearold twins, finding love and blending families with A-rod: “Alex and the kids are my everything”
As a little girl, Jennifer Lopez would sit quietly in church every Sunday and get lost in daydreams. Her mind raced with questions about her future: Would she marry? What would her kids look like? And, in time, how could she sing, dance and act her way to a life far from her insular Bronx neighbourhood? “I see myself sitting there even at [age] 5 or 6, and all the way through high school, with this feeling that something amazing was going to happen,” says Lopez, relaxing in front of a cosy fire in the Bel-air mansion she shares with boyfriend, baseball star Alex Rodriguez. “I had a very happy childhood, [ but] I was a dreamer. I was a fantasiser. I really felt the world was much bigger than what I was in.”
Just how big was beyond even her imagining. In the three decades since Lopez ditched a desk job at a law firm and dropped out of Baruch College to pursue a show business career, she’s become a superstar. At 49, the radiant singer-actress-dancerproducer-reality TV judge now juggles a half-billion-dollar business empire and raising Emme and Max, her 10-year-old twins with ex-husband Marc Anthony [the two split in 2011]. What’s more, Lopez, who stars in the new comedy Second Act, is enjoying a second act of her own, with A-rod, 43. “We love each other and we love our life together,” she says of their two-year romance. “The exciting part of our love is that we’re both very aware how lucky we are to have found each other.”
Not so long ago, Lopez wondered if she’d find that kind of happiness. In addition to Anthony, Lopez had two short-lived marriages, with Ojani Noa and actorchoreographer Cris Judd, which ended in 1998 and 2002. (Her on-again off-again romance with dancer-actor Casper Smart, which began in late 2011,
“I don’t have a tainted view of love, no matter what I’ve been through” —Jennifer Lopez
ultimately fared no better.) “I knew there was something going on that I did not understand,” says Lopez, who became committed to figuring out why she seemed to repeat unhealthy patterns with men. “I was done blaming other people – he did this or he did that – and I said to myself, ‘no it’s you’.”
Facing her fears in the wake of her third divorce, which was finalised in 2014, wasn’t easy. “I grew up sharing a bed with my sisters from the time I was born, [and then] it was one boyfriend, and then another, and then a husband … and I realised ‘you’ve never been alone’,” says Lopez, who recalls being stumped at the time when a therapist asked her what she liked to do. “I didn’t even understand his
question. I go, ‘I don’t know … work?’ I didn’t even have an opinion of what I did on my time off. It was, ‘I usually do whatever so-and-so [ guy] wanted to do.’ I had to learn about myself … and realise I didn’t have to feel scared that I was going to be alone. Until I could really learn to be happy on my own and love myself, these relationships were never going to work out, no matter what. That was a big turning point for me.”
Over time, and after going through what she metaphorically calls “the dark forest,” Lopez emerged a more empowered and enlightened woman. She credits Emme and Max for ultimately teaching her about true love. Just by being their mother, she gleaned that “love was supposed to feel a certain way – just natural [with] a very selfless, unconditional pure quality,” says Lopez, who also learned not to beat herself up over “the messy parts of who I am or the mistakes that I’ve made.”
With a renewed sense of self and her priorities straight, Lopez met A-rod, now a TV commentator and sports analyst, in early 2017. She was smitten but took things slowly. “It wasn’t until I met Alex that I felt like OK, I can be in a relationship [again], but even though it seemed wonderful, I was cautious,” she says of her early dates with the MLB star, who is also a divorced parent to daughters Natasha, 14, and Ella, 10.
“You’re looking at things for what they really are instead of letting yourself get swept off into a romantic notion or fantasy … It was a different type of mature love, and we’re both at a point where we’ve done a lot of work on ourselves, and we said we’re going to do this in a healthy way.”
Introducing their kids was an important step that the couple approached carefully. To their delight, the families clicked. “Kids are so beautiful and open to love and new friends,” says Lopez. “I was so loving to his kids and he was so loving and accepting of mine, and they embraced each other right away. [It was] ‘I get a new bonus brother and sisters to hang out with all the time, and it’s nice.’” Adds Rodriguez: “Our kids have become best friends and that keeps us both grounded and appreciative. We couldn’t have asked for anything better than the four of them getting along as they do.”
Neither feels immense pressure to get engaged. “Of course, it’s something we think about,” says Lopez, who recently dropped a new single, “Limitless”, which is on the Second Act soundtrack. “We think about getting married, but it will happen naturally when and if it’s supposed to.”
She’s learned she doesn’t need a man to be happy, but her current relationship is mutually rewarding. “Her best quality is undoubtedly her generosity,” says A-rod. “I see it every day, and my kids see it as well.” For Lopez, it’s a whole new kind of love. “Everything feels healthy and different,” she says. “We bring something to each other’s lives that is profound, good and healthy.” For now, that’s enough. “I’ve never felt so creatively charged, fulfilled, able to conquer whatever I want to,” says the star. “But again, it all starts with you. You gotta be right.”
SINGER & DANCER Her All I Have Las Vegas residency topped $142 million in ticket sales. BEAUTY MOGUL One of the most celebrated faces of her generation, Lopez debuted a limitededition makeup collection for Inglot Cosmetics in early 2018.
TV PRODUCER & REALITY JUDGE After five seasons as a panellist on American Idol, Lopez returned to reality TV in 2017 with World of Dance.