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”

WHO - - Love And Life - By El­iz­a­beth Leonard

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.

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