Jennifer Lopez hustles her way to the top
Hustlers is inspired by real-life events and follows a crew of savvy strip club employees who turn the tables on their Wall Street clients. Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu and Keke Palmer tell GEORGIA HUMPHREYS about their empowering roles in the hotly antic
JENNIFER LOPEZ is famed for her dancing talents. But while the New York-born actress, who turned 50 this year, still has enviable fitness levels, she wasn’t prepared for how difficult learning to pole dance would be for her latest movie, Hustlers.
“I am athletic, and I work out and I dance, but it was more athletic and more acrobatic than anything I had ever done,” admits the star, who’s also a successful singer, fashion designer and businesswoman.
“Dealing with this pole, which doesn’t move, and trying to fly and dance around it really proved to be hard!”
There’s a lot of buzz around Hustlers, a sassy, thrilling femaleled comedy drama. It’s based on real-life events, following an article by Jessica Pressler which was printed in New York Magazine and went viral, and tells the story of a group of savvy strip club employees who cook up an inventive scheme to rob wealthy Wall Street bankers.
Jennifer, who also serves as producer on the film, plays Ramona, a character inspired by ex-stripper Samantha Barbash, who Jessica interviewed for her piece.
She may have worked as a dancer on American comedy sketch series In Living Colour before pursuing her acting career, but Jennifer admits she was “super nervous” ahead of filming the pole dancing scenes.
“It’s like, ‘OK go up there and do your pole routine’,” she quips, when recalling the vulnerability she felt performing on a stage in a club in front of 300 extras.
“It’s like, ‘Oh my god, take off your clothes and wear a thong’.”
But it was “really stimulating to think of playing a character like Ramona, who was so multi layered”.
“She was tough and fierce and ambitious and strong,” says the mum-of-two (she has 11-year-old twins Emme and Max with her ex-husband, singer Marc Anthony).
“But, at the same time, she was loving and nurturing.”
She agrees another appeal of the project was how different it is to roles she’s had before.
“It’s so funny, with my tour this year and this movie coming out... People are so ready to write women off at a certain age, right?” she retorts.
“But I just feel like my best years are ahead of me, and the more I learn and the more I live and the more I’m open to growing, the better my work gets.”
The cast of Hustlers boasts some great names – Constance Wu, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart and singers Cardi B and Lizzo.
Constance – famous for last year’s hit rom-com Crazy Rich Asians – plays Destiny, a young woman struggling to make ends meet.
Destiny’s life is changed forever when she meets Ramona, who gives her a crash course in various poses and pole moves.
The two women end up making lots of money from the Wall Street clientele that frequent the club – but then the September 2008 economic collapse happens.
That’s when they decide to turn the tables, along with their colleagues Mercedes (Keke) and Annabelle (Lili).
The cast is also notably diverse, in terms of both ethnicity and women’s body shapes.
Constance, 37, acknowledges the film makes several important points.
Jennifer Lopez at the Hustlers premiere during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival
Keke Palmer, Cardi B, Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, and Lili Reinhart at a photo call for Hustlers