Fol & Behold

American Idol may have wrapped but Jennifer Lopez is on a new high – with a starring role in a TV series and a $35-million Vegas gig

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

American Idol may have wrapped but Jennifer Lopez is on a new high – with a starring role in a TV series and a $35-million Vegas gig

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Still stunningly beautiful and fitter than ever, Jennifer Lopez continues to make her mark as one of the most popular female entertainers in show business. Although she made her final appearance as a judge on American Idol (the popular TV talent show completed its 15th and final season last April), Jennifer wasn’t going to sit back and rest on her laurels. Proof of her work ethic, she was already splitting her time between Idol duties and performing in her 20-show initial stint in Las Vegas, which started in January. It’s part of a two-year, $35.7-million (US$26 million) contract with Planet Hollywood that will see her give nearly 100 performances.

TV audiences would also have started to see the star in the new crime drama Shades of Blue (available on Diva Universal), her first regular series role in 20 years. Jennifer plays Detective Harlee Santos, a tough New York City cop and single mum, working undercover for the FBI. Following the lead of many film actors who are trying their hand at edgier TV fare, she’s anxious to show the public a tougher, grittier side of herself.

“This is one of the busiest times in my life,” the 46-year-old says. “But I’ve always been someone who likes to work hard. I make sure I have enough time to look after my kids and I have enough support to allow me to get involved in all these projects.”

Jennifer developed the series herself as a producer but never imagined herself actually playing the role until the NBC network executives prevailed upon her.
Although she’s been married and divorced three times, Jennifer still seems to believe in love. She’s back again with on-off boyfriend, Casper Smart, who’s 17 years her junior. But her true loves are her twins Emme and Max, aged eight, from her marriage to singer Marc Anthony. She reveals, “Having Max and Emme has changed my life in every way. They have made me stronger, more responsible, and also more generous and caring… I really felt the growth of myself as a human being, as a person [becoming a mother].”
In an exclusive interview, Jennifer opens up about her insecurities, painful divorce from Marc, and how she’s juggling work and motherhood.

Did it surprise you to be starring in your own TV cop series?

“I hadn’t planned on it. But this character always meant a lot to me and it wasn’t hard for me to get into the role. I love her inner strength and coming from the Bronx it is a way of getting back to my roots and reinhabiting that world.”

Did you worry about what the effect of working on a TV series and all your other performing gigs might have on your home life with your kids?

“My kids are used to me working a lot. They know I’m busy and we’re like a team. If I’ve been working a lot, they actually try to make sure that they don’t wake me up in the morning. They’re amazingly supportive and I always try to stay with them as much as possible and they are usually with me wherever I’m working. When I’m filming all day, I would speak to them on the phone (via Facetime) and I would try to get back home to put them to bed although that’s tough when you’re doing a series. But they know I’m always there for them.”

You’re also performing an extended series of shows in Las Vegas. How do you feel about that?

“I’m very excited about it. We’re going to have some fantastic dance numbers

 "I needed to love myself before I could really feel open and free in my own life" 

and it’s going to be a really high-energy show – sort of like a Bronx-style block party. I want people who come to the shows to feel totally caught up in the mood and really be able to let loose. I want these shows to be very special and spectacular… and I also want to create an intimate experience for audiences.”

How did you feel about American Idol coming to an end?

“I was very melancholic about it. It changed how I felt about the way I could connect with audiences because I was forced to open up and stop worrying about how I would be perceived. Being on American Idol made me much more confident about myself and it just allowed myself to be me and be willing to show the real me.”

Why were you insecure about yourself?

“It took me time to develop the kind of confidence and self-assurance that comes from truly believing in yourself. After my divorce (in 2011), I went through a lot of self-questioning and soul-searching. I needed to go through that kind of process where I learnt I needed to love myself before I could really feel truly open and free in my own life. I feel much happier and good about so many things now in a way that I was never able to feel before.”

Does performing still give you a thrill?

“I love acting, singing and connecting with people. Having the chance to express myself and be creative is the most wonderful feeling.”

Did you always dream of this kind of successful, glamorous life?

“As a child, I always set big goals for myself. My parents taught me that hard work is the basis of everything – that if I worked hard enough I would one day get the chance to succeed. I’ve always stayed true to that philosophy.” W

 How Lo Can You Go…

J. Lo’s “moment” arrived when she stepped out in that naval-baring Versace dress in 2000. Since then, she’s been far from shy on the red carpet – as these photos show

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2000 Who could ever forget that Versace gown from the 2000 Grammys? It’s become a moment in red carpet fashion history.

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2008 Stunning in Marchesa, she says, “Goddess is one part inner beauty, one part outer beauty, and one part five-inch heels.”

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2011 Jenn shined like an emerald in this figure-hugging dress with strategic cutouts, designed by Peter Dundas for Emilio Pucci.

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2011 Jenn appeared at the American Music Awards in all her curvy glory in this Zuhair Murad dress. A tight bun was the perfect complement.

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2012 This Armani Privé gown was a scene stealer for the Oscar presenter. Its plunging neckline proved dangerous – Jenn had a nip slip on stage!

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2016 The star shows just how to do high impact in this yellow Giambattista Valli gown – paired with 200 karats of Harry Winston diamonds, of course!