Mario Sorrenti exclusively for W
Jennifer Lopez is still Jenny From the Block, but there was a time she didn't have a place to live on that block!
In a candid interview in W magazine's August issue, the 43-year-old singer opened up about her younger years and how a falling out with her mother left her homeless in the Bronx.
"My mom and I butted heads," she said. "I didn't want to go to college—I wanted to try dance full-time. So she and I had a break. I started sleeping on the sofa in the dance studio. I was homeless, but I told her, ‘This is what I have to do.'"
Lopez was 18 at the time, and studying dance at the Ballet Hispanico and at the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club. But it didn't take her too long to land her first gig.
"A few months later, I landed a job dancing in Europe," she said. "When I got back, I booked In Living Color. I became a Fly Girl and moved to L.A. It all happened in a year."
When J.Lo did find herself working on the West Coast, though, she realized how much she missed the Bronx. "I hated L.A.," she said. "I was asking, ‘Where's the store for milk? Don't you guys walk on the street?' Now I love Los Angeles, but it doesn't give me strength the way the Bronx did. All the strength that I needed for life, I got from that neighborhood."
And while her 5-year-old twins, Max and Emme, aren't growing up in the same neighborhood as their famous mom, she does her best to instill the same values in them that she grew up with.
"I think a lot about teaching my kids to work hard," Lopez said. "I've learned something about kids—they don't do what you say; they do what you do. I watched my parents. My dad worked nights, and I was aware of how much he was doing for us. My mom was a Tupperware lady and also worked at the school. I always felt that I couldn't let them down. And I had a natural discipline from early on. I was always training for something."
And that work ethic has never left her. "I've always had dreams—the dreams have just gotten bigger. Benny [Medina, her longtime manager] and I will get together and plan what we want to do for the next six months, the next year," she said. "He knows I love gypsy life—I love to go. Holidays always seem very long to me. After two weeks off, I start saying, ‘Let's get back to work.' And I've always been that way."
Lopez also dished on the dress that first made her a fashion icon. Yes, that dress, the cut-to-there Versace gown she wore when presenting at the 2000 Grammy Awards.
"We had looked at a few dresses, and nothing was right," Lopez told W. "My stylist said, there's this one dress, but other people have worn it. I tried on the Versace and decided to wear it anyway. But I was still surprised by the reaction: When I came onstage with David Duchovny, who was the biggest star in the world then, he said to the audience, ‘Nobody is looking at me.'"
"This loud sound started from the back of the room—it was kind of like a roar, over me in the dress."
And the rest is history!