American Idol Judge Jennifer Lopez Explains Her Onscreen Meltdown

Superstar tells host Ryan Seacrest why she broke down in tears after sending home sentimental favorite Chris Medina

By Jennifer Arrow Feb 24, 2011 7:45 PMTags

It's not every day that high-maintenance, tightly controlled ladies like Jennifer Lopez break down in tears on national television, but that's what happened last night when J.Lo had to give sentimental favorite Chris Medina the bad news that he'd been cut from the show. Jenny from the Block lost control of herself and crumbled to tears after delivering the message. So what really prompted her collapse, and what does it mean for her as a person? Here's what we can tell you:

Speaking with Ryan Seacrest this morning on his nationally syndicated radio show, Lopez explained why she wept after she cut Medina from the show. (In case you haven't been following along, Medina has been heavily featured this season due to his touching personal story. He's the primary caregiver for his brain-damaged fiancée, who was severely injured in a car accident shortly before they were to be married.)

Lopez said, "I just couldn't believe I had to deliver this news to this person who had been through a lot—and is going through a lot...I felt like I didn't it do it well enough to send him into where he needed to go in his life and be OK. And I didn't want to be a part of that moment in his life…He handled it with such dignity and such class—that made it worse for me. [Laughs.] It was like, 'Oh, he's so awesome. I respect this person so much, and it was just tough.'"

Lopez acknowledged that she's not typically prone to public crying jags, saying, "Even though I'm an emotional and passionate person, I'm very in control of my emotions. I've had to be, over the years, being in the public eye. You have to learn how to suck it up, but that was actually a moment that I didn't expect to be on-camera, in the show. I was really how I felt in that moment. It was really hard."

Indeed, the entire move into unscripted television has been a big change for the multihyphenate megastar. Lopez told Seacrest, "This is all new to me. I am used to having a script in a movie, or a big performance with a cane and a microphone and I have all kinds of stuff going on with my costumes...This is the first experience, on Idol, where people are really getting to know who I am as a person. It's great, because I'm proud of who I am as a person, but scary, because it's such a vulnerable place to be."

Lopez shared that she has experienced a lot of personal growth since the birth of her twins Max and Emme, who are now 2 years old. She says, "[The kids'] needs come first. When you know that, when you have that idea in your mind, everything else just becomes what it becomes...[Before], work was always my first priority, for most of my life—I wasn't even my first priority, work was—and in a weird way that's who I am, that's my nature. So I knew it was a good thing to keep working after the babies were born. But your priorities change. Them being happy is more important than you being happy. It's surprising."

Good for you, mama!

Lopez's move to American Idol has turned out to be brilliant for both her career and the show, don't you think? Do you think Medina deserved a spot in the top 24 this season? (BTW, in case you hadn't heard, Medina's new single, "What Are Words," which was written and coproduced just days ago by impresario Rodney Jerkins, is premiering as a download and video on iTunes tonight.) Hit the comments!

American Idol airs tonight at 8 p.m. on Fox.