by Tierney Bricker | Wed., Jul. 24, 2019 4:00 AM
Jenny has come a long way from the block.
It might be hard to believe this, but Jennifer Lopez is celebrating her 50th birthday on July 24. The superstar has been a household name since her breakout performance in 1997's Selena and she's kept the public watching her every move since then, thanks to her high-profile romances that played out in the tabloids and unparalleled work ethic, building a massive empire that includes movies, TV shows, music, a clothing line, make-up line and more.
While J.Lo seems to be one of the most confident and self-assured women in Hollywood, it wasn't always that way, with the mother of two recalling a conversation she had with a family member shortly after Selena came out.
"He said that whenever he saw me on TV or in movies, he thought, 'She's scared, but she's doing it anyway.' And he was absolutely right—I was terrified. But I really wanted to try. I wanted to do it."
But that is the J-Lo way: just keep going.
After Selena proved to be the role of a lifetime, Lopez went on to become the highest paid Latina actress in movie history, in addition to selling 80 million records worldwide with her eight studio albums.
While almost every star has to be a multi-hyphenate in today's world—who doesn't seem to have a lifestyle empire?—Lopez was one of the first triple threats to hit Hollywood, with many confused by a woman who dared to want more than to just act.
"From early on in my career, I felt like people wanted to put me in a box," she told Harper's Bazaar. "You will play these sorts of roles, do this type of thing. Or you will only act. You cannot sing and act at the same time. I felt very confined by that because I knew I was going to do different things. I was at least going to try!"
Lopez was always ambitious, hungry for more than to stay in the Bronx.
"If I didn't have certain ambitions, I might have gotten married after high school and had kids and decided to get a job at a bank in Castle Hill, like my aunt did," she explained to InStyle. "It's just that I had dreams and ideas that were different."
And that fierce hunger to make her dreams a reality lead to well-earned success, which then lead to the confidence Lopez has today.
"When I first started, it was always a matter of ‘Am I good? Am I good enough? Do I need to be better? What can I do to be better?'" she told InStyle. "Now I know I'm really good at this. So I just want to do it."
Lopez is mostly definitely doing it, and as she heads into her 50th birthday, she's busier than ever.
Just look at the last year: Lopez hit the big screen in her rom-com Second Act, she launched her first make-up line with Inglot, and she's set to launch her first skincare line this year. She won the CFDA Fashion Icon Award at the 2019 CFDA Fashion Awards in June, the same month she celebrated the 20-year anniversary of her first studio album.
"Hard to believe it's been 20 years since I released On the 6!!!" she wrote on Instagram. "The girl in this video never had a doubt that this was the place she was supposed to be...so confident and sure and maybe a lil oblivious and even ignorant lol... to all that was ahead."
Her NBC drama Shades of Blue, which she starred on and served as an executive producer, finished its three-season run, while World of Dance (which she created, produced and served as the main judge on) continued to be a reality competition hit for NBC. Oh, and then she wrapped up her three-year Las Vegas residency, which ended up grossing more than $100 million in its 125 shows. No big deal.
"I feel very proud that I've survived as long as I have in this business," Lopez said. "At this point in my life, I'm trying to give myself more credit. It's hard when people are always telling you that you're not good at things or saying, 'Why is she successful?' You get a lot of that when you're a successful woman. You don't get that as much when you're a man. The thing about people, women especially, is that you can have 12 people telling you you're amazing, but that one person kind of putting you down, that's the voice that sticks in your head."
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue
Fortunately for Lopez, there's another loud and proud voice in her head telling her she's amazing: her fiance Alex Rodriguez, with the pair quickly becoming a Hollywood power couple when they first began dating in 2017 and it was clear these two were in it for the long haul.
The couple even appeared on Vanity Fair's December cover together, opening up about their relationship. "We are very much twins. We're both Leos; we're both from New York; we're both Latino and about 20 other things," the former New York Yankees star told the magazine.
She added, "I understand him in a way that I don't think anyone else could, and he understands me in a way that no one else could ever."
Both Lopez and Rodriguez, who first met in 2005, have weathered their fair share of ups and downs over their respective careers, all of which played out in the press.
For Rodriguez, he had acquired a bit of a reputation as a serial dater following his divorce from wife Cynthia Scurtis in 2008 after six years of marriage and two daughters together, Natasha and Ella.
In 2016, Rodriguez made his made his public debut with Anne Wojcicki, biologist and 23andMe co-founder, at the ultra-exclusive Met Gala, an event he'd ironically enough make his first official public appearance with Lopez at just one year later.
MiamiPIXX/Vaem / BACKGRID
When it came to his career, Rodriguez underwent a major change when he retired from playing baseball toward the end of the 2016 season, announcing he was moving to a consulting position with the Yankees.
While most professional athletes finally relax once they retire, Rodriguez went into hustle mode, proving he was just getting started.
No one expected Rodriguez to become a business mogul he would quickly turn into as the CEO of A-Rod Corp, his successful investment company, in addition to a hosting a CNBC show and popular Barstool Sports podcast, The Corp, working as sports analyst for Fox and ESPN, and appearing on ABC's Shark Tank as a guest shark.
The only person seemingly busier than the 43-year-old? His partner, whose faced even more media scrutiny over the course of her career.
Lopez has had her dissected by the media and public since she first stepped out with Sean "Diddy" Combs at the 2000 Grammys in her iconic green dress (Fun fact: People searched it on the internet so much that Google was inspired to create the Images search engine) after splitting from her first husband, Ojani Noa, in 1999.
After their high-profile break-up, which was caused by alleged infidelity on his behalf, Lopez quickly moved on with her former back-up dancer Cris Judd, whom she married in 2000. Alas, wedded bliss was short-lived once again, with the couple calling it quits less than one year later.
And then there was Bennifer, one of the most infamous Hollywood couples ever. Lopez began dating Ben Affleck in 2002, when they filmed their infamous flop Gigli, and a whirlwind romance and engagement ensued (along with Affleck's appearance in Lopez's now-iconic "Jenny From the Block" music video).
But just days before their intended 2003 nuptials, the Argo star called off the wedding, citing "excessive media attention." The couple waited months before officially confirming their split.
Reflecting on the romance years later, Lopez told People, "We didn't try to have a public relationship. We just happened to be together at the birth of the tabloids, and it was like, 'Oh my God.' It was just a lot of pressure."
After her high-profile split with Affleck, which she once called her "first big heartbreak," Lopez once again moved on quickly, reunited with ex-boyfriend Marc Anthony just weeks after the split, and the singing couple exchanged vows months later.
But after seven years of marriage and the birth of their twins, Max and Emme, in 2011, Lopez and Anthony called it quits, though their divorce wouldn't be finalized until three years later.
At the time of their split, rumors of "jealousy issues" on Anthony's part surfaced, with a source spilling, "She put up with—and kept putting up with—Marc's controlling ways, which had been going on for a long time, and she was really trying to make the best of it."
In her 2014 memoir True Love, Lopez reflected on her decision to divorce Anthony, admitting, "Anybody looking from the outside in would have thought my life was great. I had a husband and two beautiful children. I was on American Idol and my new single ''On The Floor'' had gone to number one all over the world. What people didn't know was that life really wasn't that good. My relationship was falling apart and I was terrified."
Today, Lopez and Anthony amicably co-parent their twins, and have even gone on to record an album together, with Lopez saying in 2017, "There is a reason we're not together but we're great friends. We're parents together and we're even working...together. That has been even better for us because actually, we met working. That's where we really are magical, when we're on stage together and stuff like that. That's where we're good and so we leave it there."
After her split from Anthony, Lopez moved on with dancer-choreographer Casper Smart, and though the pair would go on to date for close to four years, an insider admitted to E! News at the time, "He is certainly not the big love of her life—she knows that, he knows that. If this relationship lasts it will be surprising to everyone."
Around the time of her split with Smart, Lopez admitted she loved being in a relationship.
"I'm one of those people who does not like to be alone," the then-American Idol judge said on a panel for the show. "I have no shame saying that at this point in my life. I think we have to own who we are."
Asked if she planned on getting married again, she said, "I don't know, I don't know, we'll see. I always believed in that institution. My parents were married for a very long time, for 35 years. I believe in it. It's difficult. I've had my challenges but at the same time I believe in love. That's the main thing."
In 2016, Lopez's next romance was yet another high-profile one, as she was spotted getting close to Drake, and the two superstars were more than happy to add fuel to the fire.
In addition to posting cuddly Instagram photos, the pair attended a fake winter wonderland-themed "prom," during which they were crowned king and queen. After celebrating the sweet moment, they spent the night dancing up on each other, and even shared a kiss on the lips.
At the time of their flirtation, a source told us, "She's just having fun."
Little did we all know she was about to settle down with The One just a few months later.
In an intimate chat with Harper's Bazaar, Lopez reflected on her previous relationships and why she blamed herself for some of the failures in them.
"For me, the relationship journey has been very up and down. But it didn't have to do with anybody else but me—it was about me figuring out me," she said. "Until you learn to love yourself, you can't completely love [someone else] in a way that is pure and true. Once you do that, you can have relationships that are based on love and respect, that are supportive and nourishing. There's an evolution there that had to happen for me. I feel like I'm in a better place now."
Which lead her to A-Rod, and her happily ever after.
"We complement each other, and there's really pure, true love," she told HOLA! USA for its October/November 2017 issue. "Just wanting to support the other person and make them happy. So there's a different selflessness in the love that's beautiful and different. And healthy!"
The couple seamlessly blended their two families, frequently photographed on joint family outings.
"It's so great. Everybody gets along so well," J.Lo gushed to E! News. We're so blessed. We have beautiful children; we have love in our life and we're just great."
And for Rodriguez, dating one of the world's most famous women earned him some major points with his daughters.
"My daughters think of dad as a hero now for the first time. It's amazing," A-Rod admitted on Jimmy Kimmel Live. "They think they went to Heaven, and now they're hanging out with Jennifer backstage. They're dancing. They're singing with her."
In addition to bringing their families together, the couple also were quick to support the other's equally-as-impressive business empires.
And, of course, Rodriguez developed a reputation as the No. 1 J.Lo fan, a constant and endlessly adoring presence at her concerts and performances at awards shows. His Instagram account can sometimes be mistaken for a fan account, as he is quick to gush over the star.
After a recent stop on her It's My Party tour, Lopez uploaded a video on YouTube admitting she was disappointed in her performance, saying it was "a tough show" after she hit her face and began to bleed on stage. Holding back tears, she cried, "I'm not happy with myself."
In that rare moment of self-doubt, Rodriguez was there to lift her up, telling Lopez, "You don't see how great you are. You really have no idea. Baby, nobody's looking at steps. People are looking at how beautiful you look and how great you sound."
In A-Rod, Lopez had finally found a true partner, a man who was inspired by her success and power, not intimidated by it.
It wasn't an if then, but when Rodriguez would finally propose to Lopez. But an engagement didn't come until March 2019, when he got down on one knee to present the Hustlers star with a 15-carat emerald-cut diamond engagement ring, estimated to be worth between $1 million and $5 million.
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In addition to having the business and the boyfriend more than under control, Lopez also has body, with the "Booty" singer seemingly aging in reverse, looking better than ever (with the enviable abs to prove it).
"I've taken care of myself, and now it shows," Lopez told InStyle of her no-caffeine, no-alcohol lifestyle, not to mention her dedication to her intense workout routine (minimum of five days a week BTW) and mandatory eight hours of sleep per night.
"She really leans in to the big fundamentals," Rodriguez explained to Harper's Bazaar, "like getting her rest, eight to 10 hours. She doesn't drink, doesn't smoke. She lives a very clean life."
And it helps having a fiancée who is just as into fitness as you are, with A-Rod telling E! News, "We work out together all the time, she is a fitness enthusiast and she's a much better athlete than me. She does all types of workouts which I don't try to keep up."
In addition to Instagram-worthy workouts with Rodriguez, she works with trainer David Kirsch in New York (think HIIT circuit training) and Tracy Anderson in L.A. (more dance-based), and she still hits the gym when she's on tour. No rest for the well-toned.
"Because it's a physically demanding show, think of it like a basketball player, they do a morning practice and then at night, they have the game," Lopez explained of her pre-show sweat sessions. "We do the same thing. We have our morning workout. We don't kill ourselves, but we get loose, the body gets ready to move around because you just can't get out there and shock yourself."
When you are as busy as J.Lo, it's all about efficiency and time-management, with the "Booty" star saying she "doesn't want to be in the gym three hours or two hours," so her sessions are usually an intense one-hour-and-done event.
But J.Lo also puts in the work in the kitchen, not just the gym and on stage: she's infamously done no-sugar and no-carb social media challenges, and maintains a pretty clean diet, though she does love the occasional indulgence (usually chocolate chip cookies and Puerto-Rican style pork and chicken).
That means her daily eating habits are simple but effective, usually a protein shake for breakfast, salmon and salad (piled high with veggies like broccoli, zucchini and peppers) for lunch and protein-heavy Latin food for dinner.
As for her signature glowing skin? In addition to the no alcohol and no caffeine lifestyle approach, she avoids the sun, is an avid SPF user, and the L'Oréal Paris spokeswoman always removes her makeup and layers on a night cream and for cleansing purposes.
But her beauty routine is shockingly down-to-earth, with the revealing on Watch What Happens Live that one of her go-to products is actually Dr Hauschka's Rose Day Cream, which you can pick up at local Whole Foods. As she told InStyle, "I am pretty low-key when it comes to my day to day beauty routine."
Skyler2018 / BACKGRID
Still, there's one more secret ingredient to Lopez's coveted beauty routine: happiness.
"I also definitely think beauty comes from within—you have to have keep your mind, soul, body and spirit in sync," she told InStyle. "When you are happy and feel joy and love, you radiate beauty."
And as she's gotten older, she's only become happier with herself.
"Women get more confident as they get older," she detailed to W Magazine. "Men in their 20s are very confident and cocky, and women are super insecure. And then it flips: Men get super insecure, and women get comfortable in their own skin, in a way that makes them more beautiful."
So, naturally, turning 50 for Lopez is no big deal.
"I just don't think of myself as an age," she said on Today of her busier-than-ever schedule. "I just think of myself as me and I'm still doing what I've always done and this is what I do and I just keep doing it."
That includes wrapping up her It's My Party tour in August, just before the September release of Hustlers, her highly anticipated strip club drama co-starring Constance Wu, Cardi B, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Julia Stiles and Lizzo. In the just-released trailer, it was Lopez who stole the show, impressively twirling on a stripper pole and leading a group of strippers who steal money from their customers during the 2008 Stock Market crash.
Hey, it's Lopez's party, and it's just getting started.
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