Jennifer Lopez, known universally as “JLo” is the epitome of versatile, inspiring and fabulous at 50.

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Among Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, and an icon in the realms of fashion, music, small and silver screens, Lopez is at the top of
her game, now more than ever and living proof that age is merely a number. Jennifer Lynn Lopez was born in 1969 in the Bronx, New York to Puerto Rican parents. A dancer from the age of five, Lopez scored a role as a back-up dancer for New Kids on the Block, before making her acting debut at age 16 with a small role in the 1986 film My Little Girl, followed by various bit parts and guest appearances throughout the nineties in TV series, including a regular role as a Fly Girl dancer on the iconic show, In Living Color.

Lopez’s first major film role came in the 1995 motion picture Money Train alongside Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson. Lopez received her first leading role in the Selena biopic in 1997. The film was a commercial and critical success, earned her $1 million and a Golden Globe nomination.

It wasn’t until 1999 that Lopez released her debut album, “On the 6”, which had hit singles like “If You Had My Love” and “Waiting for Tonight”. It went platinum within two weeks. In 2001, with the simultaneous release of her second studio album, “J.Lo” and her romantic comedy The Wedding Planner, Lopez became the first woman to have a number one album and film in the same week. From there followed a plethora of film roles alongside acting luminaries such as George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes and her boyfriend at the time, Ben Affleck, as well as dominating the music charts and judging on hit shows American Idol and World of Dance. She even lent her voice to animated characters in the movies Antz and box office phenomenon, Ice Age Continental Drift.

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As if that weren’t enough, Lopez has a clothing line, The Jennifer Lopez Collection, her own makeup line called Inglot, a flurry of fragrances and penned a book called “True Love” about how she “confronted her greatest challenges, identified her biggest fears, and ultimately emerged a stronger person”. For her contributions to the music industry, Lopez received a landmark star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And with that, J.Lo’s crown as a “triple threat” – actress, singer, dancer – was conferred. To date, she has eight albums to her name and an estimated global sales total of 80 million records. It’s hard to imagine juggling the demands of this multifaceted
career, but add to that the commitments of motherhood and mere mortals would collapse in a heap. Lopez shares 11-year old twins, Max and Emme with her ex-husband Marc Anthony. In 2008, she took an extended hiatus from her career to enjoy the double delight and learn to get the balance right. “Life is about balance,” Lopez says. “It has always been about love and family for me, I’m a romantic that way. As much as work fulfils me and as much as I enjoy it, it pales in comparison to the joy and  appiness I feel with my kids and my family. My kids did help me get more of a balance and learn to manage my time. I want to give them as much time as I can and make sure they
always feel they’re my priority – because they are.”

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But it’s JLo’s most recent film, Hustlers, which she co-produced, that demonstrates her exceptional work ethic and has garnered her most praise, GQ’s 2019 Icon of Year, and nomination for Best Supporting Female Actor in the Film Independent Spirit Awards. It could also see her win acting’s most coveted prize, an Oscar. In Hustlers, Lopez plays tough-as-nails- exotic dancer, Ramona. The movie was inspired by the 2015 New York magazine article entitled “The Hustlers At Scores”, the story of a group of Manhattan strippers as they discover they can make serious money scamming their wealthy Wall St clientele.

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Lopez stars in the film alongside Cardi B, who previously worked as a stripper before becoming a successful rap artist and actress. The movie opens with Ramona bursting onto the stage to the opening chords of Fiona Apple’s anthem, “Criminal” in nine-inch heels and a barely-there rhinestone bodysuit that was essentially a thong connected by three straps, or as Lopez describes is “a ball of string with some chains on it”.  She then leaps into a four-minute pole routine designed to knock the audiences’ collective socks off. Since there were no body doubles in Hustlers, Lopez had to undergo months of intensive training. In a candid mini-documentary on YouTube, Lopez
reveals that despite her solid background in dancing, mastering pole dancing was “the toughest thing I’ve ever done physically”, with the sole aim of looking convincing.

Lopez says she installed poles in her homes in Los Angeles, Miami and New York so she could practise anywhere under the guidance and instruction of Cirque du Soleil pole performer, Johanna Sapakie. Working with her personal training to strengthen her core and upper body to be able to perform certain moves such as the inverted splits, where she supports her entire body weight with just her arms and shoulders. A 10-year veteran of Cirque and the choreographer for the pole dancing scenes in Hustlers, Sapakie slowly introduced Lopez to the principles of pole dancing, such as basic spins and climbing, one movement at a time. According to Sapakie “There’s one where she actually wraps her legs around the pole and just squeezes with her inner thighs and that’s all she’s using to hold on, and that definitely took some practice because you really have to engage those inner thigh muscles in order to hold yourself on the pole. So that’s not one that came on day one!”

After months of diligent training, and severe bruising on her thighs, Lopez mastered even the toughest routines, testament to her drive and professionalism. “She was able to achieve her goal by the end, which was turning upside down and ultimately looking like she’s been doing this her whole life,” added Sapakie. So far, Hustlers has grossed an astounding US$150.5 million worldwide – not bad for an R-rated movie with a production budget of $20 million, aimed at women with a predominantly female cast and a female writer/director.

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Beneath the glitz and the gritty nocturnal lifestyle, the film centres around the relationships women have with each other, overturning the status quo with a view of the world in which men are relegated to nameless clients. Hustlers is also a movie about money and how it makes the wheels of society turn. Ramona puts it succinctly
when she states “This city, this whole country is a strip club. You got people tossing the money. And you got people doing the dance.” But Lopez insists, despite the fortune and the fame – Forbes estimates that she made $47 million in 2018 alone – she is still “Just Jenny from the Block” and her ambition is focused on the art. “I’ve never been
motivated by money,” she said accepting her GQ 2019 Icon award. “I’ve always been motivated by — I want to be a great actress, a great singer, a great dancer. I want to
make movies, I want to make music, and the money came along with that.” Today, in a new phase of life with her partner of 2 years and fiancé since March, former  baseball star, Alex Rodriguez, Lopez says she’s happier than ever. “We’re in a very different place in our lives. We’ve both grown enough to appreciate something that’s
special. It’s a healthy, happy loving relationship in which out children feel included, and that’s a beautiful thing for both of us.”

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