In a career spanning more than 30 years, Jennifer Lopez has conquered dance, music, the big screen and is an entrepreneur continuously venturing into new businesses—launching her own fashion and beauty, the latter aptly named JLO Beauty—and even as a television executive producer (World of Dance, Shades of Blue).
Videos by American Songwriter
Today, the singer, dancer, actress, singer, fashion designer, television producer, and businesswoman is at the top of A-list with a net worth of approximately $400 million.
“Jenny From the Block”
By the time Lopez release her 2002 hit “Jenny From the Block,” an homage to her Bronx, New York roots, she was already a star. Her 1999 debut album, On the 6—which birthed songs “Waiting for Tonight,” “If You Had My Love,” and “Let’s Get Loud—was an ode to the NYC subway line the “6 train,” that runs through Castle Hill and how she often commuted into Manhattan to school while she was studying at the City University of New York Baruch, which she only attended for one semester, and for dance and other auditions.
Born Jennifer Lynn Lopez on July 24, 1969, Lopez grew up in the Castle Hill neighborhood of Bronx, New York to Puerto Rican parents, David López and Guadalupe Rodríguez, who moved to mainland U.S. when they were children.
By age 5, Lopez was already on the move—dancing. It didn’t take long before a young J Lo was performing internationally in stage musicals as a dancer, touring Europe in the Golden Musicals of Broadway and Japan in Synchronicity, and eventually landed a small role, her big screen debut, at the age of 16 in the 1986 film My Little Girl.
In Living Color
In 1991, Lopez got her first big break as a “Fly Girl” dancer on the TV sketch comedy In Living Color, which also kicked off the careers of Jamie Foxx, Jim Carrey, and Damon Wayans. Lopez stayed with the show until 1993 before landing a new gig, as a backup dancer for Janet Jackson.
Dancing for Janet Jackson (and New Kids on the Block!)
In 1993, Lopez made a small appearance in Janet Jackson music video for “That’s the Way Love Goes” and became her back up dancer soon after. Though Lopez was supposed to Jackson for her Janet World Tour in 1995, she turned it down to focus on her solo career.
Prior to working with Jackson, Lopez worked as a backup dancer, while she was still on In Living Color, for the New Kids on the Block in 1991, and joined them for their performance of “Games” at the 18th Annual American Music Awards. Prior to the performance, NKOTB were coincidentally introduced by In Living Color co-creator Keenan Ivory Wayans.
JLO Beauty & Fragrance
Launched in January 2002, Lopez’s beauty line JLO Beauty had a reported net sales of $75.4 million in 2021, up from $57.5 million in 2020, and (as of 2020) had earned more than $2 billion in retail sales since launching 20 years ago.
Big in Vegas, Baby!
In 2016, Lopez added a Las Vegas residency into her catalog and ran one of the most successful shows of any artist to date. Running from 2016 with 121 shows through 2018, her All I Have Vegas shows earned Lopez approximately $101.8 million, making it the sixth highest-grossing residency of all time and the top-grossing residencies held by a Latin artist.
In The Movies
Lopez landed her first movie role in 1997, starring as the late Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla Perez, who was murdered in 1995, in the movie Selena.
In March 2022, which marked the 25th anniversary of the film’s release, Lopez acknowledged how special the film and the late artist still are to her in an Instagram post.
“What a very special day,” wrote Lopez. “We’re celebrating 25 years of Selena. Today we celebrate and honor Selena’s legacy and music. This movie means so much to me. Selena and her family mean so much to me, and I was so lucky to be chosen to play her.”
The breakout role would lead to many more, including more starring roles in the Oliver Stone-directed U-Turn in 1997 with Sean Penn and Nick Nolte, Out of Sight in 1998, starring alongside George Clooney and The Wedding Planner with Matthew McConaughey in 2001. To date, Lopez has starred in dozens of films, including Maid in Manhattan (2002), Jersey Girl in 2004, where she met her then-boyfriend, now husband Ben Affleck, all the way up to 2019 film Hustlers and her most recent Marry Me in 2022, starring Owen Wilson. Marry Me also included the title track, performed by Lopez, featuring Maluma.
In 2022, Lopez was the subject of the documentary Halftime, documenting her preparation for her 2020 Super Bowl Halftime performance with Shakira and the artist, now 52, looking ahead at her life once she turned 50.
“I feel like I’m just getting started,” said Lopez.
Photo: Trae Patton/NBC