The Many Shades of Jennifer Lopez
Suddenly She’s Everywhere!
Catching up with Jennifer Lopez these days is almost impossible. Whether she’s consoling a contestant as a judge on American Idol, handcuffing a perp on her new NBC cop drama Shades of Blue, or wowing sold-out crowds during her glitzy Las Vegas show All I Have, the indefatigable star’s schedule is so insane that she’s lucky if she can find a minute to breathe. Yet, according to the 46-year-old actress, dancer, producer, fashion designer and singer, concentrating on her breathing is just one of the ways she stays calm and balanced when her life is spiraling in a dozen different directions.
“Doing everything at once can be overwhelming at times,” Jennifer admitted after wrapping up tension-filled scenes for the season finale of Shades of Blue, a project that demands double duty for her as the show’s executive producer and star. “I set aside at least 15 or 20 minutes a day for Transcendental Meditation so I can get my mind and spirit in the right place and face whatever it is that I need to do.”
“Zen Jen” said she didn’t think twice when her team of managers and agents advised against racking up 14-hour days on the set of Shades during the week and filming American Idol on weekends. She also had to carve out time to plan, choreograph and rehearse for the multi-million dollar Las Vegas production All I Have, which opened to rave reviews on January 20th at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino and runs through June. The overloaded schedule, plus the fact that she’s a single mother to rambunctious 8-year-old twins Max and Emme, had her inner circle fussing and telling her it was just too much to handle. But since Jennifer has embraced a non-stop work ethic since she debuted as an entertainer more than two decades ago, she saw no reason to pick and choose projects if it was possible to do them all.
“When I first went to NBC with Shades, it was just as a producer. I wasn’t planning to act in it,” she said. “But I started thinking about the main character, Harlee Santos, and how I really identify with the world she comes from because I grew up in the Bronx. I knew I wouldn’t find a character this good in a movie, so I wanted to explore it and not worry about how to fit it all in with Idol and my residency show in Vegas at the same time.”
The hour-long police drama airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. and improved the network’s troubled time slot so quickly that the show was recently renewed for a second season. Playing a conflicted cop who is forced to choose between betraying her crooked co-workers or protecting her daughter, Lopez said the show’s constant plot twists and complex characters make it tough to distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys. More importantly, as a producer, she is happy to be able to help shape relevant story lines for women.
“We deal with some tough issues on the show, so the women need to be strong,” she said. “And it’s good to see more diversity on television now, especially on NBC. It’s not just about race, but also about gender and all types of diversity.”
Toting a gun and wearing street clothes in Shades is a far cry from Jennifer’s famous fashion statements and red carpet gowns she’s rocked over the years. But longtime “J. Lo” fans marvel that the seemingly ageless entertainer is as stunning today as she was in her 20s and 30s when she inspired the creation of Google Images with her memorable, plunging Versace gown and danced, sang and acted her way to superstardom. Fellow entertainers are just as amazed as spellbound fans when J. Lo struts her stuff in five-inch heels, flaunts her toned body in skin-tight cat suits, and shakes what her Mama gave her with energetic zeal.
When All I Have opened recently in Vegas, she was immediately the hottest ticket on the Strip with celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Nelly, T.I., Nicole Scherzinger and the entire Shades of Blue cast clamoring to see her. It’s no surprise that not a single person complained when a wardrobe malfunction occurred during the show’s first week after she took a bow, splitting her pants to reveal her famous backside.
Jennifer’s global appeal has led to countless awards, a successful fragrance line, a collection of clothing and accessories for Kohl’s® and a contract with L’Oréal Paris to be the face of its EverSleek hair products and Youth Code skincare brands. Over and over, she continues to prove that it’s possible to have a multi-faceted career and turn back the clock in the process. More than a few inquiring minds want to know how she can still be nailing the same moves as her 20-something backup dancers and looking very much like the Fly Girl who landed her first gig in 1991 on the comedy In Living Color. Her skin glows, her booty still has its own insurance policy, her newly toned abs are causing a stir on Instagram, and nothing is sagging anywhere—making her health and beauty secrets more coveted than Tina Turner’s legs or Angelina Jolie’s lips. Thankfully, she’s not one of those celebrities who shrugs and says she never works out, eats cold pizza for breakfast, and credits her looks to good genes. Just like everything else, she works for it.
“In my 20s, I was dancing a lot and doing some really hard workouts,” she said. “Now, I work out three or four times a week and really like to switch things up. Depending on where I’m working, it could be jogging, boxing, circuit training or freestyle dancing.”
Jennifer also takes care of herself by sticking to a clean diet of organic foods, green drinks and protein shakes. She likes to have dinner with her kids every evening and sometimes whips up some of her favorite Puerto Rican dishes when she’s at home. Aside from her diet, exercise and meditation routines, she firmly believes that learning to love oneself is the key to health and happiness. In her autobiography True Love (Celebra Publishing, 2014) she revealed that her relationships and failed marriages were disappointing and puzzling because she always tried very hard to make things work. She finally realized her mistake was always giving in to her partner’s needs and not fighting for what she wanted in her relationships.
“It’s the messy parts that make us human, so we should embrace them and pat ourselves on the back for getting through them rather than being angry for having gotten into them in the first place,” she said. “Ultimately, loving yourself is about self-acceptance, forgiving yourself and embracing every part of who you are.”