Born to Puerto Rican parents on July 24, 1969, in the Bronx, New York, Jennifer Lopez is one of the most recognizable film actresses, television personalities, and recording artists in the world today. Her first big break in show business came in 1997, when she was chosen to play the title role in the blockbuster movie Selena. From 2002-04, Lopez dated the actor Ben Affleck, to whom she was briefly engaged. For comprehensive details about her entertainment-industry career and her personal life, click here and here.
Lopez was elated when Barack Obama was elected U.S. President in 2008. Attending the Latino Inaugural Gala in Washington, D.C. on January 19, 2009, Lopez described Obama as “the biggest star here, even though it’s chock-full of celebrities.” “The night he won the election,” Lopez recalled, “you could feel it in the air. I was … watching him with tears in my eyes, thinking, ‘Yes. Something is different. Something is happening.’ We’re very excited.”
In subsequent years, Lopez developed something of a friendship with the president and his family. In 2011 she watched the Super Bowl with Obama at the White House.
When Obama ran for re-election in 2012, Lopez appeared, on his behalf, in a campaign video along with fellow female celebrities like Beyonce, Eva Longoria, Olivia Wilde, Sheryl Crow, Ashley Judd, Julianne Moore, Kerry Washington, and Jane Lynch. Lopez also recorded a “Latinos for Obama” campaign ad, where she lauded the president for “fighting to keep Latino families out of poverty.” “President Obama has had our backs from the beginning,” she stated, “so its time we get his. Latinos will play a key role in this election.” Lopez also attended a fundraising event for Obama in Paris, and she praised the president for having appointed the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor.
From 2011-16, Lopez was a judge on the television program American Idol, a gig that paid her, variously, from $12 million to $20 million per season.
On several occasions, Lopez has made headlines by accepting enormous sums of money to perform in highly controversial venues:
In June 2013, Lopez actively lobbied for the television industry to reserve more roles for Latino actors. “There’s a big revolution going on,” she told the press. “It’s like a media and cultural revolution of Latinos here in the United States. We’re realizing our power. We’re realizing that we matter here. We’re not just the guys working behind the scenes in the kitchens and as a plumber…. We really have influence. We’re really growing as a community and we’ve come into a place where we deserve to be considered and served and catered to….” Lopez also delivered variations of this message in meetings she had with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the National Council of La Raza, and Democratic U.S. Senators Harry Reid and Bob Menendez.
In 2014 Lopez released a new documentary series titled Los Jets, which centered around an “underdog” high-school soccer team from North Carolina composed mostly of young illegal immigrants from Central America. The show’s stated objective was to “put a human face to the illegal immigration debate that rages in the United States.” At a LULAC luncheon where she promoted the series, Lopez said: “It is about the American dream and social and politic issues. But also, it’s about just wanting to belong.”
When Hillary Clinton formally announced her presidential candidacy in April 2015, Lopez said: “I’m very excited by the news…. I think it’s time for a woman [president].” In October 2016, Lopez headlined a free concert in Florida in support of Mrs. Clinton, who was running against Republican Donald Trump. In a separate concert appearance, Lopez told her audience: “We need to take all the mother****ing energy in here to make certain that Trump is not elected!”
In contrast to her high regard for Hillary Clinton, Lopez has voiced contempt for another high-profile female political figure—Republican Sarah Palin—whom she derided as a “cabrona” (bitch) in a 2010 television appearance.
Presenting herself as a devoted environmentalist, Lopez once owned an energy-efficient Toyota Prius. But she also has routinely flown across the globe in gas-guzzling private jets, and has enjoyed excursions on gas-guzzling luxury yachts.
While the state of California was suffering through a historic drought in the summer of 2015—and its residents were required to turn off their lawn sprinklers in order to conserve water—Lopez continued to water her lavish, meticulously landscaped three-acre estate in Hidden Hills (Los Angeles County). One of Lopez’s neighbors told reporters that the entertainer was “pretty dismissive” of the water restriction: “She has said, ‘Oh, so I’ll just pay some fines. What are they going to do?’”
In January 2018, Lopez used her Instagram page to post a photograph of a crying young girl standing behind a steel-wire fence while a woman kissed the child’s hand through the barrier. The image, said Lopez, was emblematic of the pain caused by the Trump administration’s allegedly cruel confinement of illegal border crossers — adults and children alike. Accompanying the photo, Lopez wrote a message urging her 76 million Instagram followers: “Next, call your congressperson and demand an answer, but I also want you to remain hopeful—hold fast to hope, faith and Love.” The photo that Lopez posted, however, had nothing to do with immigration or, for that matter, with events anywhere in the United States. It was a photo of a child in Iraq, from an Atlantic magazine story about the atrocities of ISIS.
During the Super Bowl halftime show on February 2, 2020, Lopez — in an open critique of the Trump administration’s immigration detention policies — performed the song “Born in the USA” while surrounded by children sitting in what looked like cages. Two days later, she posted an Instagram message that said: “All I want my girls, the little girls on stage with me and all over the world to know is how to use their voices and be proud of everything they are. Other people can try to build walls, keep us out or put us in cages. We are proud to recognize that all of us together are what makes this beautiful country truly great.”
As of May 2020, Lopez had a net worth of approximately $400 million.