Born: July 24, 1970
Birthplace: New York,
Height: 5'6" (1.68 m)
Interesting facts: Her nickname
was "La Guitarra" in the gym
- because her body was shaped like a guitar
Jennifer Lopez is an idealist and
an actress--one of Puerto Rican descent--who is convinced she can transcend
the stereotypes mainstream Hollywood tends to attach to her heritage.
Interestingly enough, Jennifer Lopez also is a realist and an actress
who, through her idealism and hard work, actually has managed to transcend
those very stereotypes to personify such diverse characters as an Apache
Indian, a Cuban jewel thief and a Tejano singing sensation. Her credits
range from being a "fly girl" on In Living Color to a transit
cop in Money Train.
"You have to be able to change your voice," says Lopez, who
steps into the pop music limelight this month with her starring role in
Warner Bros' Selena. The musical biopic covers the short, but dynamic,
life and career of the top-selling Tejano singer who was gunned down by
an unstable member of her own entourage. "Selena was a Texas girl
and a Mexican, but she had a strong Texas twang and didn't have a Spanish
accent like some people think."
And though Selena's own voice is used in the movie's concert sequences--a
condition on which the artist's father sold the rights to the film--Lopez
was eager to speak in a cadence that would meld with Selena's singing
tone. "I didn't have to sing in the movie, but I learned how to sing
her songs her way, Selena's way. I lip synced to her songs but it appears
I'm singing because I am singing. You just can't hear my voice."
But, despite the fact that Lopez is virtually a lock for the part--even
when it comes to the physical resemblance--the role didn't come easily,
Lopez reflects. She had to endure a grueling audition even though she
had worked with Selena director Gregory Nava on the film My Family.
"Gregory knows me and knows I can act," the actress says with
unabashed confidence. "But I auditoned and screen-tested for the
role. It was an intense test and the hardest audition I ever went through.
I had to do two songs as Selena and perform them as she did. And I had
to perform five scenes. I got there at six in the morning and left at
five in the afternoon."
And then Lopez, who was perfecting her Apache accent in Stray Dogs,
nearly lost the part due to a scheduling conflict. "I was working
until August and they wanted to begin filming in June," she says.
"But they decided to wait for me, and that costs a lot of money.
Plus, my fee at this time is a lot of money. So I was happy that in the
end that they decided to go with me."
Once she began working on Selena, Lopez chose to disappear into the role
and allow the memory of the singer to shine in the spotlight.
"I wasn't interested in putting my own stamp on the performance--not
in this case," Lopez says. "Maybe if Selena had died 50 years
ago. But being that she was so fresh in her public's mind, I knew that
the movie had to be true to her, and that it wasn't about me trying to
become a star in the role. It was important for me to really get the essence
of why she was so wonderful, why she was so important in our community,
and why she touched the hundreds of thousands of people who mourned her
Lopez hopes to touch her own audience with her forthcoming performance
alongside Ice Cube in April'sAnaconda. Next up is Oliver Stone's film
noir thriller Stray Dogs, and she recently appeared in Bob
Rafelson's Blood & Wine opposite Jack Nicholson.
On The 6
+ Cell, The (2000)
+ Angel Eyes (2000)
+ Pluto Nash (2000)
+ The Wedding Planner (2000)
+ Thieves (1999)
+ Antz (1998) (voice) - Azteca
+ Out of Sight (1998) - Karen Sisco
+ U Turn (1997) - Grace McKenna
+ Anaconda (1997) - Terri Flores
+ Selena (1997) - Selena Quintanilla
+ Blood and Wine (1997) - Gabriela
+ Jack (1996) - Miss Marquez
+ Money Train (1995) - Grace Santiago
+ My Family (1995) - Maria Sanchez (in the twenties)
+ "Hotel Malibu" (1994) TV Series - Melinda Lopez
+ "Second Chances" (1993) TV Series - Melinda Lopez
+ Nurses on the Line: The Crash of Flight 7 (1993) (TV) - Rosie
+ "In Living Color" (1990) TV Series - Fly Girls
+ My Little Girl (1986) - Myra