‘El Cantante’ Star Focuses on Marriage and Her Life
By Ian Spelling
Jennifer Lopez is putting her money where her mouth is.
Lopez, the Latina superstar from the Bronx, long wanted to take her career into her own hands, to throw her clout behind projects she cared about deeply. And she’s done precisely that. Last year, she starred in and produced the little-seen film “Bordertown,” which reunited her with Gregory Nava, who’d directed Lopez in “My Family” and her breakthrough film, “Selena.” And now the former “In Living Color” Fly Girl dancer is back wearing her star and producer hats with “El Cantante.”
The just-released drama tells the fact-based story of Hector Lavoe (Marc Anthony), dubbed “The King of Salsa,” who moved from Puerto Rico to New York and rose to fame in the mid-‘70s, but lost it all to a vicious heroin addiction and died in 1993 (of complications from AIDS). Lopez co-stars with real-life spouse Anthony as Puchi, Lavoe’s loving, watchful wife, manager and sometime sparring partner, as they fought often and loudly over his rampant drug use.
“El Cantante” landed in Lopez’s lap about six years ago and she battled hard to realize the story as a feature film. She also decided who should play Lavoe – namely Anthony. Bear in mind that this was well before they met, fell in love and, in 2004, got hitched during a top-secret wedding. “Who knew that five years later, when the movie came out, we’d be married?” Lopez recently said. What made the collaboration sing, Lopez added, was that, “Being a couple, you know when things are real.” And those gigantic blow-ups on the screen? Purely acting. “We’d go home and be like, ‘That was wild, right?’” said Lopez, who turned 38 on July 24. “It was an exciting thing to do, (but) not so much that we took it home and were yelling at each other.”
Though it’s true that Lopez and Anthony are both very public figures their relationship has never received the kind of unrelenting attention that the tabloids and public paid Lopez and Sean Combs when they dated or gave “Jenny from the Block” and Ben Affleck when they dated, subsequently got engaged, starred opposite one another in the disastrous “Gigli” and eventually broke up. Likewise, whereas once upon a time the thrice-married Lopez appeared to be everywhere simultaneously, these days she’s far less ubiquitous. Credit for that goes to Anthony.
“Her days seemed long because they didn’t stop,” Anthony said recently. “She’d try to accomplish the next thing.”
Lopez concurred, saying, “(It was) by choice. I want to live a little.”
Anthony and Lopez have been — and will continue to be — together a lot. They shot “El Cantante” together and now they’re promoting it together and they’ve been attending premieres hand in hand. He produced her recent Spanish-language album “Como Ama Una Mujer,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Latin chart, and they’re about to tour on a twin bill.
“We don’t plan things,” said Lopez, whose next album, “Brave” will be released in October.
“I like knowing he’s there,” she added. “He likes knowing I’m there.”
J-LO’s New York Connection
Jennifer Lopez has made it big in Hollywood, but this native New Yorker still has strong ties to her hometown.
- Jennifer Lopez was born in Castle Hill, a neighborhood in the northeast Bronx. There she was raised by her Puerto Rican parents Guadalupe Rodriguez and David Lopez with her two siblings, Linda and Leslie.
- Her creative career began in Manhattan, where she went on tour at the tender age of 7 with her dance class. Later as a young adult she balanced a full course load at Baruch, classes at a local dance school, a day job in a legal office, and nighttime dance performances in clubs.
- Jennifer Lopez was not the only one in the family to turn to the entertainment industry. Her younger sister Linda went on to become a DJ on the New York radio station WKTU, and an entertainment correspondent for the New York branch of the WB Network Channel 11 News.
- The title of her debut album, “On the 6,” was a reference to the subway line she took to get to Manhattan from Castle Hill as a kid. The album reached the top 10 of the Billboard 200, and the number-one lead single, “If You Had My Love,” held a spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for multiple weeks.
- For her 30th birthday Lopez opted to keep it simple and come home and visit with family in New York. But then boyfriend Sean “Diddy” Combs planned a huge surprise birthday for her at Lotus, which was attended by all her family and friends from New York. Tito Nieves even sang “Happy Birthday” to the star with the backing of his band.
- Not all of Lopez’s memories of New York are fond ones. It was at Club New York, a midtown Manhattan nightclub, that shots were exchanged between the entourage of then boyfriend Sean Combs and another group in December 1999. The initial charge against Lopez of felony gun possession was soon dropped.
- New York has always been known as a fashion capital, and the Bronx native has been an active participant. This upcoming fall she will retire her first clothing line, JLO, and launch a new juniors line called JustSweet. Her chosen location for the debut? New York Fashion Week.
- When Lopez visits New York City today she does so in style, preferring to stay at either The St. Regis or the Four Seasons. Her trips often include gourmet meals at Downtown Cipriani and shopping in high-end clothing stores throughout Tribeca and Soho. But she hasn’t forgotten her more humble roots, and reportedly enjoys going to the family-style Victor’s Cafe 52 for Cuban home cooking, or dancing the night away at Jimmy’s Bronx Cafe. And as for sightseeing? The star apparently still enjoys taking walks in Central Park.
- Lopez recently appeared in New York City on July 26th for the red carpet premier of her new movie “El Cantante,” in which she stars alongside her husband Marc Anthony. And just a month earlier the couple participated in the annual festivities of the Puerto Rican Day Parade.