The stunning transformation of Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez has spent a majority of her professional life — and private life — in the spotlight. Between her over 100 acting credits, multiple albums, concerts, friends, family, and charity work, when does this woman even have time to sleep? "I don't have hours," the triple threat told Variety. Though she's continued to take the world of entertainment by storm, it wasn't easy for her to initially receive her first roles. "Maybe 30 years ago, it was very, 'Oh, you're the Latin girl. You'll do Spanish roles; you'll play maids; you'll only be limited to this little box,'" Lopez said. "It's about getting people in the business — the agents, the managers, the Tommy Mottolas of the world — to believe this girl can do more. But you have to prove yourself too."

And prove herself, she has. J.Lo is the only entertainer to have ever had a number one album and a number one movie in the same week (via People). Eventually named one of the most powerful celebrities in the world by Forbes, this working mother has certainly come a long way since her simple beginnings. This is the stunning transformation of Jennifer Lopez.

Growing up as Jenny from the block

Don't be fooled by the rocks that she's got, 'cause she's still just "Jenny from the Block," and Jennifer Lopez attributes much of her success to a humble childhood in the Bronx. "I used to sweep the hair at a beauty salon and clean the sinks," she told Variety. "I just wanted my $10, to go do whatever I wanted with. And it was such a great feeling."

Though her upbringing was nothing extravagant, Lopez felt born to perform. "My mom was into musicals and music, and so I remember being very young thinking I wanted to be in musicals," she explained on CBS Sunday Morning. J.Lo luckily knew from a very young age what she wanted to be when she grew up: "I want to sing, dance, and act. I want to do all three."

Because of her background, she had extra steps to take to ensure herself a place in the spotlight. "I had to work extra hard," Lopez told People. "I wasn't in show business. I didn't live in L.A. I didn't have any connections. I was just a dancer from New York, and I was trying to make it."

Jennifer Lopez started her entertainment career as a dancer

Jennifer Lopez's first job in show business was just the beginning of her now triple threat title. In 1991, she performed as one of the dancing "Fly Girls" on the sketch comedy show, In Living Color. "I always consider myself as a dancer first," Lopez said during an NBC press day in 2017 (via the Daily Mail). "I became a singer and actress after dancing. For me, it's so part of who I am."

However, it wasn't easy receiving her big break on the show. The first time that Lopez auditioned for a spot on the "Fly Girls" dance team, she didn't make it, according to Inside Edition. Before her second audition the following year secured her the job, the young entertainer struggled. J.Lo held many other dancing gigs for little pay, but because of her childhood experiences, she was used to making it work. For this hustler, Lopez knew that her goal wasn't far out of reach. "For me, coming from that struggle, this is a dream come true for me," she continued, while looking back at beginning her career. "I don't say that lightly."

J.Lo became Selena

Following her time on In Living Color, Jennifer Lopez decided to add "actress" to her name. After five auditions in 1997, she beat out 22,000 other women for the title role in Selena. "I couldn't be luckier," she told E! News. When she received her breakthrough role, Lopez was just 26 years old and still had a lot to learn about becoming a performer. "I loved learning from her. Her ease on stage and her looseness was something that I had to learn, because I was such a choreographed dancer," she later explained to GQ. "That part of it was a real blessing."

Lopez became the highest-paid Latina actress in history when she made $1 million from the film (via Entertainment Weekly). The performance also led to her first Golden Globe nomination. Looking back, Lopez told GQ, "Even though I knew it was a huge responsibility, and I wanted to do a great job, there's kind of an ignorance that you have at that age, like how big it would be." 

Little did she know at the time, Lopez's role in the film would catapult her entire career and lead "J.Lo" to becoming a household name.

She released her debut album

After the success of Selena, J.Lo knew it was time to add "singer" to her own title. "I always wanted to make a record," she told CBS Sunday Morning. "And my manager at the time was like, 'Well, you know you won't be taken seriously as an actress if you make a record, so how about we just stick to the acting right now?'" Luckily, even though her acting career was exploding, the young entertainer didn't listen. "For me, it was always all one thing," Lopez explained to People. "It was never, like, two separate things. It was, 'I'm going to be an actress, singer, dancer.'"

In 1999, Lopez took a year off from acting and released her debut album, On the 6 — a reference to her old subway line (via Entertainment Tonight). "It was definitely a different experience promoting the album than promoting a film," Lopez told VH1. "A film is a much more collaborative effort, but the music is just you. It's you there on your own."

The album's lead single, "If You Had My Love," became #1 on the Billboard Top 100 Chart and made Lopez a singing sensation.

Jennifer Lopez became a fashion icon after debuting 'The Dress'

Every woman has had a moment where she feels she has absolutely nothing to wear. When Jennifer Lopez was picking out an outfit for the 2000 Grammys, that's exactly how she felt. "My stylist at the time, Andrea Lieberman, she had a bunch of stuff," Lopez told Vogue. "But it was like, nothing really special." That is, until she pulled out that green Versace dress. "I didn't think it was all that risqué, to be honest," she added. "I was more excited that it was the Grammys. I wasn't really even thinking about the dress that much."

It was a red carpet outfit that immediately turned heads and quickly became the most popular search term that Google had ever had (via Women's Wear Daily). "Google Images didn't exist at the time," Lopez said, but since so many people were searching for photos, her look changed the Internet we know today. "So they created Google Images Search." Since then, it's simply been deemed "The Dress."  

J.Lo got the chance to rock the look again during Milan Fashion Week in 2019 (via USA Today).

Multiple movie roles led J.Lo to launch her own production company

As if Jennifer Lopez wasn't busy enough, after wrapping up her work on the film The Wedding Planner, she decided to add "producer" to her resume. In 2001, she founded her own production company called Nuyorican Productions (via The Hollywood Reporter), which was named by combining "New York" and "Puerto Rican," and became attached to her future projects in the movie industry.

"One of the reasons we started a production company was because there is a lack of roles out there for women like myself — for women period," Lopez explained to the publication. Like so many other decisions that Lopez has made for her career, she seemed to be ahead of her time with that one. "She does things without blueprints," her producing partner, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, said. "Things that nobody has done before her."

And it seems J.Lo has definitely never been afraid to take on new challenges. "Why is she a mogul? She understands the power in the pivot," Goldsmith-Thomas told Variety. "We have one life. She would say, 'What's stopping you? The only thing stopping you is you.'"

After experiencing heartbreak in the spotlight, she married Marc Anthony

As Jennifer Lopez was beginning to be seen on big screens and billboards everywhere, her personal life was also being plastered across magazine covers.

In 2002, she began dating actor Ben Affleck after meeting on the set of their film, Gigli. They fell for each other just like they did in the movie, and soon after, they were engaged. "I really felt like when I met Ben, I was like, 'Okay, this is it. I found him,'" Lopez told People. Having two huge Hollywood names, they quickly became the "it couple." She added, "We just happened to be together at the birth of the tabloids." Sadly, after a two year engagement, Lopez and Affleck decided to break it off. Looking back, she said, "It was just a lot of pressure." 

Just months after splitting up with Affleck, Lopez startled the world with her quick marriage to singer Marc Anthony in 2004. Admitting that she's been in many wrong relationships before, she divulged that there's a way to know when it's right in one of her YouTube videos: "The right one is when you find somebody who really makes you better."

Jennifer Lopez became a mother

At the age of 37 in 2007, Jennifer Lopez announced to the world that she was having a baby with then-husband Marc Anthony — but little did she know that it was going to be even bigger than she expected, just like everything else that seems to have happened in her life. During her first ultrasound, she recalled in one of her YouTube videos, "The doctor says, 'You see that right there? That little grain of rice? That's the baby.'" Explained how ecstatic she was to hear the news, she added, "Then he goes, 'You see this other little grain of rice over here? That's the other baby.'" 

Naturally, J.Lo was shocked to learn she was having twins! Between her busy schedule and constantly expanding career, it wasn't easy for the triple threat to juggle double the motherhood to daughter Emme and son Max at first. "You balance it out just like every working mom," she told Entertainment Tonight. The singer-actress added, "It's not easy, but you do your best."

It was the start of a completely new chapter of Lopez's life, as she told People, "The kids honestly just gave me a new direction."

With her sister by her side, she founded the Lopez Family Foundation

In 2009, Jennifer Lopez decided to take a step back from the spotlight to shine it on people who needed it. She partnered with her sister, Lynda, and founded the non-profit, Lopez Family Foundation

The Lopez sisters wanted mothers to "have everything to manage something that's a huge deal, which we all know, is your child's health," Lynda told HuffPost Live. They started out by providing a telemedicine program in Puerto Rico, where mothers and their little ones could video chat with doctors at the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles to get advice, diagnoses, and treatments for their health. "We just wanted to give that to more women and more mothers," Lynda said. "Here's all the support you need. Here's all the tools. Here's all the help, and here's some piece of mind."

J.Lo told The Maribel Foundation of this partnership, "We're going to hopefully really advance the telemedicine program." Because of her work through the foundation, Jennifer Lopez was chosen to be the UN Foundation's very first Global Advocate for Girls and Women in 2015. 

Jennifer Lopez found herself again through a public divorce

Though magazines made it look like she had everything anyone could ever want, Jennifer Lopez was once at a point where she was feeling very lost in her personal life. "Everything from the outside seemed perfect," she told HuffPost Live, "but the truth was, in that moment, my marriage was falling apart."

When Lopez married Marc Anthony, she thought he was the one with whom she would be spending the rest of her life. "For the realization to start coming in that that wasn't going to be the case was probably the biggest disappointment of my life so far," she later told People. Lopez realized that she had turned into someone she didn't recognize, and that it was time to start focusing on herself again. So, in 2011, the couple filed for divorce after seven years of marriage. "The relationship journey has been very up and down ... It was about me figuring out me," Lopez, who relied on therapy and self-help books during this difficult time, told Harper's Bazaar. "There's an evolution there that had to happen for me. I feel like I'm in a better place now."

She became a judge on American Idol

After Jennifer Lopez had taken some time off to concentrate on her two toddlers, she knew it was time to do something for herself again. In 2011, she signed on to be a judge for American Idol. "It was a big turning point in my career," Lopez told Variety. "Everybody was like, 'Don't do this. Your career will be over, and they won't offer you any movies. They'll think you're a joke as an artist.' And I was like, 'The truth is, I'm not getting offered a whole bunch of movies, so what are they not going to offer me?'"

J.Lo knew it was the only way to get back to work, telling GQ, "I felt like it would be a good way to kind of reintroduce myself back to the business again and to the public eye." Taking a role on television as herself, not a character, would also let fans get to know her. "You can't hide on reality TV," she explained to Variety.  

Over the course of five seasons, Lopez also recorded and released one of her most popular songs ever, "On the Floor." J.Lo was back at it again.

J.Lo booked a Las Vegas residency

With music on her mind, Jennifer Lopez booked her very first Las Vegas residency, All I Have, in 2016 – which seemed to be the perfect way to showcase what it really meant to be J.Lo.

"When I was putting the Vegas show together, I thought, 'We have to have a great Latin section,'" Lopez told People. "And I think it's because it's one of the things that I do that nobody else really does in American music, you know, that they can kind of go between those two worlds." It was important for Lopez's fans to really understand who she is, as she added, "I grew up around it."

Her two-year residency broke records: As the highest-grossing show in Planet Hollywood's history, it sold more than $100 million worth of tickets by the conclusion of its run in 2018, per Variety. "Performing All I Have in Vegas over the last few years has been an incredible and rewarding experience that I won't soon forget," Lopez said in a statement. "Some of the best memories on stage from my career will forever be equated with this city."

Jennifer Lopez found love again

During her Vegas residency, Jennifer Lopez fell in love with more than just performing at Planet Hollywood. She met a new man, former New York Yankees player Alex Rodriguez, who told Ellen DeGeneres that meeting J.Lo. was "the luckiest day of [his] life." And so, in March 2019, he proposed to Lopez on the beach.

Following the magical proposal, it seemed that the entirety of Lopez's life was finally on track. "There were times in my life where my career was going great, and my personal life was going OK. And there were times my personal life was stable, but my career was not great," Lopez told Variety. "This is the first time where I have a really beautiful alignment between the two. I think Alex brought that for me. I love it."

Though Lopez has, in more recent years, decided to keep her personal relationships hidden from the public, she's remained open about how much she loves having kids. So, are there more in the future Mrs. Rodriguez's future? "I want to!" J.Lo told People. "I don't know if it's in God's plan, but I would like to try. I'm so open to it!"

The hype surrounding Hustlers

2019 seemed to be Jennifer Lopez's year. Her starring role in the female-dominated film, Hustlers, had people everywhere taking her even more seriously as an actress. With J.Lo being a real-life hustler herself, it's no wonder the movie gave Lopez her second Golden Globe nomination.

Proud of the female-led cast and crew, she told GQ: "We've been watching men take advantage of women in movies for a long time, so it was a fun ride to see the tables turned." But surprisingly, Lopez admitted that she almost passed on the role. "I had worked so much," she explained to Variety. "I was like, 'I have to stay home with my kids and Alex.'" Luckily, the movie's director postponed filming to accommodate the star, and we're so glad she did! "She's such a gifted actor," director Lorene Scafaria said, adding that she wanted the film to "celebrate that this is Jennifer Lopez at 50 years old, better than we've ever seen her."

Now in her 50s, there's no slowing down J.Lo, who told CBS Sunday Morning, "I still feel youthful, alive, and at the beginning of great adventures." Who knows what she'll surprise us with next!