Jennifer Lopez Didn’t Settle for Being Backup — and Neither Should You

What’s Jennifer Lopez’s secret to success? Hard work. We’ve seen this lady singing, dancing and acting for almost 30 years. She didn’t stop when she was overly criticized and she’s definitely not going to stop now.

We see so many entertainers come and go. In the entertainment industry, if you don’t bring on your best game and keep it at a high level as years go by, you’re doomed to fail. A lot of artists sparkled for a brief moment and then they just disappeared, like they never existed in the first place. One day we’re singing their song, and the next we don’t even remember the artist’s name.

Well, this is certainly not the case with Jennifer Lopez. She started where many others did, people told her to quit, but she’s striven harder than many to prove her worth, and now her efforts are highly rewarded. She went from backup dancer to a Super Bowl performer.

The beginning of a blossoming career

Some people just know what they want to do for a living, but the secret is to stick to your ambitions. Young Jennifer took up dancing and singing lessons ever since she was five years old. She grew up in the Bronx, sharing a bed with her two sisters and her family couldn’t afford to offer her too much.

Jennifer had to take her fate into her own hands.Against all obstacles, she commuted downtown to Manhattan on the 6 train to take dance lessons. She moved out of her family’s apartment, took a job at a law firm while she took dancing jobs at night.

You simply cannot picture J Lo standing in a corner and just singing. No matter how slow the rhythm is, she’ll still find a way to show us her dancing skills. And if the song doesn’t allow it, well… there’s no such thing for Lopez. She’s got the moves for any type of song.

Even though she is a complete artist, most people refer to her as a singer, but her breakthrough was actually as a dancer on the popular Fox comedy television series In Living Color. She was one of the “Fly Girls.”

There’s tape out there somewhere, for sure., J Lo told Jay Leno in 2011.

She was also a backup dancer for New Kids on the Block and Janet Jackson. Anybody would have found the opportunity to work with Janet Jackson a career highlight but it was not enough for Jennifer, who knew she deserved the centerstage.

She was supposed to do the entire tour with Janet Jackson, but instead, she decided to opt out because she knew she could do way better than that. Had she not taken that valiant decision, the world may never have known the Jennifer Lopez that we have today.

Acting and singing

Before she was releasing her own music, Jennifer Lopez portrayed the Latina superstar Selena in the classic biopic. The role was uniquely emotional since Selena had died only two years prior to the film. This musical lead became Lopez’s breakout role and paved her way to a long lasting music career. She seized every opportunity and leveled it up.

My business philosophy is that you have to work harder than everybody else. I always tell my kids and they’re like, ‘Yeah, we know you work hard.’ I’m like, ‘No, it’s not just that I work hard. I put in harder work than everybody else. I work harder and harder and harder and harder. When everybody is sleeping, I’m doing more.’ It’s just a relentless pursuit of creativity.

Jennifer Lopez to Variety

Her first music album, On the 6 (1999), was a massive success and we really don’t need the charts to prove it. Twenty years later, we still know all the lyrics of If you Had my Love or Waiting for Tonight, and we still dance like crazy on Let’s Get Loud. The album’s success allowed Lopez to evolve into an icon of pop culture in the years after its release.

Lopez also had to overcome discrimination and double standards on her way to stardom. Very early in my career I dealt with a lot of stuff like that,” she told Variety. “Not getting the passes that men get when they’re misbehaving or doing whatever.”

I was never someone to misbehave, but you’re late and you’re chastised in front of the whole crew and you’re the lead of the movie. The male lead is late and nobody says anything.

Jennifer Lopez to Variety

Despite Lopez didn’t stop to take a break — she constantly improved and reinvented herself showing us that age is just a number. The woman can sing, dance, act and she’s just as fiery as she was 20 years ago.

How the ‘Google Image Search’ was born

Remember the iconic green chiffon Versace dress Lopez wore to the 2000 Grammy Awards? Probably yes, since she recently wore it again at SNL looking just as gorgeous as she did 20 years ago.

Now, we don’t want to just mention a dress that Jennifer Lopez looked stunning in, since she’s had so many other iconic outfits. But back in 2000, the photograph of her wearing the dress was the look that launched a thousand Google searches. And that, was how Google Image Search was born.

At the time, it was the most popular search query we had ever seen. But we had no surefire way of getting users exactly what they wanted: J.­Lo wearing that dress. Google Image Search was born.

Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt to GQ

Not even a tumultuous love life could stop her

While Jennifer is now in a beautiful relationship with Alex Rodriguez, a former professional baseball player and couldn’t be happier, her love life was not always picture perfect.

Back in 1997, Jennifer was married Ojani Noa, a relationship that eventually sent her into a wave of legal troubles. After their divorce, Noa threatened to release a book about their marriage, which would violate their confidentiality agreement. Noa’s actions were vindictive, as he had been fired from the restaurant Lopez owned. Eventually, her lawsuit to counter his actions was successful.

In 1999, she met the rapper Sean Combs, known as by his stage name P Diddy. His association with the rapper inadvertently put her in trouble as the couple was arrested in connection with a shooting that happened in Times Square. While Jennifer was eventually exonerated, having had no connection with the crime, their relationship did not last.

Between Sean Combs and her next, perhaps most memorable to the public, relationship with Ben Affleck, Jennifer was briefly married to a backup dancer named Cris Judd. The marriage did not even last a year before she moved on to the well-known Ben Affleck.

The two were revered as a super couple, being both extremely successful in their respective lanes–she in music, and Ben in the movie world. The word “Bennifer” was popularized and entered into the urban dictionary. But unfortunately, Bennifer was not meant to last and the highly publicized breakup represented Jlo’s first major heartbreak.

I lost my sense of self, questioned if I belonged in this business, thought maybe I did suck at everything. And my relationship self-destructed in front of the entire world. It was a two-year thing for me until I picked myself up again.

Jennifer to Vanity Fair.

She then married her close friend and singer Marc Anthony, with whom she had 2 twins. Once again, her marriage was not meant to last but this time, Jennifer was ready to handle the pressure. She went on to reinvent herself creatively once again, something she has never stopped doing since the inception of her career. This is why she has been a dominant figure in the world of show business

From music icon to judge on American Idol

The singer, who is also an incredible businesswoman, made the decision to become a judge on the incredibly popular show American Idol. She was inspired by every contestant and brought to tears by many of their life stories. But most importantly, she knew she had something to contribute to since music is such a big part of her life. Right now, she is the producer and judge of World of Dance.

Working for free?

It might come as a shock to you that a star like Jennifer Lopez would ever agree to work for free. Yet she did it, and not only once. She believed that taking some career risks might actually help her advance. For Hustlers, Lopez didn’t get paid on the front end for acting in and producing the movie. And now she was just nominated for best supporting female actor for her role in it.

Never accepting to be a backup is the key

If there is one thing we can learn from Jennifer Lopez’ incredible trajectory in her career, it is that one should never settle for the backup role.

You should invest in yourself, believe in your dream and know that hard work and ambition will always take you where you want to be one day. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you.

Even if she’s already at the top, Jennifer Lopez never let her career get stale and she’s constantly pushing herself to be the best at whatever she does. From Janet Jackson’s backup dancer, Jennifer is now performing at the Super Bowl, proving that by never accepting second place, we can achieve our wildest dreams.

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