Lopez on Shall We Dance?
is no stranger to dancing. Growing up in the Bronx, Jen showed
her dancing skills in her early age with her love to Salsa and
Merengue music. For those of you who tried to “Salsa”
you already realize that it’s no easy task to move your
feet and shake your booty at the same time, but when you see J.Lo
doing it, it does seem easy. Her co-starring role in Shall We
Dance takes advantage of her booty shaking skills in where she
plays a dance instructor who will teach Richard Gere how to Ball
Room Dance. J.Lo spoke to Latino Review about her challenges in
Shall We Dance?
a little alien to you before making this movie?
was as alien as it could be. I felt like I was from Mars. I mean
it was tough. Being a dance I was naturally able to do some things
but it's such a different art form. It's very technical and just
different from any type of movement I've ever done. I've done
flamenco and jazz and hip hop dancing and all kinds of stuff but
this was really challenging.
Did you take
dance lessons when you started out in your career?
Lopez: I started
when I was very young. I did ballet, jazz and flamenco from when
I was five years old. And my professional career started with
dancing in musicals.
telling us yesterday that you rehearsed with someone in Winnipeg
and he rehearsed with someone in LA and then you got together
to dance for the first time on the day of the shoot. Was there
ever any fear that he would drop you or anything like that?
he didn't have to lift me. But he was fantastic and it's true,
because I was working on this other movie and he was working with
a teacher we didn't rehearse together. They though I was going
to be the ringer, but because I had never done it before I ended
up rehearsing a lot. So it wasn't until the day that we filmed
the tango that we actually danced together.
And so how
did it measure up?
It was good.
I'm sure I wasn't as professional as his partner and he wasn't
as professional as my partner but we both somehow pulled it together.
It was about what was happening to the characters in the scene
more than anything else. I think it came off as sexy, but that's
just the surface of it. What's really happening is that those
two people come alive for the first time during that dance. She
realizes he has to let go, that he has the steps and knows the
routine. It's all there but he has to live it, to live in the
moment and she takes him to a place where he can get that passion
going and live in the moment. What happens is that at the same
time it happens for her. She comes alive at the same moment.
is so fantastic in this movie. How much of a hand did you have
in picking out the outfits? Why do you think they worked so well
for you? And what were your favorites?
Carbonell is a really great costume designer and she had a specific
idea of colors - mauves and purples and such. I have an idea of
what looks good on me and honestly didn't know if what she picked
was going to work but she was right on. The clothes were very
feminine and of a classic kind of style. She stayed away from
a hard, modern edge and combined wit with soft make-up for the
character. It came from the dancer. It came from the idea of the
dancer as a classical performer not so much of a today modern
going to look at this movie and see your role as a woman who's
going through heartbreak and looking for happiness and try to
find parallels to your personal life. Was that something you thought
of as you were making it?Do you see it that way now?
I'm making a movie it always seems that there is something about
that time in your life that works for you. This character is very
introverted and kind of turned off and given up on everything
at that point in her life. And for me I wasn't exactly at that
point in my life but I can understand it because of just having
been through different difficulties. I didn't have to draw on
things happening at that point in my life but I've had others
points in my life when things weren't going well that I could
draw on. I can understand her passion for her art and what happens
when things don't work out and your faced with figuring out were
do you go from there. It happens to most people. Things don't
always turn out exactly the way you want them to be and you feel
disappointed. You are not always going to be the winner. That's
when you have to stop and figure out why things happened the way
they did and what you can do to change them.
did you feel you had to make those kinds of decisions about your
Lopez: I don't
look at "Gigli" the way the rest of the world looks
at "Gigli." I gauge my success on whether or not I have
done my job and how well I did it. And I can consider that movie
a success in that sense. I went in there with a certain amount
of material that I could work with and I did the best I could.
When I come away from a movie thinking I didn't do that and I
could have done that - which thank God I have never done, that's
when I consider myself a failure.
the talents that you have what do you consider the hardest thing
that you've done? Is it dance? Is it acting? Is it singing? What
do you consider the toughest moment in your career and what do
you consider the greatest moment in your career?
always felt pretty good about my career and the choices I have
made and how I've challenge myself to do things that are difficult
at times, but I think the biggest challenge I've faced over the
past few years is keeping the image away from the artist. You
know what I mean? Separating the work from the actual person.
I used to think it was so much more sexy back in the day when
it wasn't so much about people's personal lives as it was about
the work that they do. It was controlled - I hate to say that
in front of the press - but it was more controlled by the studio
system. There was a mystery to our stars back then. That's' why
we can look at them still. Yeah, we find things out about them
eventually - Elvis Presley was really this - but it's OK because
we had the illusion for a while. When you watch their movies there
is so much more impact because you didn't know who they were dating
or if they were married or if they were walking around barefoot
acting stupid. It doesn't matter to the work, but it does now.
And that's been the biggest challenge for me.
Of the many
talents you have, what was the toughest to get good at?
Lopez: I think
where I've had the most growth is in my music career, from when
I first started to where I am now with these two new albums I'm
just finishing - and English language one and a Spanish language
one that I'm so excited about.
Can you tell
us more about these two albums?
English album is almost done - I've been working on it since January
- and it's pop music with the same R&B and Latin flavor that
have become sort of my thing. I added a little more funk this
time. I think people will hear that. I went a little heavy on
the drums, but its fun. I'm also thinking about doing my first
tour which I've been talking about for a long time. But because
of the movie thing I always get sidetracked. But this time I'm
really going to try and get out there especially because of the
Any idea when
the albums will be out?
album will be out January 25. The single will be out sometime
in the next month or so.
What is it
Lopez: I don't
know yet. I never know until I have the final master copy in my
hands and I just listen to it for a few days. I have some ideas,
but nothing is set yet.
Is Marc going
to be on any of the CDs?
Well, he produced my Spanish Album.
not going to hear any duets or anything?
We did a duet on his last album.
Are you trying
to avoid the limelight these days? It certainly seems like that
from our point of view. And if you are, what are you doing to
achieve that? Is taking a supporting role in this movie part of
the role in this movie was, frankly, more about it being a really
good script and a good role. I've always been open to whatever
comes my way that's good. It doesn't matter if it's a small role
or a big role as longs as it's a good role and is something that
I will actually enjoy doing. In terms of avoiding the limelight,
I'm just trying to get the focus back on what I do, what I do
as an artist and not what I do when I'm at home. I've always had
this kind of attitude - maybe it's the Bronx in me or whatever
- where I've always been out there. I'm very open. I'm a free
spirit by nature so I didn't think about what I was doing. But
this business has changed me. I didn't want it to but it changed
me. It made me a much more reclusive, private person. As you get
older - and I've been in the business over 15 years now - and
as you experience and go through different things you realize
you have to set boundaries. You have to for your life. You have
to say this is OK and this is not OK. This is what I do for a
living and this is my life. It's the only one I get and so I have
to set boundaries. That's the approach I'm trying to take now,
to get the focus back on what I do. I'm a singer. I'm an actress.
I'm a dancer. That's what I do.
Do you feel
burned by last year? Does this come form feeling overexposed?
definitely reached a fever pitch. Absolutely. But I don't have
to tell you guys that. I felt like there was a time there - and
not just last year but building up - where it was out of control.
What was this thing, this thing that had become me? I didn't like
it. I always dealt well with it but it came to a point where,
you know what? I'm at a different point in my life right now.
I'm a little but older and I like to think a little bit wiser
and more mature and I like to think I've learned from those experiences.
And that's where I'm at. I think that's going to be reflected
in the choices that I make.
brief scene in the movie were you are teaching children how to
dance and I know that you have a clothing line for kids. How do
you like working with kids and being around kids in general?
Lopez: I love
kids. I'd like to think they make all of this…when things
get really crazy they are the best. When you meet a little girl
and she gets so excited - and when I say little I mean form 4
or 5 years old to 18 - those are little girls to me now - it makes
it worthwhile. They're who I make my movies for and who I make
music for. I love kids. I always have.
you describe how dancing makes you feel?
Lopez: I think
of all the things I do it's the one where I am most confident
and I can let go the most. I have to really think when I'm acting
or learn the part so well that I don't have to think, but I have
to put a lot of work into it. The same goes for music. I always
have to work hard to find a way to disconnect from the thinking
until it becomes second nature to me because that's where you
find the best moments. Dancing is like that for me all the time.
It makes me feel free.
you say you are most thankful for?
are so many things. I think my philosophy on that is there isn't
one thing. I'm grateful for everything I have. I'm grateful for
it all. I'm grateful for love most of all because I have a lot
of it in my life.
In terms of
this movie what do you see as the connection between dance and
love? What do you think this movie has to say about love?
know what I like about this movie? That it's realistic in the
fact that all marriages and relationships end up falling into
routines and things get boring sometimes. You go through ups and
downs and the film is truthful in that sense. And you have to
find the answer to whatever is wrong in yourself. It's not your
partner's job to do that. It's internal. It's personal. It's intimate.
You have to be happy within yourself to be good in a love relationship.
And I like that aspect of the movie. I like that Richard Gere's
character has a great life, but he's not happy. There no reason
anyone can point to for him not being happy, but he isn't because
there is something missing in him. He has to find a passion and
a reason to get up everyday beyond all the things he needs to
do to keep his life afloat. And that's very romantic, finding
the love in yourself.
a lot of different genres of movies in the past, including action
and horror movies, but lately you seem to be concentrating on
romantic material. Is that something you prefer to do or is it
something that the studios want you to do?
it's all about the material. I respond to material. In the beginning
you do what they offer you or whatever you can get. And that's
still true now to an extent. I only get to look at what they are
willing to give me, but you get to a point where you have the
confidence to turns things down and wait for something better.
kinds of films that you haven't had a chance to do that you want
are too many to mention. I just want to keep growing and see what
I'm capable of. Just because you've done a lot of movies or made
a few albums doesn't mean you've conquered it. And that's the
fun part of it.
You have a
great solo dance in this movie and to make that work and be so
emotional is it a matter or learning the steps so well that you
can forget them and search for the character and the emotions
in that dance?
it exactly. Working with the choreographer for that scene he had
me just walk around and do whatever I felt. When he saw something
he liked he made note of it. That's how we built the dance and
why it looks the way it does. It was a lot of fun to do it that
way because it came out of me as I became that character. When
it came to filming it was much more structured because of lighting
and camera angles and we had to work hard to find that spontaneity.
Can you tell
us more about why you've chosen not to tour with your music?
not that I've chosen not to tour. I can't tell you how many times
I've made plans and been set to head out and something has come
up. It's always been a scheduling problem. I know tours are a
lot of work. I did a music issue one time with Gwen Stefani and
Sheryl Crowe and they were kidding me, 'You never tour.' I told
them I wanted to and how much I love performing live, but it's
a tough life and I think I know that so when a movie comes up
I chose the movie. But before it is all said and done I will tour.
Is there any
place you can just walk around and hang out, even it you have
to wear a baseball cap?
different on different days. I don't do it that much. Usually
I'll get into the car and only go exactly where I need to go.
I miss walking around so much. You don't know. When I get in the
car I hang my head out the window like a dog so the air will hit
How has your
music changed over the years?
funny. I love the pop album that I'm doing and I feel like it's
going to be a great one and I can't wait for people to hear it,
but I feel that with the Spanish album I've explored a different
side of me, the side that's more of a real singer. It's stuff
that I don't get to do in English. The music has a little more
depth to it, it's a little more passionate. It's what I imagined
myself always doing when I first started. It lets me see that
I can transition into something different, something a little
bit more musical and deep. I don't know if I can do that sort
of thing in English, but I know I'll be able to do it in Spanish.
I love music. I'll always make music and I'll always make English
music as well but I think it will evolve into something else.
We'll have to see. I always go by what feels right.
I know you
don't like to talk about your personal life these days, but can
you just say whether you are looking forward to having children?
And what is it about being a mom that you are looking forward
always wanted children and I feel God will bless me when the time
is right. I come from a very large, very loving family and grew
up very happily. So I miss that.
you say is the most humbling experience that you've had and what
is it that puts you back in line when you feel you're getting
for my britches? That's the good thing about having a family that
does not give a hoot about anything to do with fame. Hey will
keep you in line. As for my most humbling experience…I can't
think of any one thing. Maybe it hasn't happened to me yet professionally.
I've been lucky enough that I can keep creating opportunities
for myself right now. Even when I go back to "Gigli"
it's about doing your best. People will see that. You have to
keep the focus on the work. It's not about what it did at the
box office or if people consider it a great movie or not. It's
not about anything else but doing your best.
seems very intense under the media glare. When things get too
intense is there a higher power that you look to or could you
talk about your spirituality to the degree to which you feel comfortable?
Lopez: I went
to Catholic school for 12 years and went to church every Sunday.
I may not do that anymore but I think it gave me a good basis.
I've also explored things on my own different philosophies and
spiritual teachings and I use what works for me. I know that there
is a force in the world and an energy that you can put out, and
when you put out love it comes back to you. I think that's my
It seems like
you're not talking too much about Marc these days. Maybe I'm wrong,
but if not, why not? Is that part of your new strategy?
think of it as a strategy. It's not a strategy. It's not a thing
where I'm trying to control how things are going to happen. It's
about my life and the quality of my life. What happens is that
there is all this energy focused on you and all these people after
you and you try to do what you can to keep it out of your life,
but as much as you try stuff still sneaks under the door and through
the cracks. It's an energy. It's not one specific thing or the
other. It's having this kind of thing in your life. It's destructive.
It just is. It's hard for people to understand and I get that.
I do get that. I realize people are interested and it's not about
me saying they have no right to know about my life. It's not about
that. The reason I am in the public eye is because of what I do.
None of these people thought I was an interesting person or wanted
to know about my life before. It's because I'm in a movie or because
I do an album. And I just want to get the focus back on that,
on my career and not on my life. It isn't fun to have the focus
of everything be your personal life. It affects everything. It
affects the quality of your life and your relationships. It affects
the way you feel. It affects your family and the way they feel.
It's not fair. It's not good. It's not fun.
You say you
spend more time at home. What do you do when you're home?
the same things you do. Sit and relax. Have dinner. Watch TV.
Nothing too crazy. There's no swinging form the chandeliers or
big parties at the house with all the rock stars coming over.
It's a very mellow, normal existence.