When we think about the juggernauts in entertainment, Jennifer Lopez is often overlooked. The Puerto Rican with New York roots should not be slept on. She is an amazing business woman with a rumored net worth of around $380 million, with deals that included her stint as a judge on American Idol, production deals in film and television, and most recently, her Las Vegas residency. This doesn’t even begin to touch on her talent. Over the course of her nearly 30-year reign in entertainment, she has proven herself to be a capable singer, dancer, and actress: a trifecta that very few entertainers can actually achieve. All three of these skills are on display in J.Lo’s latest endeavor, Second Act (which she also produced). And while J.Lo can do it all, my personal opinion is that she truly excels at one: acting.
In Second Act, J.Lo pays Maya, an assistant manager at a local grocery store with 15 years of product retail experience. With her education limited to a GED, she can only hope for a more fulfilling career. When her college-bound godson forges a new, Ivy League identity for her, resulting in a prestigious consulting gig, she rides out the lie. It’s a feel-good movie, both inspirational and funny, and perfect for the holidays. J.Lo carries the film alongside her real life BFF, Leah Remini, and This Is Us hottie Milo Ventimiglia. In one scene, she dances a sexy tango number with one of her rivals (Freddie Stroma) during an office Christmas party. And the movie’s theme song “Limitless” was written by Sia and performed by Lopez herself.
J.Lo herself identifies strongly with her dance background. She started her career as one of the backup dancers known as Fly Girls on the ‘90s sketch comedy show In Living Color. Just last year, she premiered her own competition show called World of Dance. And she can certainly bust a move. The dance scene in Second Act is by far the sexiest, sexier than the one where she pulls Ventimiglia into the shower with her, and even sexier than the one where she dances to "Push It" in a body-con dress. But it’s a fleeting moment of elegance and grace.
My J.Lo fandom starts and ends with her movie roles.
“Limitless” has some bop in it, sure. J.Lo is known for bringing energy, not necessarily the strongest vocals to a song. Don't @ me. I said what I said. “Limitless” is perfect for what it is: a song made to accompany a movie. What that moved me in Second Act are Lopez's acting chops. Period. Despite being a multimillionaire a hundred times over, she played a very convincing working class New Yorker. I felt inspired to apply for jobs — despite already having one — after witnessing Maya's success story unfold on the screen.
My J.Lo fandom starts and ends with her movie roles. Selena is still one of my favorite movies of all times. It took me a few years before I even learned Lopez’s real name. I watch Enough Every. Single. Time. it shows on Lifetime. I don’t need to explain that Maid In Manhattan is a classic. She serves ambiguously ethnic white woman realness in Monster-In-Law and The Wedding Planner. I even re-watched The Cell recently, and none of its weirdness had to do with her. I haven’t seen her TV show Shades of Blue, but I know in my heart that she absolutely nails it. The bottom line is that if J.Lo is listed in the credits, I’m here for it.
I’m not calling for Lopez to retire any of her other skillsets, but I think we can admit that all of our faves are better at some things than they are at others. Ariana Grande has a powerful voice, but can be a little stiff when it's time to dance. Janet Jackson has pulled off some of the best choreography we’ve seen from a performer, but her voice can get a little whispery. Taylor Swift can write nice songs and has great gowns — beautiful gowns. And even Beyoncé, a deity among us, is a master performer on stage, but her skills in front of the camera leave a lot to be desired. No one is perfect, so we lean into our strengths. And for J.Lo, that's the magic she makes after hearing “action!”