If you ever thought 50 was an age at which a woman thinks she should slow down and enjoy the fruits of her labor, you haven't seen Jennifer Lopez in action lately. She could be relaxing, focusing on her many behind-the-scenes business endeavors, planning her fourth wedding. But no, she is up on the stage working it more than any of us did at 18, and we should expect no less, given what we've seen of J.Lo's career drive for the past three decades.
In those decades, Lopez had had a lot of highs: From "Waiting for Tonight" to "Medicine" (her 17th No. 1 dance hit), she has been a staple in the clubs. We still hold a special place in our hearts for The Wedding Planner, not to mention her critically acclaimed roles in Out of Sight and Selena. The stripper revenge flick Hustlers looks to be another promising notch on her belt.
That's not to say it's been smooth sailing since day 1 for Jenny from the Block.
When Lopez first auditioned to be a Fly Girl on In Living Color at age 20, she didn't even make the cut. But through movie flops, ignored albums, and failed marriages, she has shown what happens when you power through your losses and move on to the next thing. You wind up being able to celebrate your 50th birthday with a 32-date tour.
"I try not to think about age," she told Ellen DeGeneres last year. "I go more with how I feel inside, and I feel very youthful and energetic. I feel like I have a lot of energy still."
In celebration of that energy, let's look back at J.Lo's career timeline.
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1995, Money Train
After appearing in the indie film Mi Familia, Lopez got her first big movie role playing a transit cop opposite Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson. The movie was panned, and it's basically only talked about these days because of beef between J.Lo and Snipes after she told Movieline magazine that he wouldn't accept her rejection of him.
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1999, On The 6
No doubt, Selena helped Lopez land her music contract. And this album's third single, "Waiting for Tonight," eventually became so popular, people forgot she was an actress. We also have that album to thank for her 2000 appearance at the Grammys, where she wore that legendary green Versace dress. This was the era in which Lopez dated Puff Daddy and became as much a celebrity as an entertainer.
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2001, The Wedding Planner and J.Lo
J.Lo began her streak as a rom-com queen with this Adam Shankman-directed flick, opposite Matthew McConaughey. Critics hated them, but she couldn't care less. See also: Maid in Manhattan (2002), Shall We Dance? (2004), Monster-in-Law (2005), and The Back-Up Plan (2010). (We'll get to Gigli in a minute.)
At the same time, her second album, J.Lo, debuted at #1 on the charts, and we're still singing along to "Love Don't Cost a Thing" and "I'm Real."
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2002, This Is Me Then
Here we enter the Bennifer era of Lopez's career, which gave us the gift of "Jenny from the Block" and the dubious sight of Ben Affleck rubbing her famous derrière on a yacht.
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We're also going to just go ahead and blame Affleck for almost single-handedly killing Lopez's acting career with Gigli, the infamous box office flop. Luckily, it didn't actually end up stopping her.
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2007, El Cantante
For some reason, people really don't like seeing Lopez on-screen with real-life loves, so her movie with then-husband Marc Anthony was a dud. The best thing to come out of this era? Her twins Max and Emme, of course.
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2011, Love? and American Idol
By design, Lopez made her comeback on multiple fronts at once: She debuted as a judge on American Idol and released Love? with single "On the Floor" all in early 2011, and it worked.
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2015, The Boy Next Door
Lopez had slowed down her movie career for a few years, but focused on it again to play a high school teacher who becomes the object of her teenage next-door neighbor's obsession. Was it an Oscar-worthy performance? Nope. But The Boy Next Door was one of her most successful movies ever.
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2016, Shades of Blue
Like so many A-list actors in this era of peak TV, Lopez tried her hand at a scripted TV show, too. It's curious that she chose such a traditional network cop show for this experiment, but it did last for three seasons on NBC, so there's that!
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2016, "All I Have" Las Vegas Residency
Like Elvis, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey and Britney Spears before her, Lopez discovered the joys of a Vegas residency. Lopez put on a huge show and reminded everyone just how well she could dance. She grossed more than $100 million with 120 shows, the sixth biggest Vegas residency of all time.
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2018, Second Act
Lopez returned to the rom-com circuit in late 2018 with this workplace comedy/rom-com about a grocery store manager from Queens who accidentally fakes her way into a six-figure marketing gig in Manhattan. It had a decent box office showing and delivered the irresistible on-screen pairing of Milo Ventimiglia and Lopez. Win-win!