Just how much wisdom does a multi-hyphenate star with a career several decades long have to share? If they’re Jennifer Lopez, it’s a lot. As the actor-singer-entrepreneur celebrates her birthday today (July 24), the ultimate mega-star shares her life lessons – look, if they work for her, we’ll take it.
1. Silence your inner critic.
“When I first started in my career, it was almost as if you had to be quiet . . . if you did speak out, it was like, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, are you speaking?’ That inner eye-roll I had going on was real and it was part of the time [we were in],” Lopez said. “Now, [women] are kind of in this moment when we realize that our voices are being heard and we are speaking up more. We are saying that we accept this, and won’t accept that, and that we want to be treated equally. It is a much more empowering time.”
2. Celebrate your age.
“There is that part of your life where people are writing you off and you are ready to give up, because there are only so many times you can bang your head up against the wall. Then you go, ‘Maybe it is not supposed to be, maybe I’m not supposed to dream bigger, maybe I am supposed to stay right here. Maybe the bigger better life isn’t for me’ – and that’s a [load of rubbish]. Submitting to that thinking is the failure. The only thing stopping you is you. At the end of the day, there is going to be ageism, there is going to be racism, there is going to be sexism, there is going to be social classism. It is going to exist and you still have to know that even with that, ‘I am still doing this. I am still getting it done, I am going to defy all of those odds.’ It was important for us to put that message out there.”
3. What makes you different makes you strong.
“I always said that when I went out to Hollywood, it was the fact that I was from the Bronx that helped me. It was that I was so different from everyone out there that separated me, and it became my biggest strength,” Lopez said. “That is why throughout my career, I am always Jenny from the Block, I’m real. It is important to me, it is who I am, it is that blood that pumps through your veins, it makes you hungry to remember that you had nothing, and then to want more.” Plus, she added, “I definitely have had to pull out the Bronx on people at the times when they are not correct and not being respectful in the way that they should [be] to a young lady.”
4. It’s not them, it’s you.
“It all starts with you. I remember going through relationships and being like, ‘He’s this, he’s that, he’s wrong,’ and it was always the other person. Then I realized it was me. I had to figure out myself. I had to figure out why I was making the choices I made. We hear this all the time, but you have to love yourself. I had to figure out what that means. I thought I did, but that means taking care of yourself, being your own keeper, making good choices for yourself, figuring out negative patterns, figuring out where you’re hurt and healing, all of those things from your past. That was my biggest piece of wisdom and that is what I am teaching my daughter, to love yourself, be whole on your own first, and then you’ll have a great relationship with the people at work, with your family, and with [those] whom you choose to share your life with.”
5. Do your part for the future.
“It is important for me that a lot of women who work on the set and the cast look like real life. When we produce films, that is what we make sure is reflected. Sometimes movies are more Hollywood and glossy but it still has to look like real life. It can’t be some bullshit. The only movie that ever inspired me and inspired my whole career was West Side Story. The reason was because there were Puerto Ricans in it. It didn’t matter that they were gang members! It mattered that they were singing and dancing and beautiful and they were in love. That was enough for little girl from the Bronx to do all that I have done and to evolve and to become a bigger person, human, philanthropist, and mother.”
Originally published on Vogue.com