a look back at jennifer lopez's career firsts
From being the first Latina actress to earn a $1 million payday to inspiring the creation of Google Images.
Photo by James Devaney/GC Images
Jennifer Lopez has been teasing her 50th birthday celebration since the announcement of her It’s My Party concert tour in February, and now it's finally here. It’s hard to believe that the Bronx born, Puerto Rican diva has been gracing our screens and dancing her way to stardom for almost 30 years now (especially since she hasn't aged a day).
From starting off as a fly girl on In Living Color to her breakout role in Selena and becoming a fashion and music mogul, Lopez’s career trajectory is one that only few other singers and actors have had the luxury of experiencing. Her name is one that’s synonymous with success—she is one of the best-selling female recording artists of all time, but her cultural status and platform as one of the most prominent Latinx performers of this modern era is an accomplished feat that aspiring Latinx artists today will reap the benefits from for generations to come.
Below we’ve broken down some of Lopez’s most incredible career highlights that paved the way for the larger than life star she is today.
First Latina Actress To Get A $1 Million Payday
Lopez was destined to be a box office star from the jump. To this day, her first starring movie role as Selena Quintanilla in her 1997 namesake biopic is still her most memorable movie. Though the film is considered a classic today and the singular moment that boosted Lopez’s career into superstardom, her casting was met with constant controversy. Fans were angry casting producers didn’t choose a Mexican-American actress to play Selena and thought Lopez wouldn’t be believable as the Tejana icon. The film’s directors had no doubts however. Selena was not only the first project of Lopez’s where she received a one million dollar payday, but she was the first Latina actress to do so as well. Since then, Lopez’s has held her reign as one of the highest paid Latina actresses in Hollywood.
First Woman To Accomplish Simultaneous Number One Opening Weeks
The success of Selena proved to Lopez that pursuing acting and recording an album could be an accomplishable—and profitable—career goal for herself. Where as Selena proved Lopez’s acting chops, her debut album On The 6 solidified Lopez’s path to becoming a music icon in a league all of her own. Twenty years later, the album still rings as Lopez’s most authentic musical work, considering it’s timeless and seamless musical combination of the pop, hip-hop, and Latin infused styles that influenced a young Lopez.
The album went on to be an instant hit and produced iconic singles such as "Waiting For Tonight" and "If You Had My Love" with corresponding videos that perfectly showcase the ultra metallic and futuristic early millennium aesthetic. On The 6 debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 the same week Lopez’s film The Wedding Planner topped the weekend box office—making Lopez the first woman to accomplish simultaneous number one opening weeks for two separate music and film releases.
Inspired The Creation Of Google Images
It was the dress that started it all. Alongside being a certified music and film icon, it was only a matter of time until Lopez became a certified fashion darling as well. To this day, Lopez’s signature style moment remains to be the tropical inspired, leafy printed Versace maxi dress she wore alongside Puff Daddy at the Grammy Awards in 2000. The dress’ sheer fabrication combined with it’s deep plunging neckline and sexy open back design single handedly inspired the creation of Google Search Images in the early aughts of the internet age because everybody needed to know who designed the dress. Lopez looked back at the moment during a video on her Youtube channel where she mentioned her stylist begged for her not to wear the Versace since it had already been photographed three times previously on different stars.
“I put on the green dress and come out and [my manager] Benny [Medina] goes, ‘That’s it. That’s it. Don’t even talk about it. That’s the dress,” Lopez reminisced.
First Alleged Ass Insurance
Though it’s never been confirmed and she has denied the ongoing rumors, there was a time when the press ran wild saying that Lopez had insured her cheeky signature body part, her butt, for a cool 27 million dollars. Whether true or not, Lopez was one of the original Hollywood stars who proudly embraced her curves way before Kim Kardashian and made having a bit in the back a full blown body trend. Lopez never succumbed to the pressure of being ultra skinny for the sake of Hollywood however, and she’s said it’s because of her Puerto Rican upbringing that embraces—rather than shames—a curvier figure. “Being curvy or not being 6 feet tall was never a bad thing; it was actually something that was celebrated [in my family],” Lopez told InStyle last year. “And so, later on, when I brought that in front of the world, I wasn’t really trying to send a message. I was just being myself.”
- Jennifer Lopez