Reputed by Forbes to be the richest Latin American woman in Hollywood, Jennifer Lopez is a movie star who commands tens of millions of dollars per picture and a recording artist who's sold more than 50 million albums worldwide. Yet Lopez's tabloid-sized life (including her relationships with Sean "Diddy" Combs, Ben Affleck, and husband Marc Anthony) tends to outshine her artistic endeavors.
She was born in the South Bronx on July 24th, 1969 and began taking singing and dancing lessons after high school. Lopez appeared as a dancer in several hip-hop videos and on TV with New Kids on the Block before joining the Fly Girls, the all-female dance troupe on Fox TV's In Living Color, and then working behind Janet Jackson. Lopez had also begun acting on TV in a series of blink-and-they're-gone dramas; she made her first movie in 1995, My Family. Within two years, she worked her way up to the starring role of a biopic about the Latin-pop singer Selena, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe award. She also began to get serious notice, particularly for her superb turn opposite George Clooney in Steven Soderbergh's Out of Sight (1998).
In 1999, Lopez made her musical move, releasing On the 6 (Number Eight), a blatant bid for mainstream pop-R&B success keyed to her diva-like image, with a hefty touch of Latin-pop flavor. The album featured "No Me Ames" — a Spanish duet with future husband Marc Anthony — and the massive hits "If You Had My Love" (Number One, 1999), club favorite "Waiting for Tonight" (Number Eight, 1999) and "Let's Get Loud." More of the same arrived on J. Lo (Number One, 2001), whose title gave Lopez her permanent nickname. It sired even bigger hits than her debut: "Love Don't Cost a Thing" (Number Three, 2001), "Play" (Number 18, 2001), and a pair of cuts, "I'm Real" and "Ain't It Funny," whose "Murder Remixes" by Murder Inc. honcho Irv Gotti (featuring Inc.'s star rapper, Ja Rule) both went to Number One. A stopgap remixes disc, J to tha L-O! (2002), went to the top of the charts as well, the first remix album to ever do so.
Having gotten the world to call her by three letters, Lopez decided to make herself a bit more accessible. Thus 2002's This Is Me . . . Then (Number Two), featuring the opening single "Jenny From the Block" (Number Three, 2002): "Don't be fooled by the rocks that I've got/I'm still, I'm still Jenny from the block." Also successful were "All I Have" (featuring L.L. Cool J; Number One, 2003) and "I'm Glad" (Number 32, 2003). By this time, however, Lopez's relationship with actor Ben Affleck had blown up in the tabloids; the couple was nicknamed "Bennifer" and their stormy engagement oversaturated both parties in the public eye (she had previously been married to waiter Ojani Noa, and her subsequent relationship with Diddy also spurred headlines — particularly when the pair were stopped by police speeding away from the scene of a shooting at a New York nightclub in December 1999. In 2001, she married again, to backup dancer Cris Judd, who she split from when she began dating Affleck).
Lopez started a clothing line and issued a perfume, waiting until March 2005 to release Rebirth (Number Two), whose title reflected her coming out on the other end of a stressful period. Unfortunately, she wasn't reborn on the charts, and Rebirth had only two smallish hits, "Get Right" (featuring Fabolous; Number 12, 2005) and "Hold You Down" (featuring Fat Joe; Number 64, 2005). She also sang on L.L. Cool J's "Control Myself" (Number Four, 2006).
Soon Lopez was back together with salsa king Marc Anthony, whom she'd dated a few years earlier; they would marry, tour together, and start a family. (Anthony already had kids from two prior marriages; she gave birth to fraternal twins on February 22nd, 2008.) While on a break from music, she turned her attention to her film- and television-production company.
In March 2007 Lopez issued a Spanish album, Como Ama una Mujer (Number 10); that October, she put out Brave (Number 12, 2007), from which came "Do It Well" (Number 31, 2007).