March marks the start of Women’s History Month and Wednesday was International Women’s Day, so I’d like to dedicate this post to women leadership and specifically, to one woman leader who is blazing a path in entertainment as bright as her superstar status: Jennifer Lopez.
Jennifer Lopez, also known as J.Lo, is a world-famous actress, singer and dancer whose professional career began at age 16, when she made her film debut in My Little Girl. Her big TV break came four years later when she was cast as one of the “Fly Girls” on the sketch comedy show, In Living Color. Today, she’s not only known for her chart-topping tracks and box-office hits but also for her tremendous work ethic and perseverance as an entertainer and activist. Here are five leadership lessons from Jennifer Lopez:
- Believe in yourself. On June 8, 2022, E! News asked Lopez why she chose to give a “sincere thank you” to the “haters” during her Generation Award acceptance speech at the 2022 MTV Music & TV Awards. Her response? She said sometimes those haters inspire us to produce the best results. Lopez believes that the hard moments in our lives, the times where we face opposition or we find ourselves on the opposite side of our goals, are when we’re motivated to achieve them most. “Those are the things that force us to believe in ourselves, and that really forced me to believe in myself and to really work hard and be better in every way that I could,” she explained. Lopez said sometimes we need that opposition because instead of holding us back, it’s the “little push” that moves us forward.
- Find your ultimate motivation and work hard. Did you know Jennifer Lopez didn’t get paid anything for starring in her movie, Hustlers? She did it for free and produced the movie as well. Lopez told GQ she’s never been motivated by money. Instead, she’s motivated by greatness–being a great actress, a great singer, a great dancer. “I do things because I love them,” she told the publication. For Lopez, it’s the powerful combination of her passion for creating art combined with a fervent desire for greatness and a tremendous work ethic that equals lasting success.
- Envision the possibilities. If you do the math, Lopez has been in the entertainment spotlight for more than three decades, and her longevity is in large part due to her limitless belief in herself and the possibilities of what she can achieve. She headlined the Super Bowl with Shakira in 2020 and the experience was documented for the popular Netflix documentary Halftime, directed by Oscar- and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Amanda Micheli. And it almost never came to be! The “documentary” began when Lopez’s friends wanted to capture video to celebrate her 50th birthday on the “It’s My Party” tour and it quickly morphed into something larger when Lopez’s longtime manager and friend Benny Medina saw the bigger story to tell. Hundreds and hundreds of archival footage were sifted through and edited to showcase the incredible work – and social advocacy – that went into Lopez’s halftime show.
- Be an agent of change. According to a report by the University of Pittsburgh, between 1995 and 2005, less than 1% of TV and movie narratives featured Latino lead actors. Today, featuring Latinos in film and TV is up to 5.8% of all productions, according to the USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism’s Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative. And while 5.8% is still far, far lower than it should be, the example set by Jennifer Lopez is inspiring future generations, giving hope that the number will continue to rise. After Lopez’s 1997 hit film Selena grossed almost $12 million in box office sales, Hollywood executives suddenly took notice of her star power – and the power of Latinas on screen. She helped make Latinas in entertainment become mainstream and continues to use her voice to bring more visibility to the community and culture today.
- Give back, always. In 2009, Jennifer Lopez and her sister Lynda Lopez founded the non-profit organization, the Lopez Family Foundation, which was inspired by a real-life scare Lopez had in 2008. When Lopez’s twin daughter Emme found a bump on the back of her head, she was rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night to get checked out. (It turned out, she was OK). After the experience, Lopez had something of an epiphany, recalling to Variety: “I had all these privileges, which wasn’t lost on me. I went back that night and thought, ‘What if I didn’t have that?’” And so, her foundation was born with a mission to improve healthcare for women and children. Among many other health initiatives, the foundation worked with the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital to support its telemedicine program and created the Center for Healthy Childhood at the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, where Lopez famously grew up.
So, what’s the message? Let’s let Lopez explain. She once said: “Have faith. Dream big. Think big…and know anything is possible!”
This article is adapted from Blefari’s weekly, company-wide “Thoughts on Leadership” column from HomeServices of America.