Jennifer Lopez is having a milestone year. She just turned 50, she wrapped up a massive world tour, and her upcoming film Hustlers is out next month. Lately, she’s also been making headlines after a recent study was published that showed J.Lo is the only Latinx actress over 45 to star in a film in the last 12 years and now she’s opening up even more. Reflecting on the early days of her career, J.Lo revealed in a recent interview with Variety that when she first started acting she was typecast as the “Latin girl.”
“Maybe 30 years ago, it was very ‘Oh, you’re the Latin girl. You’ll do Spanish roles; you’ll play maids; you’ll only be limited to this little box.’ It’s about getting people in the business — the agents, the managers, the Tommy Mottola’s of the world — to believe this girl can do more,” J.Lo told Variety. “But you have to prove yourself too.”
This unsurprising revelation comes at the heels of a USC Annenberg study which reported that the Latinx community is utterly unrepresented in the Hollywood industry. J.Lo’s talent is undeniable; there’s no doubt about that.
But part of her success is that she’s only one of a handful of Latinx actors that has been able to not only sustain a marketable career in Hollywood but has also become a powerhouse in the past 12 years. If you’re one in a few actors that is stereotyped because of your background, there isn’t much left for growth or improvement.
Earlier this year, America Ferrera also gave an incredible and inspiring Ted Talk in which she spoke about only being offered roles that would portray a pregnant Latina or a chola. It’s completely demeaning to think that the Hollywood industry sees the Latinx community only fit to play these kinds of roles.
But what’s remarkable about Lopez is that she’s proof that Latina women and the rest of the Latinx community can do so much more. Hollywood better start changing its ways because it is people like her that are calling the shots now.
“I think I’m used to being the boss, which is a weird thing to say out loud,” Lopez also told Variety. “Nobody in my family was really the boss of anything. We all had bosses. But I guess in the past few years, I’ve come into my own in believing in myself and giving myself credit, knowing that ‘OK, you’re running the ship.'”
And we’re so glad she is.