The Evolution of Jennifer Lopez

By Hayden Brooks

July 24, 2020

Nobody hustles as hard as Jennifer Lopez. From early ‘90s backup dancer to 2020 Super Bowl Halftime Show headliner, Lopez has achieved an impressive career, courtesy of her smash hits, films, fragrances, fashion, choreography and so much more. Even at the age of 51, the industry vet seems to be working just as hard as she did during her explosive introduction as J. Lo in the early 2000s. In honor of her 51st birthday, we're taking a look at the evolution of the pop titan's career with some of her biggest milestones — personally and professionally. 

Jennifer Lopez is the daughter of David Lopez and Guadalupe Rodriguez. She grew up in the Bronx, and her parents always encouraged her to pursue a career in entertainment.

Jennifer's first love was David Cruz. They met in 1984 and were together for 10 years.

In 1991, Jennifer Lopez landed a big Hollywood break as a Fly Girl on the Wayans Brothers’ hit Fox comedy show In Living Color.

Jennifer Lopez dated actor Wesley Snipes from 1994 - 1995 after co-starring in Money Train.

In 1997, Jennifer Lopez married Ojani Noa in front of 200 friends. The marriage lasted 13 months, and in 2006 Lopez sued Noa over a tell-all book about their relationship.

Jennifer's breakthrough role was playing the Tejano singer Selena in a biopic. Lopez beat out 11,000 competitors for the role! The movie came out in 1997 with Selena's father's stamp of approval.

J. Lo played a federal marshal alongside George Clooney in the Oscar-nominated film Out of Sight.

Lopez's debut album, On the 6, came out in 1999. The album was named after the 6 subway train that she took to get to dance auditions in Manhattan. The album went triple platinum.

Jennifer Lopez and Sean Combs didn't publicly acknowledge their relationship until September 1999. They arrived at the 1999 MTV Music Awards hand in hand.

J. Lo flaunted some serious cleavage in this iconic Versace dress at the 2000 Grammys.

Jennifer Lopez and Sean "Puff Daddy" dated for almost two years. The two remain friendly to this day.

In 2000, Lopez met Cris Judd, a background dancer in her video for "Love Don't Cost a Thing." The couple married on Sept. 21, 2001. Lopez filed for divorce in July of 2002, just nine months after the wedding.

In 2001, Lopez co-starred opposite Matthew McConaughey in The Wedding Planner.

Jennifer Lopez released her second album J.Lo, which went number one simultaneously with The Wedding Planner.

In 2001, Lopez began production on Gigli, where she met her leading man, Ben Affleck.

While Gigli got scathing reviews, it also gave us Bennifer! Affleck proposed to Lopez with a 6.1-carat pink engagement ring.

Due to Gigli's terrible reviews Miramax postponed the release of the couple's second film together, Jersey Girl. By mid-January, they called off their wedding and their relationship all-together.

In 2002, J. Lo released her her third album This Is Me...Then, with hits on it like "Jenny from the Block."

J. Lo starred in Maid in Manhattan alongside Ralph Fiennes in 2002.

After calling off her engagement to Affleck in 2003, Lopez married Marc Anthony in 2004 at her Beverly Hills mansion. She wore a Vera Wang gown and $7 million dollars worth of Neil Lane jewelry.

In 2004, Lopez returned to her dancing roots in Shall We Dance? with Richard Gere.

Jane Fonda played Jennifer Lopez's worst nightmare in 2005's Monster In-Law.

J.Lo released her fourth album, Rebirth, in 2005.

In 2006, Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez starred in El Cantante, a story of salsa king Hector Lavoe.

In 2008, Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez had twins Max and Emme.

In 2011, Lopez announced that she joined the judges' table at American Idol with fellow newbie Steven Tyler. Her daughter Emme and son Max often visited her on set!

After seven years of marriage Jennifer and Marc decided to go their separate ways.

Jennifer Lopez then started dating Casper Smart in 2011. They even kissed onstage at the American Music Awards!

In 2013, Lopez was honored with the 2500th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California.

J. Lo was a judge alongside Ne-Yo and Derek Hough on World of Dance. She is also the executive producer.

In 2016, Jennifer Lopez had the sixth biggest Vegas residency of all time.

The New York native is currently engaged to retired New York Yankee, Alex Rodriguez.

J. Lo learned to pole dance for her star role in Hustlers. Not only did the film generate rave reviews, but Lopez was also nominated for several major awards.

In 2018, MTV honored J. Lo with the Michael Jackson Video VanGuard Award, making her the first Latin performer to be recognized with the award.

In 2019, Lopez shocked the world when she walked down Donatella Versace’s runway in a recreation of her iconic green dress.

In 2020, J. Lo and Shakira gave a show stopping performance at the Super Bowl LIV halftime show.

Photos: Getty Images

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