SHE has sold 80million records and is the world’s highest-paid Latino actress, but Jennifer Lopez has spent years struggling with self-doubt.
Despite her success, J-Lo has been panned by critics throughout her career and coped with a love life that has seen her marry and divorce three times.
But now the megastar says she is happier than ever after getting engaged to former baseball player Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez.
On top of that, she has finally received the praise she deserves for her acting thanks to her Oscar-tipped role in new film Hustlers.
She said: “After I had some success I suddenly saw a lot of criticism thrown my way and it made me doubt myself.
“There was all this talk that I wasn’t really an actress, that I wasn’t really a singer.
The movie follows a crew of strippers in New York City[/caption]
“I’m very sensitive and it was hard for me to avoid focusing on the negative things, instead of looking at the positive.”
J-Lo decided her plan of action would be to work harder, make more records, star in more films — and prove herself.
She said: “There have been times when my career was going awesome and times when my personal life was going good, but they never coincided.
“Right now I feel like my personal life and my career are in sync.
Lopez alongside fiance Alex Rodriguez at the Hustlers premiere[/caption]
“It took me a long time to find that balance, to find that self-love. And I think we’re finally there.”
Her new movie is based on the real-life story of four strippers who lured men into lap-dance joints, spiked their drinks then swiped their credit cards to steal cash.
And today the 50-year-old tells how she perfected the part by dancing at home in her knickers while fiancé Alex, 44, filmed her.
Recalling the first days of training on a stripper pole she had installed in her home, Jennifer said: “When I first started, the instructor comes over and tells me, ‘You have to take off a lot of your clothes because your skin has to stick to the pole. You’re going to be in your bra and underwear, so be comfortable being like that’.
Jennifer and Alex and their combined family[/caption]
“I was like, ‘Are you f***ing kidding me?’. I don’t even know you’.
“Meanwhile, Alex is in the house and I am only in my bra and pants.
“He comes over and starts filming and immediately posts it online.
“I say, ‘What are you doing? I don’t even know what I’m doing yet’. He’s like, ‘It’s great, it’s great’.
J-Lo on her very first wedding day in 1997 with husband Ojani Noa[/caption]
“So he enjoyed watching me and as I got better and better, he was like, ‘Wow, how did you do that, how did you go upside down? You couldn’t even climb up the thing two weeks ago’.
“It was fun to learn but it was difficult.
“I was very beat up and had huge bruises all over my legs and my shoulders. I had to really train a lot.”
It has been a big year for the actress. In March she got engaged to Alex — who has previously been linked to Madonna and Cameron Diaz — and in July she turned 50.
The actress got married for the second time in 2001 to Chris Judd[/caption]
After two years of dating, he popped the question in March during a romantic getaway and gave her an engagement ring estimated to have cost almost £1million.
It will be the singer’s fourth wedding. Her first marriage to Cuban waiter Ojani Noa ended in 1998 after just one year.
In 2001 she married dancer Cris Judd but they divorced in 2003. Her third husband, in 2004, was Latino singer Marc Anthony, father of her 11-year-old twins Max and Emme. The couple divorced in 2014.
But this time Jennifer insists the union will be for keeps, adding: “I think I’ve under-stood that marriage takes a lot more than just falling in love and sharing a home.
In 2004 J-Lo entered a 10 year marriage to singer and actor Marc Anthony[/caption]
“Alex and I had a connection from the very beginning and maybe could see a future for ourselves.
“We talked about it a few times. But when he proposed it was a surprise for me.
“We love each other, love being around each other and have a lot of respect for each other. That’s a big part of it.
“Both of us show up for each other and that’s a big deal in a relationship, especially when you are both strong people who have two big lives.
Lopez has loved to dance from a young age[/caption]
“That means him coming to concerts, me going to his ball game, all that stuff.”
Her kids and Rodriguez’s daughters, Natasha, 14, and Ella, ten, from his five-year marriage to former psychology teacher Cynthia Scurtis, have become firm friends.
With a big family and busy work schedules, finding time for them- selves is not always easy, but they manage it when they can.
Jennifer said: “We steal moments. Like last week we went away on a vacation for four days.
Hustlers starring Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Julia Stiles and Cardi B is out in cinemas now[/caption]
“He had work to do when we were away. I can’t tell him not to work because then the next thing I know I’m picking up a script and trying to make notes on it.
“We spend as much time together as we can and we make a huge effort to be in each other’s lives as much as we can.”
J-Lo is not only committed to her lover, she also prides herself on looking after her body. And as she enters her 51st year looking sensational, it is obvious all her hard work is paying off.
She said: “I have always taken pretty good care of myself. I make sure I do intensive workouts at least three or four days a week, not because I’m in love with training but because I can see the results and I feel a lot better when I’m in shape.
Lopez says she was bruised and beat up after her first attempts at pole dancing[/caption]
“As you get older it’s even more important to put in the extra hours of training to keep your body toned.
“I started out as a dancer, and I remember whenever I arrived at the gym in the morning I would spend as many hours there as I could. I would train until the point of exhaustion. So I have the mentality to be able to push myself pretty hard.
“Women don’t have an expiration date and we can’t be dismissed because we’re in our forties or fifties or whatever.”
This summer the actress-singer embarked on It’s My Party, her first concert tour in seven years, to celebrate her 50th birthday.
Quay Australia recruited both Jennifer and A-Rod for their sunglasses campaign[/caption]
J-Lo’s children went with her on the 30 dates.
She said: “It was like a big camping trip except Mommy had to put on fake eyelashes and sparkly outfits every night to sing and dance.
“And Emme sang with me. That was amazing — and she’s a great singer. So it was a very special summer for all of us.”
Although she has a hectic work schedule, Jennifer has no intention of slowing down for a while yet.
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She said: “I always say I’m going to work less but I have so many great opportunities at this point in my life.
“It’s the best that it’s ever been for me and it’s just getting better and better and better.
“I’m getting more confident and I’m getting better at everything I do, Why wouldn’t I keep doing it?”
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