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The Triple Threat: Jennifer Lopez is Born

She is the highest paid Latina actress in history, one of the most successful singers and dancers in the world, and also owns a thriving fashion design and perfume company. Her salary per movie has soared past the $12 million mark and she has earned Golden Globe and Grammy Award nominations for her efforts. She has created an empire worth almost $300 million and has broken numerous boundaries and stereotypes along the way. Jennifer Lopez is, as they say in Hollywood, a ‘triple threat’.

Born in the Bronx, New York, on July 24, 1970, Jennifer Lynn Lopez and her two sisters hail from Puerto Rican parents Guadalupe Rodriguez and David Lopez. Her father was a computer technician, who continues to work for Guardian Insurance in New York City, and her mother was a kindergarten teacher. Both were born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, but met when they came to America as children.

While they were not a poor family, Lopez recalls growing up in a small apartment that was “cold in the winter, hot in the summer…but hey, there was always rice and beans.” Her parents instilled within her a strong work ethic and stressed the importance of assimilation and being able to speak English. To keep their kids out of trouble, Lopez’s parents encouraged the girls to put on performances at home, singing and dancing in front of each other and their friends.

At the age of 5, Lopez began taking singing and dancing lessons, touring New York with her school at just 7-years-old. She then spent eight years at Catholic Holy Family High School in the Bronx and another four years at the all-girl Preston High School. She excelled athletically rather than academically, competing in national track championships. When she was once asked what she got on her SATs, she replied, “Nail polish.” She also spent time performing in high school musicals as well as local productions of Oklahoma and Jesus Christ Superstar.

At 16-years-old, Lopez received her first chance to star in a film, working with Mary Stuart Masterson in My Little Girl. This was Lopez’s first taste of Hollywood and she knew she wanted more. After graduating from high school, Lopez enrolled in Baruch College in Manhattan and took on a part-time job in a law office, but dropped out of school after just her first semester. She spent the next year and a half auditioning for acting and dancing roles, but found little success. Meanwhile, her parents were disappointed with her career choice and so Lopez moved out on her own, working as a dancer in Manhattan nightclubs to support herself.

Lopez was on the verge of giving up her dreams when she finally won a role in a Japanese tour of the musical Synchronicity. When she returned to the U.S., her luck was all about to change. After her third audition, Lopez at last received a role as a Fly Girl on the successful In Living Color, the dance group whose routines opened and closed the show. This would prove to be the launching pad for the enormous success that Lopez would soon discover.

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