During a recent interview for Elle magazine‘s 2023 Women in Hollywood December/January issue, the multihyphenate admitted that she “really came in blind” and looking back would be more selective in what she takes on.
“I didn’t have that luxury, being Latina. I didn’t get called in for everything someone who wasn’t Latina would get called in for. I got called in for very specific things,” Lopez explained. “As I started getting more leads here and there, I should have pulled back. I took that mindset with me instead of going, ‘I should only work with certain kinds of directors that I really want to work with. I should choose this material in a different way.’”
The Hustlers star continued, “I just wasn’t as particular as I could be, I think. And if I [could] start over, I think I would’ve done that. I would’ve known that the director is really the helm of the project when you’re acting. Just like in singing, the producers you work with are very important. I knew that with music, but I didn’t quite understand it as much when I was younger about directors.”
Since getting her start, Lopez has proved to be a force throughout the entertainment industry. She worked as a professional dancer before making her way into Hollywood with some smaller roles on TV. She later landed her first major movie role, playing a young Maria Sánchez in 1995’s My Family. But it wasn’t until Lopez landed the role of Selena Quintanilla, in the 1997 biopic Selena, that she rose to stardom.
Lopez went on to star in several other popular films throughout the late ’90s and early 2000s, including Anaconda, Out of Sight, The Wedding Planner, Maid in Manhattan, Gigli and Shall We Dance. She also launched a successful singing career in 1999 with her debut album, On The 6.
Elsewhere in her interview with Elle, the actress-singer-dancer said it’s a “very exciting time for women in Hollywood” seeing “all the great women producers, directors and actors who are taking more control of their careers and creating their own material.” But she later noted that “there are still a lot of obstacles in the way” that women must overcome for current and future generations in Hollywood.
“It’s not everything you would want it to be, but at least you can see a diverse cast in a movie where the leads are of different races and genders and things like that. And I think that’s encouraging, that we fought for that,” Lopez said. “I like to think that having been able to break into certain things, that I didn’t settle, knowing in my heart that I was just another girl, and I could tell a story of any woman.”
The Mother actress added, “One of the things I’ve learned, too, is that we have to take ownership. We can’t sit around and wait for people to hand us roles. A lot of actresses right now, they produce their own movies and develop their own material, and I think that’s key as well.”