JLo Remembers Facing ‘Opposition’ for Being a ‘Lil Puerto Rican Girl From the Bronx’ Early in Career
Latinas showed up for the Elle “Women in Hollywood” awards ceremony in Los Angeles on December 5. America Ferrera, Eva Longoria and Jennifer Lopez were all honored for their contributions to Hollywood, as well as society. After all, representation matters.
Compared to other years, the 30th annual event was bursting with diversity. Other honorees including Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, Greta Lee, Fantasia Barrino Taylor, Jodie Foster, and Taraji P. Henson. Taking center stage though, was Lopez, who was celebrated with the Icon Award.
“I don’t have an Oscar, and I don’t have a Golden Globe, and I don’t have a Grammy, or a SAG Award, or a BAFTA, or a Critics Choice or a Hollywood Film Award. I do have a Palm Springs International Film Festival Spotlight Award,” she said. “But this is my fifth icon award.”
JLo pointed to her early days in Hollywood, claiming she always wanted to be the “leading lady”
While diversity is still an issue in Hollywood. Lopez discussed the early days of her career, when she was mostly sought after to play stereotypical Latina roles such as the maid.
“I could look forward to playing the maid a lot of times, or the loud-mouth Latina,” she said. “But I knew I wanted to be the leading lady. I was like, ‘I’m that girl! I’m that girl! I feel just like those women that I’ve watched the movie of. I can do this!'”
The “Selena” star also shared she never thought she could be considered an icon, not even thinking the word could make it on her list. However, she accepted the award and the title for its representative nature.
“This award is also about being a representative symbol, in this case what is it is to be a woman in Hollywood,” she said. “But when I think about that, and about the things that I spent my life doing and working at, it’s been so many different things.”
Despite facing opposition in her rise to stardom, Lopez pushed forward
Adding to her speech, Lopez pointed to the opposition she faced consistently for taking a different route than most to stardom. Every step of the way, from her early dancing career to creating her own brand, she said she was met with “tremendous opposition—both literal, like physical, and emotional.”
After all, “the idea that you could do many different things and be taken seriously.” And of course, there was also another factor that stood out among those barriers— her Puerto Rican roots.
“You couldn’t be good or credible at anything if you were sexy. And you couldn’t be sexy if you were a mom, and you couldn’t be intelligent if you were beautiful, and so on and so on,” she adds. “And you certainly couldn’t be any of those things if you were a lil Puerto Rican girl from the Bronx.”
Leaving on a high note, however, Jenny From the Block closed it all with a message of visibility and power for all women and her fellow honorees.
“Thank you for this honor thank you for seeing me, thank you for recognizing me as one of your own,” she said. “I love you. I see you as well. And appreciate every single one of your contributions not just to this industry, but to the whole entire world.”