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Jennifer Lopez: Then and now

Jennifer Lopez, from her film <em>This Is Me...Now</em> © Amazon Content Services LLC
Dave Meyers, director
Courtesy of Prime
Jennifer Lopez, from her film This Is Me...Now © Amazon Content Services LLC

Jennifer Lopez scored one of the biggest hits of her music career with "Jenny from the Block" from her 2002 album This Is Me...Then.

It's taken her more than 20 years to offer a companion record.

This Is Me...Now finds her similarly motivated in 2024.

"There was an inciting incident both times," Lopez told Morning Edition host Leila Fadel, "I fell in love."

Back in 2002, Lopez and actor Ben Affleck were Hollywood's hottest couple. They split up a couple years after he inspired This Is Me...Then, but they rekindled their romance during the pandemic. They married in 2022, and that led to another round of songwriting inspiration for Lopez.

"I know some artists make music when they're tortured and heartbroken, but not me. I'm the opposite," she said.

This Is Me...Now features obvious odes to Affleck, like "Dear Ben, Part II" (the first part appeared on Lopez's 2002 album) and "Midnight Trip to Vegas," the site of their wedding. Lopez says her collaborators and she "wrote that the minute I came back from that weekend."

Jennifer Lopez is also offering what she says is a largely self-financed film, This Is Me...Now: A Love Story — sort of an extended music video in which she performs these new songs with the dance moves that first made her famous. Between the videos there's a recurring storyline: J-Lo as a hopeless romantic.

"It's not exactly an autobiography about my life," she explained. "I do get very vulnerable in it. I do use experiences from my own life that inspire the story."

That exposure was difficult, she admits, after the way the press and the public reacted to her previous relationship with Affleck. The pair starred in two films together, Gigli and Jersey Girl, which were both roundly panned. And their shared mononym – Bennifer – became shorthand for the tabloids as they routinely invaded their relationship.

"There is a kind of a PTSD that I have from people, you know, beating you up and stuff in the media," Lopez said. "But I think I'm at a point in my life where I'm just too grown, and I have to follow my own instincts. Doing anything other than that usually turns out very badly."

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Leila Fadel
Leila Fadel is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Lilly Quiroz
Lilly Quiroz (she/her/ella) is an associate producer for Morning Edition and Up First. She also occasionally reports from the field and takes NPR listeners on the road with her.
Phil Harrell
Phil Harrell is a producer with Morning Edition, NPR's award-winning newsmagazine. He has been at NPR since 1999.