Jennifer Lopez: It’s ‘insulting’ to think that women only want romantic-comedies

Sometimes I think about how Jennifer Lopez was snubbed for an Oscar nomination for Hustlers and I get mad all over again. Like… how did that happen? Be real – J.Lo was excellent in Hustlers, she put the film together, she produced it and it’s a film about working class minority women. That film deserved a lot more love. Anyway, I thought about all of that as I read J.Lo’s excellent Elle Magazine cover profile, one of many for Elle’s Women in Hollywood issue. This is not an interview where Jen talks about love or Ben Affleck – she’s talking about her business, what she’s learned throughout her professional life and what more there is to do. Some highlights:

She’s not interested in just producing rom-coms: “I want to tell the gamut of stories. Uplifting, empowering stories, and entertaining stories, and gangster movies. I want to do everything that men do. I want to do all of it.” She doesn’t like the notion that women only want to see love stories or romantic comedies. “I think that’s insulting.” Women, she points out, “have been leaders of countries. We have run empires; we have done all of these things throughout history, and we should tell all of those stories.”

The drive to do these things: “When people ask me, ‘How do I do this? How do I get into this?’ I think to myself, ‘You’re not going to do this.’ Because if you’re going to do this, there is a drive within you that will find a way and you don’t need anybody to tell you, ‘You should do this, or you should do that.’ That’s not how it goes. It’s just knocking on the wall and finding a way. When people ask that question, I go, ‘This person probably is looking for a shortcut.’ There is no one sure way to become an actor or start making music. People fall into it in different ways, in their own time.

She loves to mentor: “But I do like mentoring. I like sharing the experience that I have. When I work with younger actors and I see them banging their head up against the wall, really trying to make this moment work, it’s just like: The most important thing you can do right now is relax. Let’s just be, let’s just live. You start off and you have all of these ambitions: ‘I’m going to be the greatest actor of all time and I’m going to do this and I’m going to do that.’ You can and you will, but how you become that is to relax into it and understand that you know what you’re doing and that you’ve put in the work. The more relaxed, the more aware I can be, the better.”

Telling women’s stories: “People were laying the groundwork for this for a long time. It’s just that sometimes it takes time to move these mountains and these old ideas and paradigms and shift them to a place where there’s real change. We have been able to stand in our own power and say, We’re not going to be taken advantage of. We’re not just on the corners of life or on the outside of the stories. We are the stories.”

Learning as she went along: “One of those things was to be more particular with my choices. And 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. 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.’ 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.”

Working as a woman over the age of 50: “It has changed a lot, and I think it’s appropriate. As you get older and you have more experience, you become a richer human being and you have more to offer. The idea of, ‘There’s nothing really valuable about watching a woman over 30’ is so ridiculous, it’s the opposite of right. It just makes me laugh. People have realized that women just get sexier as they get older. They get more learned and more rich with character. All of that is very beautiful and attractive, and not just physically, but on the inside, the beauty that you gain as you get older, the wisdom you gain. I see myself working [as long as] I want to. I don’t know what that age is. It might be 70, it might be 80, it might be 90, I don’t know. But I know that it’s there for me if I want it and I want to create it. That has always been the mindset that I’ve had: to never let anybody put me in a box because of where I was born, where I’m from, what age I am, anything like that. Those boundaries don’t exist for me.”

[From Elle]

She’s right about wanting to see women over 30 on screen. Maybe I was always like that, but I never felt like “oh, I don’t want to watch older women.” It’s always been about the stories, and for so many years, Hollywood simply didn’t prioritize any female stories, much less stories involving women over the age of 30. I like what she says about rom-coms too – that she didn’t become a producer just to make rom-coms, that women can play leaders and gangsters and strippers and hustlers and everything else. I love that she scoffs at the rom-com paradox.

Photos courtesy of Backgrid, cover courtesy of Elle.

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39 Responses to “Jennifer Lopez: It’s ‘insulting’ to think that women only want romantic-comedies”

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  1. Selene says:

    As a fellow PRican, I already loved her, but this made me fall in love with her all over again.

    • AlpineWitch says:

      I always had some sort of soft spot for her but this interview sealed it.

      I like what she says about women over 30 and she’s also in my age bracket, I found myself nodding to everything she says up there.

  2. The Old Chick says:

    I love her! A lot. My fav movie genre is action. I’ve watched The Mother 3 times. Most good action movies I’ve watched heaps of times.

  3. Kaye says:

    Okay. I give up. I admit I’m late to the party, but I respect this woman. What took me so long?

    • It Really Is You, Not Me says:

      I’m right there with you. I love everything she said in this article. Late-to-the-party JLo fan here!

    • Concern Fae says:

      I’ve been a fan since her neo-noir days back in the 90s. Looked it up and Blood and Wine with Jack Nicholson would have been the first film I saw her in.

      It’s really interesting to see her have the insight that she should have gone for better films when she was younger. She had such a breakthrough with Out of Sight, but she followed it up with a string of bland mainstream fluff.

      So, yeah, I’m a fan, but also J-Lo’s gonna J-Lo. She’ll have a moment, but then take off in a new direction.

  4. Flowerlake says:

    Well said, both Jen and Kaiser.

    One of the most annoying things to me in film is when there is a good concept about a female character, but it has to be weighed down with a generic romance plot.

    I want to see more of that sports competition/action/interesting concept that made me want to watch the film. Not her pining over some guy or something equally boring.

    • Eurydice says:

      Omg, there are so many films I can’t watch anymore because they’re all about how a woman finds fulfillment by giving up her career for a husband and babies. But my biggest peeve is the Dumb Girlfriend/Wife, who keeps interrupting crisis situations – “Godzilla, Godzilla, Godzilla! When are we going to talk about us?!!”

      • NinaEllen says:

        Same! Die Hard is ruined for me now because I [finally] noticed the stupid trope about manly man being upset that his wifey is using HER OWN name … he proves he’s a real manly man so she goes back to his name. UGH. I’ve been married twice and never even considered changing my name. First time, my dad asked me “How is he allowing that?” I said, “I wouldn’t marry somebody who would have a problem with it.”

    • goofpuff says:

      So true! I hate the obligatory romance subplot with a cardboard guy character that adds nothing to the story. Just skip it. We don’t need it. We’re looking for real stories.

      The toxic people (movie watches and studio execs) out there angry when women are in movies without a man are insane. They can’t handle it. Look how they’ve attacked all those women.

      • Deering24 says:

        Just as insidious are characters like Twilight’s Bella Swan, who are complete voids on paper/screen. But young girls/women who feel insecure about themselves instantly hold them up as heroines, even though such characters are nothing but placeholders/wish-fulfillment. And it’s not just a syndrome centered around a dated franchise–it keeps cropping up across all genres and fan doms. When one points out how hopeless these characters are in terms of lacking intelligence, personality, or true uniqueness, certain fans see that lack as a bonus (“Oh, she doesn’t have to be brilliant, or ‘too pretty’ or a genius–” which is not what anyone is saying.)

  5. SAS says:

    This is great and she’s always been my favourite Jennifer. Maybe some people will interpret things in a Kim K “people don’t want to work anymore” way because that’s how they see JLo but I love these sound bites. She sounds like a bad ass.

    I am also upset all over again at the lack of Oscars love for Hustlers. I’m positive she/ the film would have had nominations if it was directed by a man.

    • kirk says:

      I loved Hustlers, the whole back story, concept, cast, story and production, and made sure I went to see it at the cinema 2x, probably the only time out to cinema that year since pandemic hit later on. Looooved the opening sequence with JLO absolutely kllling it on the pole (that bruised her legs).

  6. Eurydice says:

    I can’t say I like all of her work, but I’m very impressed by her determination and drive. And i love what she says about relaxing and having the confidence to rely on what you’ve learned – I struggle with that.

  7. Lia says:

    This interview was really good! I have to say I thought her performance in Hustlers was overhyped and never understood the Oscar hype for her (just fine) performance. I will say though that she deserves a lot of credit for putting the movie together and for her producing game in general.

  8. StillDouchesOfCambridge no says:

    Im not mad at the Hustlers snub because I didn’t really like that movie nor did I think she should win an oscar for dancing almost naked on a stripping pole. If she wins, let it be for something else than that please. but I do enjoy the great majority of her work and she works hard. She annoys me sometimes with her real life decisions, but about her work, she’s a total pro.

  9. Mimi says:

    I love every single word. I also like how introspective she is being about her past choices. go Jen!

  10. Thelma says:

    Great interview. Two things:

    My respect for her as a business woman and artist has grown tremendously over the years.

    She looks FABULOUS in that gold dress on the Elle cover.

  11. Kingston says:

    So is she dismissing the hunger that drives a young artiste who wants to be and do and have it “NOW?” feeling perhaps that if they dont seize the moment it will never come again? Because that is not so far from the truth, given how today, more than at any other time, there are so many options and so many pits to fall into and so many bad choices to be made by youngsters in that field.

    Surely she remembers what that felt like and was actually like? She was a very hungry artiste, with an inner fire and drive that was visible to all, so she should know that inner fire cant be quenched by some oldster telling you to slow down and relax. As a mentor, with the perfect vision of hindsight, isnt it best she gives them concrete ideas on how to channel that hunger/fire/drive?

    Because even tho, as a Latina, she was discriminated against, relative to her white counterparts, she must also acknowledge that she benefited from discrimination against her black counterparts.

    I wonder what, if any, pearls of wisdom she’s imparting to a young, hungry, black artiste?

  12. Robert Phillips says:

    Let me start out by saying I totally respect Jlo’s work ethic. And that I believe that women can accomplish anything. But the thing left out of the article is that people and especially women don’t show up for movies that aren’t rom-coms. No don’t jump on me for that statement. Movies are a business. And if you don’t make a profit you don’t stay in business. And yes I get that women directors aren’t given as many chances. But any new director isn’t really given that much of a chance. You get one. And you have to make it a huge success. And then you get another chance. And that has to be a huge success. That’s how it works. Gerwig is getting her chance now because of Barbie. But if her next movie isn’t a giant hit. She might not get one after that. So why doesn’t this article talk about that. You want women to make all these different types of movies. Then women have to show up to watch them.

    • North of Boston says:

      People DO show up for female led movies – Barbie is just one example. Not every female led film is a success, but not every male led film is a success either and yet they still get cranked out with no one claiming bro-flicks are box office poison and shouldn’t be made every time one doesn’t hit it big.

      This article describes a bit of the history, pattern of that playing out: films focusing of female characters or written, directed by women that do well are considered anomalies and have rarely led to more opportunities for more films, certainly not the level of opportunities that men see after achieving similar successes.

      Though the article is 10 years old, the situation hasn’t changed much.

      And the status quo in Hollywood has been, for years, that white male directors are given many more chances at bat, with bigger budgets than female directors. There was just an article here where Sophia Coppola talked about that very issue.

    • Brassy Rebel says:

      Historically, women have shown up for all types of films. They’ve had to since men wouldn’t go to “women’s pictures”. So if a woman’s significant other is a male, she’s going to end up going to a buddy pic, a male centered adventure film, or a thriller starring one or more men. I don’t know who started the myth that women only go to rom coms because it’s just that—myth. And, btw, there’s nothing wrong with a well made rom com, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with any film that centers women, although there are too few of those.

      • The Old Chick says:

        This comment is 14 hours too late but I agree BR. Nothing wrong with rom coms but I am not a fan of them. Over the last 30 years there might be 3 that I’d watch, if that. Action is my fav genre and I would watch any action movie with a female lead, because that’s what I want more of. I’d never go to the cinema and watch a rom com. Don’t think I ever have.

        To the person above, you’re wrong about women only going to rom coms, that’s absurd. But if women want to see women in movies as anything other than the hot side piece then they might have to go to a rom com, as in, that’s all they’re offered, not that’s all they want to see. Just because it’s a business, doesn’t mean it’s always right. I think the landscape is changing thankfully, due to more women directors /producers who actually do understand women.

  13. Nyro says:

    Female celebrity interviews are so much more interesting when boyfriends and husbands and clothes and makeup are left out of it.

  14. honeychild says:

    Seems like this was an excellent interview. I have come to respect JLo more as a performer and businesswoman over the last several years. I’ve read several of her recent interviews and she always comes across as smart, savvy and introspective. I look forward to her future projects.

  15. JaneS says:

    Says the woman who has made a string of rom-coms and goes from one relationship to another, married, what 4 times with 2 broken engagements? LOL
    I honestly have lost track of her personal life so my numbers might be wrong.

    I have never liked Ben A. never. Man-child. Gambler, cheater, bad full back tattoo getter.
    He is tall, I give him credit for that. But that is it.

    • Flamingo says:

      I loved The Cell and she deserved more credit for that work. I would say she should have been nomintated for an Oscar for that role over Hustlers. Which wasn’t as groundbreaking as I feel people try to make it to be.

  16. phlyfiremama says:

    The only movie of hers that I ever saw was The Cell. I would have to watch it again to see if it was just the visual effects and concept that impressed me or her acting. She is REALLY talented in so many ways, she doesn’t have to do it all. 🤷‍♂️

  17. Aurora says:

    Hustlers was an interesting story whose translation to film tasted like cardboard. As an actress, JLo has developed a one-dimensional way to portray tough women that I don’t find appealing. I don’t think she deserved any award for her acting in Hustlers, but indeed she must be praised for her work ethics and determination.

  18. Bambinaa says:

    Yes, I am confused by the praise for hustlers. It wasn’t Oscar worthy at all.
    Also it makes laugh when she’s described as ” minority ” when most of roles have been playing White women lol.

    Anyway, I do like her perspective on aging.

  19. paintergalpaintergal says:

    Hustlers was mediocre at best. She is a so-so entertainer with an incredibly nasally voice BUT she gets tops props for being a hustler and smart at business. Good on her.

    • Duoduoduo says:

      She’s very mediocre in both music and acting and a really big talker. She’s spoken poorly of other women before (Madonna and Goop) and Shirley Manson says she acts like she’s the Queen of Sheba. Performance feminist but hope she’s kinder towards other ladies now.