How Jennifer Lopez helped pave the way for Latinas in Hollywood

The actress revealed how she earned her first paycheck

Jennifer Lopez walked, so other Latina actresses could run. The Hustlers star revealed in a new candid interview with Variety that she got turned down for starring roles early on in her career because of her ethnicity. “Maybe 30 years ago, it was very ‘Oh, you’re the Latin girl. You’ll do Spanish roles; you’ll play maids; you’ll only be limited to this little box,’” the 50 year old shared. “It’s about getting people in the business — the agents, the managers, the Tommy Mottolas of the world — to believe this girl can do more. But you have to prove yourself too.”


Jennifer Lopez talks impact of Selena on Latinas in HollywoodVIEW GALLERY

Jennifer Lopez earned $1 million for her role in Selena

The mom of two landed her breakout role at age 26 starring in the 1997 biopic film Selena. The movie marked the first time a Latina actress earned $1 million. "It was a Latin movie, starring a Latin girl, playing a Latin artist and a Latin director [Gregory Nava]. And it was like, ‘She’s worth this.’ It was a statement to the world," Jennifer said. “I was too young and didn’t know what the hell was going on,” she added. “It was great they offered me a million dollars. I feel like everyone was making a statement.” The triple threat noted that the movie “made the impact that it needed to make,” helping to pave the way for future Latinas in Hollywood like Eva Longoria and Jessica Alba.

MORE: Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, more pen letter of support to Latinx community

The “Jenny From the Block” singer has come a long way since earning her first paycheck at age ten. “I used to sweep the hair at a beauty salon and clean the sinks,” she revealed. “I just wanted my $10, to go do whatever I wanted with. And it was such a great feeling.” Fast-forward 40 years later, and the triple threat has achieved a successful career, releasing hits, embarking on tour, and starring in a number of films, including the upcoming drama Hustlers.

Jennifer Lopez talks impact of Selena on Latinas in HollywoodVIEW GALLERY

The triple threat is considering making her directorial debut

The actress is set to portray Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco in the film The Godmother. Aside from playing the lead role, Jennifer is also considering stepping behind the camera and making her directorial debut. “To star and direct is going to take a year or two out of my life,” she admitted. “I just need to be ready to do that.”

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“There are so many smart, talented women out there, in front of and behind the camera, and I think we’re at a point where our voices are not stifled as much,” Jennifer said. “Because of the #MeToo movement, it’s ‘We are equal, and we want to be treated that way.’ We’ve been making our own opportunities, and as you prove your worth and value to people, they can’t put you in a box. You hustle it into happening, right?” Right!

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