López was born in the Bronx, New York, on July 24, 1970 of Puerto
Rican parents. The daughter of a computer specialist and a kindergarten
teacher, Lopez always knew she wanted to be a performer. She started her
showbiz career as a dancer in stage musicals — most notably in a European
tour of Golden Musicals of Broadway and in a Japanese tour of Synchronicity
— and in various music videos. But it was when she won a national competition
of about two thousand contestants vying to become one of choreographer
Rosie Perez's "fly girl" dancers on Fox's In Living Color that Lopez
finally cracked into Hollywood.
After a couple of seasons spent shaking her booty during the commercial segues on In Living Color, Lopez got her shot at acting when a co-worker, whose husband was writing and producing a pilot called South Central for Fox, suggested her for a part. The show was practically over before it started, but it did pave the actress's way into two more short-lived series, Second Chances and Malibu Road. Lopez effectively brought her television career to an end in 1993, with a role as a heroic nurse in Nurses on the Line: The Crash of Flight 7; the siren call of the big screen could no longer be ignored. In 1995, Lopez appeared in Gregory Nava's critically acclaimed Mi Familia, a film that introduced the actress's talent to top filmmakers. In 1996, she beat out Ashley Judd and Lauren Holly for the supporting role of Robin Williams' teacher in the Francis Ford Coppola comedy Jack. Despite having previously worked with Nava on Mi Familia, Lopez was subjected to an intense auditioning process before she succeeded in landing the lead role in 1997's Selena.
Lopez was named one of People magazine's Fifty Most Beautiful People for 1997, and her first post-Selena project, Anaconda, was the film that finally knocked Jim Carrey's Liar Liar out of its holding pattern at the top spot in the spring box office rankings. 1997 certainly turned out to be a banner year for Lopez. She starred opposite Jack Nicholson in Bob Rafelson's well-received noir thriller Blood and Wine, and revisited the genre in the fall when she appeared opposite Sean Penn in Oliver Stone's U-Turn. Lopez beat out a bevy of A-list actresses to land the female lead in Steven Soderbergh's steamy 1998 crime film Out of Sight. For her next outing, Lopez got ant-imated, in the DreamWorks tale Antz. In June 1999, the former fly girl filed a musical chapter with the release of the Latin pop album On the 6, which achieved platinum status within two months.
Cirilo Toro Vargas
Published on the Internet: November 19, 2000.
Updated information: December 25, 2001.