You can keep calling Jennifer Lopez by her birth name, but as far as “Jenny From the Block” is concerned, she’s Jennifer Lynn Affleck from now on, thank you very much. “People are still going to call me Jennifer Lopez. But my legal name will be Mrs. Affleck because we’re joined together. We’re husband and wife. I’m proud of that. I don’t think that’s a problem,” the actress/singer tells Vogue magazine in a Dec. cover story about her decision to take the last name of husband actor Ben Affleck after their wedding this summer.
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When the writer joked that given her boss status as dancer-turned-singer-turned-actress-turned-mogul and female empowerment icon, wouldn’t it be more appropriate for Batffleck to take her name? “No! It’s not traditional. It doesn’t have any romance to it,” said Lopez, 53. “It feels like it’s a power move, you know what I mean? I’m very much in control of my own life and destiny and feel empowered as a woman and as a person. I can understand that people have their feelings about it, and that’s okay, too. But if you want to know how I feel about it, I just feel like it’s romantic. It still carries tradition and romance to me, and maybe I’m just that kind of girl.”
The news about Lopez’s name-change slipped out in a fly-by moment near the top of the profile, when the writer noted that on the set of her upcoming Netflix sci-fi drama, Atlas, they spotted a green neon sign in her on-set private tent that was a gift from the crew which read “Mrs. Affleck.”
The story also touches on the walls Lopez has had to build around herself over the past quarter century after initially charging into the spotlight with a Jenny From the Bronx attitude that made her believe she could say or do anything. But after the torrent of racist and sexist blowback she endured during her first go-round with Affleck, 50 — which ended in 2004 with their broken-off engagement — Lopez said round two came with some well-earned wisdom.
“We were so young and so in love at that time, really very carefree, with no kids, no attachments. And we were just living our lives, being happy and out there,” she said of their two-year run from 2002-2004, which came after the end of her year-long second marriage to former back-up dancer Cris Judd. “It didn’t feel like we needed to hide from anybody or be real discreet. We were just living out loud, and it turned out to really bite us. There was a lot underneath the surface there, people not wanting us to be together, people thinking I wasn’t the right person for him.”
Because of the intense scrutiny, Lopez said she put up a kind of “force field” around herself, which caused her to become “very guarded because I realized that they will fillet you. I really wish I could say more. I used to be like that. I am like that. But I’ve also learned.” The reunion was not a surprise, certainly not to Lopez, who suggested to the writer that she’d always secretly kept a love light burning for the actor. Their second take seemingly kicked off when she got an email from Affleck shortly after her busted engagement to baseball player Alex Rodriguez was announced in March 2021 in which the Tender Bar star gave her a head’s up that he highly praised her in a quote for a magazine about his ex-love.
That reach-out began a slow-rolling back-and-forth that rekindled their relationship, in private, of course. “Obviously we weren’t trying to go out in public,” she said. “But I never shied away from the fact that for me, I always felt like there was a real love there, a true love there. People in my life know that he was a very, very special person in my life. When we reconnected, those feelings for me were still very real.”
Her 12-year trip back to Affleck had begun before the reach-out, though, following the 2012 dissolution of her 10-year marriage to singer Marc Anthony — with whom she shares twin children — when she released a few poorly selling albums and took a gig as a judge on American Idol to pay her bills. The job turned out to be a prescient move that helped revive her career, even as it made Lopez realize what she’d been missing.
“It was like, Oh! That’s all I had to do this whole time was be myself? Although it was a competition, it was a reality show,” she said of her first time keeping it real on TV. “Up until then we only had what the media was telling you about me. I loved meeting the kids because I so identified with their dreams — I just loved it. There were a lot of things that people saw through that show, but more than anything I think they saw my heart, that I was a cool, funny person, that I was a nice person. No matter how many awards shows you do or late-night talk show couches you sit on, people feel like you’re putting something on. With a reality show, you can’t hide behind a script or a four-minute interview. You’re out there.”
To be clear, Lopez wouldn’t recommend her twisted romantic path with Affleck for everyone. “Sometimes you outgrow each other, or you just grow differently. The two of us, we lost each other and found each other,” she explained of their unpredictable path. “Not to discredit anything in between that happened, because all those things were real too. All we’ve ever wanted was to kind of come to a place of peace in our lives where we really felt that type of love that you feel when you’re very young and wonder if you can have that again. Does it exist? Is it real? All those questions that I think everyone has. You go through all these relationships, and you’re searching and you’re connecting and you’re disconnecting with people, and you’re like, God, is this just what life is? Like a carousel, roller coaster, carnival ride? And then it settles. But the journey to that is the mystery for everybody.”
In a rare public statement, Affleck said that the way Lopez has stayed the same over the years is almost as important to him as how she’s changed and evolved in the past two decades. “There is something innately, magically kind and good and full of love at the heart of who Jennifer is. That’s exactly the person I remember from 20 years ago,” he said. “Maybe she sees all the changes she’s made, whereas when I see her, mostly I just see someone who has retained, against the odds, the thing about her that always made her the most incredible to me: a heart that seems boundless with love. She is my idea of the kind of person I want to be.”
The piece also notes that Lopez is working on her first new album in nearly a decade, an as-yet-untitled work that is described as a “kind of bookend to This is Me … Then,” the 2002 album she released during the early days of her first Affleck romance. The collection is described by Lopez as the “most honest” work she’s ever done, “kind of a culmination of who I am as a person and an artist. People think they know things about what happened to me along the way, the men I was with — but they really have no idea, and a lot of times they get it so wrong. There’s a part of me that was hiding a side of myself from everyone. And I feel like I’m at a place in my life, finally, where I have something to say about it.”
The tracks on the album, whose release date has not yet been revealed, are described as “plaintive, confessional songs, reflections on the trials of her past, upbeat jams celebrating love and sex.”
In the opening hour of the 2019 PBS series Country Music: A Film by Ken Burns, Dolly Parton offered a primer on the use of the much-maligned word “hillbilly.” “If you’re an outsider… and you’re saying it’s hillbilly music, because you don’t know any better, it’s almost like a racist remark,” she observed. “If we’re hillbillies, we’re proud of it. But you’re not allowed to say it if you don’t really […]
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