When television broadcaster Fox recently announced the upcoming 15th season of American Idol — to be broadcast next year — will be the last, the news was met with broad industry acceptance that it had ran its course.
Yet it seems the show’s star, judge Jennifer Lopez, is apparently still holding hope for the decision to be reversed.
“It is supposed to be the last season, I don’t know if that’s true,” she says, speaking from the world music festival Mawazine at the Moroccan capital of Rabat. “I love the show and I hope it goes on forever.”
Denial aside, you can understand Lopez’s reaction; the programme has been widely credited for reviving the 45-year-old’s stalling career ever since she joined its 10th season in 2011.
The resurgence in popularity, augmented with Lopez’s top-notch social-media strategy, resulted in a string of industry successes that looked remote five years ago.
She bounced back from the near career-ending 2007 album Brave with the next two releases, 2011's Love and 2013's A.K.A. topping the charts.
On the film front, she scored box office success with roles both real and animated, such as in the 2012 comedy-drama What to Expect When You're Expecting and the latest DreamWorks animated release, Home. The latter has already grossed more than $340 million (Dh1.2bn) since its American release in March.
Lopez hopes that midas touch can work in her latest venture, the new health and fitness brand and website BodyLab.com.
“Today I posted glute exercises,” she says, rather excitedly. “I just launched the new website, where I do give a lot of my exercise tips and share what I do know about keeping in shape.”
The tips Lopez offers in BodyLab seem slightly more grounded than those found in actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s much-maligned lifestyle website Goop.
Recipes include “fresh and simple salsa”, and “JLO’s Berry Good Smoothies”, while recommended workouts focus on the back, shoulder and the aforementioned posterior.
Lopez said BodyLab aims to puncture myths surrounding healthy living.
“At this age I really feel that beauty secrets are essentially all about living a good lifestyle,” she says.
“Thank God that since I was young – not that I am still not young, but when I was younger – I was always about eating right, getting my sleep and drinking lots of water. I don’t drink (alcohol), I don’t smoke and I never been much of party person, but more of a worker my whole life.”
Born in a gritty neighbourhood in the New York borough of The Bronx, Lopez credits her mother for instilling the tough work ethic that saw Lopez rise from a backing dancer for New Kids on The Block and Janet Jackson in the early 1990s to her present standing as a pop star and fashion icon.
“The Bronx is a place where you wouldn’t necessarily think you would have the brightest future. Especially for a Puerto Rican woman in the United States. But what was great for my upbringing was that I had a mum who told me that I could accomplish anything and to find my own passion,” she explains.
“And that’s what my advice has been to others: to find what your passion is and work very hard at it. That is really the secret to success. There is no magic wand or a secret passageway, that doesn’t exist. I work harder than the next person in my business and I won’t let up.”
A look at the calendar for the next 12 months confirms her outlook: as well as returning to American Idol next year, Lopez signed up for a 20-show residency at the Las Vegas resort Planet Hollywood to begin next January. Lopez is about to spend this summer shooting the new television cop drama Shades of Blue alongside Ray Liotta.
The 13-episode series, to premiere later this year, will star Lopez as Detective Harlee McCord, a single mother forced to become a police informant in an FBI anti-corruption investigation.
The series continues Lopez's knack for occasionally picking up screen roles as the feisty single mother, with other examples including romcoms Maid in Manhattan (2002) and The Back Up Plan (2010).
Lopez, a single mother of twins after her divorce from Latin singer Marc Anthony in 2012, says she identifies with these characters: “That is a big part of who I am, playing the protective mother.”
She describes parenting as a humbling experience.
“As a single mum I need a lot of help and it is a balancing act,” she says.
“It is really about knowing that kids come first and after that you can go on continuing whatever you think your life’s mission is. Which, for me, is to create, entertain and inspire. Hopefully I can create a good example for my kids at the same time. Nobody can do it alone. You do need help and I have family and friends who help me out as well.”
It is partly for this reason that she singles out her 2012 sold-out show at the Dubai’s Media City Amphitheatre as a favourite from her previous world tour.
With the date falling squarely on Thanksgiving Day, she took her children, mother and friends along for the ride.
“That was just a great moment,” she says.
“I mean, to celebrate Thanksgiving in Dubai, how many people get to do that? My mum and kids and all my loved ones were with me and that was a beautiful thing.”
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