— Jennifer Lopez, who’s gone from being a background dancer on “In Living Color” to one of the most successful women in the entertainment industry, now has another honor for her resume — the most beautiful woman in the world.
That award comes courtesy of People magazine and its annual Most Beautiful issue, which hits newsstands on April 15. It’s part of what looks to be a resurgent year for Lopez, who also has a hit single in “On the Floor,” a new album that will be available shortly, and a prominent role as a judge on “American Idol.”
“It’s exciting. It’s really exciting,” Lopez told TODAY on Wednesday. “Even when they told me I was kind of like … ohh … OK.”
This is far from Lopez’s first brush with this sort of thing. It’s her 11th time depicted in the Most Beautiful double issue, and the mother of 3-year-old twins, Max and Emme, hasn’t lost a step in her two decades as a TV and movie star and top-selling musician. To the contrary, she feels that she’s in a better place now to appreciate what she has accomplished.
“It feels really great. Ever since I had the babies and I took a little bit of time not working as much as I had all my life — it was a different thing for me," Lopez told Hoda Kotb and Willie Geist on TODAY. "Now to really get back into work and to have them as well, it kind of feels like it’s a complete package for the first time in my life and I’m able to enjoy it in a different way,” Lopez said. “I think that shows in my work and in everything that I’m doing.”
Far from being over the hill, the 41-year-old told People she looks and feels better than she did in her early 20s.
She told the magazine that she works hard to stay in top form. "The thing is, it's part of my job," Lopez told People. "I don't want anybody thinking it's easy. It does take time and it's hard work. HDTV wide-screen is nobody's friend!”
But it’s also notable that the curvaceous Lopez won the honor while avoiding the dangerously thin look that was trendy a few years ago. She and several other stars went public with their disapproval of the move toward thinner-looking models and conviction that they could never be a size 0. Her selection as Most Beautiful will please those who are more curvaceous than the typical fashion model, and also shows that it’s not just a young woman’s world. Lopez has proven that it’s possible to sustain her look over time.
Among the other big names on the Most Beautiful list are Jessica Alba, Beyonce and Zac Efron. In addition, People pays particular attention to stars involved with charities, highlighting those such as Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, whose appearance is more than matched by their philanthropy.
One new section for the magazine this year includes stars without makeup, which includes celebs ranging from Hayden Panettiere to Anne Heche to Angie Harmon to Maggie Q. Other subsets featured highlight the Year of the Bombshell, older stars who still have the power to stop hearts in Half Their Age, and Beautiful Minds such as Tatyana Ali, who went from “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” to Harvard to her current roles on “The Young and the Restless” and “Love That Girl.”
Though it doesn’t look it, Lopez has been a perennial part of the entertainment scene for two decades, starting with her stint as a Fly Girl on “In Living Color” from 1991 to 1993. After a supporting role in “Money Train,” her breakthrough role came a few years later, when she starred in “Selena” as the Tejano singer who was tragically killed by a fan. Lopez followed that with major roles in films such as “Out of Sight,” “The Wedding Planner,” “Maid in Manhattan” and “Monster in Law.”
Lopez has also been a fixture on the music scene since her 1999 debut with “On the 6.” Her hit singles include “If You Have My Love,” “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” and “Jenny from the Block.” She’s been nominated for a pair of Grammys and won three American Music Awards. In addition, she has her own clothing and perfume lines, and has been a fashion icon since she first came onto the scene.
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the star. Her personal life had its ups and downs, with two failed marriages and a couple of high-profile relationships that went sour before her current marriage with singer Marc Anthony. In 1999, Lopez was in a car with Sean “Puffy” Combs, who she was dating at the time, when he fled the scene after a nightclub shooting during which three bystanders were wounded. Combs was tried for illegal handgun possession and bribery. She later dated movie star Ben Affleck, which led to a painful breakup and the box-office flop “Gigli.”
But nothing has been able to keep her down for long, and this People magazine honor shows that her perseverance continues to pay off. She’s in the midst of a huge year, with the national platform of the “American Idol” audience and the sales from her new single getting her name and image back in heavy rotation. This magazine cover just marks another honor in what’s shaping up to be one of her best years ever.