Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Top 10 Mamacitas - #1 JLo

by Debra Mares

I recently saw Jennifer Lopez perform at Staples Center in Los Angeles during her 2012 Dance Again World Tour.  I was forced to ask myself why I was so enamored by JLo, a superstar born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents.  Afterall, Gaby Ruiz, the main character in The Mamacita Murders comments in the first paragraph of the novel that, “Some say we all look the same, but my curves and dance moves may remind some jurors of Carmen Miranda, while others of Jennifer Lopez.” Yes, JLo’s choreography, stage sets, costume changes, dance moves, and singing was off the charts.  But there was something more I couldn’t immediately put my finger on as I watched her saunter around the stage in a skin tight body suit and belt out Jennie From the Block.  It didn’t take long to realize what it was -- JLo is one brave Mamacita.  

By 43 years old, she has lived out the American dream which makes for a perfect fairy tale.  She is living proof that with hard work and some luck, anything is possible including a $250 million net worth, a set of twins, her own Lopez Family Charity Foundation empowering women and children, a perfume line, a clothing line, seven albums which have sold 11.8 million copies in the U.S. and 70 million worldwide, and countless Grammy, Music, Billboard, Dance and Amnesty awards.  You name it and she’s either won it or done it.

What makes her a top Mamacita is that from a young age, JLo listened to her intuition of what her purpose in life was.  And she has always pursued it with fearlessness and strength.  While attending her last year of high school, JLo auditioned and was cast in My Little Girl.  She played Myra, a young woman at a center for at-risk girls.  After she filmed her role, JLo knew that she wanted to become a “famous movie star.”  So she shared her dream with her parents who told her it was a “really stupid” idea and that “no Latinos did that.”  Could you imagine if JLo tossed her dream to the waste side?

But instead, she forged ahead.  She defined her authentic-self and unleashed who she was at her core.  When I mentor young at-risk women, I encourage them to understand who they truly are before friends, family and society tells them who they are or who they should be.  Still today, JLo has the bravery to be true to her authentic-self.  She resigned from American Idol and announced she will be focusing on her film career.  She has stated, “I do miss doing films. I feel like the last two years with Idol, I've really, really focused on, you know, my music. ... It was all kind of very synergistic, it worked really well together. But (film) is something that I really loved, it's how I kind of started in this business, and it doesn't leave you. I am an actress, I need to do that, too.”  Heck, maybe she’ll even star as Gaby Ruiz in The Mamacita Murders movie some day.

It hasn’t been all happy endings for JLo.  She is going through her third divorce after splitting from New York City born Puerto Rican singer Marc Anthony.  But sometimes it’s the journey that provides us with the most meaning in life, not the endings.  JLo’s marriage to Marc Anthony produced a set of twins.  She honored her son and daughter during the concert, projecting home videos of them.  She commented that her children have helped her know true love.  And indeed children help us experience the purest form of love -- the unconditional kind. 

It saddened me to see a quote flash on the projector towards the end of JLo’s concert.  It stated, “I still believe in love” and I still want “a fairytale ending.”  It reminded me of a recent blog article I read, The myth of Psyche by Paulo Coelho.  Coelho writes, “Will we never be allowed to discover the face of love? It was necessary that many years passed below the bridge of my life, until I could understand that love is an act of faith in another person, and her face shall stay covered in mystery.”  Undeterred by failed relationships, JLo continues on her journey for love, constantly putting faith in another person.  This year, it’s her 25 year old former back up dancer and boyfriend, Casper Smart.  Hopefully JLo realizes it is in the journey and faith where we find love, not the fairy tale ending.

What do you think?  Does JLo deserve a seat on the Top 10 Mamacitas list?  Email me at and let me know.  

Stay tuned for the rest of the Top 10 Mamacitas.