Jennifer Lopez is back on screen in What to Expect when you are expecting for the first time since 2010’s The Back-up Plan. Lopez is simply one star in the superstar cast that includes onscreen expectant moms Cameron Diaz, Brooklyn Decker, Anna Kendrick and Elizabeth Banks. Lopez talks to Amigos del Español about the experience of making the movie and how the mother of young twins found it hit especially close to home. A proud Latina of her Spanish roots the actress is fluent in Spanish and wants to educate her kids in both languages, English and Spanish. (Note from the editor: This interview was done just before Lopez announced her departure from "American Idol.")
Q: You are a great judge in American Idol. How do you encourage the participants in the show?
A: And as far as mentoring them through the process, yeah, we try to give them advice as we would want it to be given to us. That’s how I always deliver what I’m saying. I want to do it in a way where they hear me. At the same time, you know, there’s nothing wrong with a little tough love. But there’s nothing wrong with a little encouragement either and a little bit of, you know, kind of making them feel great at the same time. So we all have our own styles and personalities in how we do that, but at the end of the day, we are trying to get them through to be the winner no matter what we say to them.
Q: Jen, I know you feel particularly strong about this.
A: But that’s the thing about this journey is that we can feel that when we first see them, and it’s just how the pressure of the competition and the grueling kind of pace of it and who comes through. And you are going to have to see how he fares through it just as you’ll see how everybody else fares through it. I mean, that was my initial reaction in that moment. Like he said, I called it as I saw it in that moment. But, at the end of the day, you never know what’s going to happen, and that’s what’s great about watching the whole season.
Q: Are you looking to help singers in the Spanish world as well, maybe composers?
A: Yeah, we’re working on a show called Que Viva. Splitting the time, it’s worked out well. It’s worked out well. I’m actually producing that show, so I have a little bit more leeway on when I do things and when I don’t. And now that we’re more into the live part of IDOL coming up, it’s only two days a week, so we’re going to have time to work on both at the same time. It’s an exciting project. I’m really, really excited about it. I want to help Spanish singers and composers to find their place and to hear their voices.
Q: Do you speak Spanish?
A: Yes I do. I feel very proud of my Spanish roots. As a Latina, as an actress, as a producer I love when I see our culture represented in movies, or in plays. We have a wonderful culture to offer, our history; we need to share that with the world.
Q: How important is for you that your kids speak Spanish?
A: Very, very important. I want my kids not just to speak in Spanish but to know the culture of their parents. We come from a rich and vast culture and I want to educate my kids knowing their heritage.
Q: How do you manage to raise your two kids with your busy schedule? They’re so little. How do you manage to do all that?
A: They are so little and cute. They you know, it’s a juggling act. Just like any, you know, single mom, it’s just balancing everything out and making sure that they’re okay. They come first, though. They come first. I was just thinking it was so funny because I sat down to look at my schedule for the next few months with my manager, and I was like, Okay. This, this, and this I’m doing with the kids at this time. And, you know, that goes first. And then everybody works around that. You know what I mean? And that’s how we do it. That’s how we do it so they feel loved, happy, and like what they are, the most important thing in my life. I’m not gonna lie. I’ve been rehearsing for my Tour, doing American Idol, promoting the movie; it’s a lot of stuff, the kids... (Laughing) But I don’t know, I just feel really in the zone. I feel good about everything, I feel everything is going so well, and I feel really blessed. I do.
Q: What do you think now about adopting after doing What to expect when you are expecting?
A: It’s funny because before the movie, I never really thought about adoption at all. I just always wanted to have my own baby and I was so focused on that, it took me a while to have my own. But after the film and during the making of the film, when I held those two little Ethiopian twins, I fell in love instantly and it really occurred to me, I can see how somebody can do this, how it is so easy to embrace a child who has nothing. It’s a really a beautiful selfless act of love, and it’s something that you go, 'Okay, I understand these feelings. I get this. I know how this happens.
Q: Your kids are a little older, but did it make you want to have more kids?
A: Yeah, it would be a blessing, but right now I’m just focused on doing it right with those two and I’ve got my hands full!
Q: Were there any surprises that you had either giving birth? What do you think about labor now?
A: I had a C section, but my sister gave birth six months later - we got pregnant around the same time - and she asked me to be in the delivery room with her. I was like, ‘Wow! There was a part of me that, because I had twins and that was recommended for me to have a C section, and there was a part of me that had thought I didn’t get to do it the way that everybody else does. But when I saw my sister pushing that baby out, I was like, maybe this was all right! Maybe this was a better out. So, that was an experience.
Q: What did you learn from reading this book?
A: Well, I found the book to be so incredibly accurate while I was pregnant and, honestly, I just see why everybody has this book and why it’s the first thing that you get when you find out that you’re pregnant because it just takes you through everything. And when you get pregnant, it’s the type of thing, like everybody’s talked about your whole life, but you know nothing about it when it’s happening to you. And this book helps you to not freak out, like, this is happening. You are feeling this way. This is what’s happening inside your body right now and this is where you should be. It kind of just helps you to calm down as an expectant mom. It helps you to know that it’s normal. Like, if you are having a normal pregnancy, this is what’s happening. I even remember after reading the book, because I remember sitting in my bed with these twins and I had a C section so I was obviously in a lot of pain and I get like this sometimes and I’m like, no painkillers because I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and I’m like, no, I’m not going to take the painkillers. But I am going crazy from the pain and I want to hold the babies, but I can’t because it hurts too much. And so I have this baby nurse helping out and I say to Marc at the time, I go, the babies don’t love me. They don’t love me, and they’re not going to know me and they’re going to love the nurse, and I start crying and the whole thing. And he’s like, the babies love you, trust me! They don’t even know anything yet. I’m like, no, I’m their mother, I should be holding them! And I open the book, and it was on this specific day that you get this hormone drop and it’s the tenth day and it’s called 'The Baby Blues,' and I was like [talking fast], That’s happening to me! That’s what’s happening to me right now! And it made it so much better, because really you do really feel out of sorts and you don’t know what’s going on. And so in that sense, it’s just a great tool book, everything, friend, in that moment.
Q: What is your philosophy as a single working mother, and how are you so apparently successful?
A: (Laughing) Apparently. Well, first, all you do really care about is not messing up the baby part. I just want them to be okay, and so that comes first for me and then everything else falls into line after that. That’s my philosophy. So as long as that is kind of working in the right way, then I can dedicate whatever time I need to dedicate to my career. And I just take it one day at a time. I have a lot of help and I have a lot of great people in my life, who help in all those areas in work and at home. I have a great family, so all together we do it. It takes a village. And it’s just like any single working mom’s plight, that there is the guilt that comes along with it. You leave and they are like, don’t go to work mommy. Again?, and you are like, Yep, almost every day. (Laughing) So, you know, it’s just that thing, it’s a juggling act and you do the best you can and say no when you have to say no.
Q: During the pregnancy, what scared you the most or surprised you the most? Did your feet get bigger?
A: Oh yeah, that’s horrible, I know. It happened to me. I was like, 'What am I going to do with all these great shoes?' But it does go back, almost. It’s just like your ribs. I used to fit into the sample size. They only had to open up the hips a little bit for me, but up here, I was like, 'Hmm, get in here,' just like the models. But now my ribs opened up a little, and your body does change. But as far as what scared me, I had a real ideal pregnancy. My pregnancy was like the Brooklyn Decker pregnancy. I was on tour until I was six and a half months pregnant and I didn’t really blow up until I was like eight and a half months with the nose, the whole thing, ugly, and the ankles and everything, but I wasn’t really scared. I remember having one moment of panic sitting in the living room, just sitting there, and I think it just hit me that I was going to be responsible for two other human beings, and just for one second, just for like boom, like a wave, and then it went away. But the realization in your subconscious is there, but then it hits you again when they start talking. Like, 'Oh my God! I have to control this somehow!' You can’t do this, you can’t do that, but I just had a really great time - and I still am. You know when you have kids, every day is like, they just bring so much joy and happiness to your life, they just bring you right back down to earth. But I was on tour, the song starts and I was like, 'Anybody know the lyrics to this song? Laughing I totally forgot the lyrics to my own song. I was like, 'This is bad,' but then I was like, 'I’m pregnant, who cares?' And I look back at my band and I’m like, Anybody? They didn’t know if I was just having a moment, and I was like, 'I really just don’t know the words!' But you do, you get baby brain.
Q: At what point in your career did you realize romantic comedies were for you?
A: From very early in my career I’ve always loved romantic comedies. I’m a bit of a romantic - I don’t know if you’ve noticed - and I am a little bit funny...maybe you haven’t noticed. But I do, I just love romantic comedies; I always have. I’ve been a fan. What movie would I rather watch than any other movie in the world is a romantic comedy. I just love them, I love them, I love the romance, I love the comedy, I love all of it. And it comes super natural to me - I don’t know why. It just does. It’s who I am.
Q: Do you have a favorite of all time?
A: Yes. When Harry Met Sally.
Q: Jennifer, have you signed on for next year’s American Idol?
A: I have not signed on yet, no.
Q: But you are going to do it?
A: We usually do that later on, but I’m not sure.
(c) America Reads Spanish