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HomeEntertainmentBen Affleck inspired J.Lo's first album in a decade. She's using it...

Ben Affleck inspired J.Lo’s first album in a decade. She’s using it to poke fun at her romantic past

LOS ANGELES — Throughout her career, Jennifer Lopez has been hailed as an epochal, prolific and hard-working artist. One adjective not often associated with the pop icon-turned-actor and movie producer, however, is self-deprecating.

But as she readies to drop her first studio album in a decade, Lopez is performing a kind of fictionalized mea culpa about her past romantic relationships in “This is Me…Now: A Love Story,” hitting Prime Video Friday in tandem with the album’s release. Live Nation also announced Thursday that Lopez will embark on a 30-plus city tour beginning June 26 in Orlando, Florida.

The 65-minute musical film, which she self-financed, follows a hopeless romantic in search of love (Lopez) and the myriad ways she contends with repeated heartbreak, including visits to her therapist (played by Fat Joe) and sobbing through old romantic films. From a distance, a star-studded Zodiac council, played by Jane Fonda, Post Malone, Keke Palmer, Sofia Vergara and others, provide a sympathetic but mercilessly faultfinding commentary on her desperation for love, failed marriages (Lopez is on her fourth) — and rebounding relationships.

At 54, Lopez said her ninth studio album and its accompanying film were the result of a sudden burst of inspiration, a large part of which she attributes to her rekindled romance with and marriage to Ben Affleck.

Remarks have been edited for clarity and brevity.

LOPEZ: You know, it’s a scary thing whenever you start something new again. Even when I start a movie and I haven’t done a movie in a few months or a year or whatever. But this was really different because I hadn’t been inspired to really go into the studio and write a whole album for years. I did “Marry Me” a few years ago for the movie, but that was not a Jennifer Lopez album, not a J.Lo album. I just hadn’t been inspired at all.

So, to actually get inspiration was the kind of gift, the exciting thing, and wanting to go in there. And yes, I was nervous at first, but I went in there on the first day and I said, “This is the mission.” We made ‘This is me…Then’ 20 years ago, and we’re going to make ‘This Is Me…Now.’ This miracle has happened, a second chance. And I’d love to capture this moment in time the way that album captured that moment in time.

LOPEZ: Nobody wanted to make the project. There doesn’t seem to be a big appetite for musical projects from the powers that be these days, which is sad because I remember growing up and loving to see these music projects from my favorite artists, but they just don’t see it that way. I knew that it was going to be a big risk, but something was driving me to really get it done. I knew it was hard because it hadn’t been done before so it was hard to describe to people. When you see it, you’re like, “Oh yeah, I’ve never seen anything like this before” — I said, “When they see it, they’re going to get it.” And that’s what happened, thank God. It could have really turned out badly. And by the way, every day that’s how I felt, that this could really turn out badly. But I still stayed the course like the captain of the ship in the middle of the storm. It’s like “We really could die right now, but we’re going to keep going.”

LOPEZ: Yeah. You described it perfectly. It was a commentary on that. But it was also like everybody has that in their life, right? So, it’s like kind of the Greek chorus of your own life. You know, you have your friends, your family, your siblings, your co-workers, everybody commenting like, “Oh, she’s dating this person. Did you hear she broke up with that guy?” They’re always like telling you. “Why are you with this guy?” And they’re rooting for you. It’s not that they’re not rooting for you. And for me, it’s like the media and the world sometimes that are commenting. But I think it was a really kind of humorous way to do it but also be able to get those pieces of information in there, you know?

LOPEZ: Oh yeah. 100%. It’s made me doubt myself and really feel bad about myself at times. Made me feel like I wanted to quit at times. But at the end of the day, I feel like you kind of have to do this thing where you learn how to navigate it. You take the things that could be constructive about that and use it, and the rest you kind of just throw away as kind of like haterations or, you know, other things like that and just be like, “Whatever. I know who I am, I know what I want to do.” You know? And little by little, you know, as you get older and you get more mature and you have more experience, you start realizing more what’s real and what’s like just other people’s thoughts out here, right? And you get more confident in who you are, which is nice.

LOPEZ: Well, I think what people would kind of assume is that this (movie) is a story about that. But the truth is, the story is not about that. Really, the story is about your journey as a person, it’s about one person’s journey and what it takes to get from heartbreak back to love. Or a hopeless romantic’s journey in their search for love. I don’t like to talk too much about like, “Here’s what you’ll get from it.” I want everybody to get whatever they get from it. But at the end of the day, what I hope is that they’re entertained and that it gives them hope.

LOPEZ: I think as an artist, if you can’t be honest and vulnerable, then you’re really not doing your job right. It requires that. And not just in music, but in acting and in expressing yourself. You have to kind of bare a part of your soul. That’s part of it. And that’s not easy for people. For us humans, it’s not easy. But as an artist, you have to kind of overcome that fear and go, “You know what? I think what I want to say and what I want to express here is something that’s worthy to be expressed.”

LOPEZ: It wasn’t about like, “Here’s the right time to do this.” It was just, this is how it happened. The instinct and the creative impulse just hit me. I was just very inspired to do this. And it’s like, “Well, why put yourself out there?” Because that’s what I felt like doing. That’s what my heart was telling me to do. That’s what my creativity was telling me to do. And it would have been very easy to be kind of, you know, give it all up and go, “Okay, let’s not do this. It’s fine. Let’s not do this,” and think later, “I didn’t do that because I was scared.” I don’t know. I don’t want to be there. I don’t ever want to be there.

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