Author: Kathleen Tracy
Table of Contents
Dancing out of the Bronx
Right Place, Right Time, Right Girl
First and Second Chances
One of the Family
Aboard the Money Train
The Big Time
Entering Selena Territory
Crossing the Cultural Divide
A "Vulnerable Powerhouse"
Jennifer Ties the Knot
Rough Times and Good Instincts
Jennifer Lopez spotlights the career and personal life of a celebrity riding the wave of our love affair for all
things Latin. Lopez first blazed into the spotlight when she starred in the film Selena. The role helped
catapult Lopez into a bona fide Hollywood star. Since then, she has starred in several films - including the
popular hit Anaconda and the modern noir flick Blood and Wine, and taken the music world by storm.
Success for Lopez has come at a personal price. The media magnet's every move and romance are
reported in breathless detail. This is partly because drama seems to follow Lopez wherever she goes. Her
short-lived marriage ended in divorce, a casualty of the pressures of stardom. The book delves into her
high-profile relationships with Sony music chief Tommy Mattola and rap impresario Sean A. Puffy Combs.
This biography also details Lopez's early years. Born and raised in the Bronx to a middle-class Catholic
family, Jennifer Lopez always had her sights set on stardom. She got her first break as a dancing "Fly
Girl" on the innovative series In Living Color, but even then it seemed a long shot for an actress of Latin
descent to ever be a leading lady. Lopez never doubted herself, only to prove the sceptics wrong.
To most people, "New York" means "Manhattan." But Manhattan, that bustling metropolitan nerve center,
is only one of the five districts, called boroughs, that make up New York City. Until 1989, each of these
boroughs — the other four being the Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Queens — was a separate
county. They were then incorporated to form New York City, but each has retained its own distinctive
personality.The Bronx, which is north of Queens and east of Manhattan, is a borough of contrasts.
Around the turn of the last century, immigrant families fresh from Europe and others from the tenements
of Manhattan's Lower East Side came to settle in the Bronx. They were entering a more stable, yet
upwardly mobile, community. Two of New York's most elegant neighborhoods, tree-lined Riverdale and
Fieldston, are located in the Bronx, and the borough boasts many parks, including the New York
Botanical Garden and the Wildlife Conservation Society, otherwise known as the Bronx Zoo.Then there is
the South Bronx. Anyone who saw the 1981 movie Fort Apache — The Bronx was presented with an
indelible visual image of urban blight. The film was a police drama set in the infamous South Bronx, and it
was named for what local police officers called the Forty-First Precinct station on Simpson Street. The
area was so rife with violence and crime that the Fort Apache police felt as if they'd been assigned to
work behind enemy lines. Although the film was fiction, it planted an image of the South Bronx as an
urban disaster area in the national consciousness.By the 1970s, the descendents of the immigrants who
had moved to the Bronx looking for a better life were fleeing the South Bronx for the suburbs, leaving
behind the poorer element of the population and a series of ghost neighborhoods. The Morrisania and
Mott Haven sections of the South Bronx were estimated to have lost 150,000 residents during the
decade. As more people left, arsonists, gangs, and drug dealers took over — in 1975 alone there were
over thirteen thousand fires set in one twelvesquare- mile area. With the economic base of the area so
badly eroded, the once-handsome neighborhoods degenerated into a giant ghetto.During his term as
president in the late 19708, Jimmy Carter made an infamous visit to Charlotte Street in the Bronx.
Camera crews accompanying the nation's chief executive broadcast shocking footage of a warlike zone
— burned-out buildings, abandoned neighborhoods, roving gangs of dead-eyed youths patrolling the
ravaged streets. The South Bronx, a disaster of national proportions, became synonymous with American
inner-city blight in general and offered a clear demonstration of the phenomenon called "white flight," the
large-scale exodus of white, middle-class families from cities to suburbs.It was here, in the Castle Hill
area of the South Bronx, that Jennifer Lopez was born, on July 24, 1970. While the problems of the area
could not be exaggerated, the people who stayed and called it home viewed it from a different
perspective. Frank Sinatra may have sung about Manhattan, "If I can make it there / I'll make it
anywhere," but the denizens of the South Bronx considered survival in this hostile environment to be the
true measure of success. As one area resident, Deborah Harris, noted, "The people that come from the
South Bronx hold it as a badge of honor. It means they're tough."That toughness and resiliency are at the
very core of who Jennifer Lopez is, and those qualities have informed her life every step of the way. So, in
order to understand her...
Kathleen Tracy is the author of Neve Campbell.