J-Lo is one of the undisputed queens of romantic comedies, having starred in classics like Maid In Manhattan, The Wedding Planner, and Shall We Dance? But it turns out that her numerous forays into rom-coms had an important meaning behind them. And Jennifer Lopez's reason for starring in so many rom-coms reveals a career-long dedication to representation.
During the Hollywood Reporter's annual actress roundtable, published on Wednesday, Nov. 13, Lopez sat down with Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o, Renee Zellweger, Laura Dern, and Awkwafina to talk about the thrills and challenges of being an actor in Hollywood. As the topic of diversity was brought up, Lopez explained that her early desire to star in rom-coms was motivated by her goal to represent Latina and Puerto Rican women in films where they are rarely seen.
"When I first started, one of the things that I wanted to do, because I was Puerto Rican, Latina, was that I wanted to be in romantic comedies," she explained, "because I felt like all the women in romantic comedies always looked the same way, they were always white."
Lopez wanted to do her part to ensure that women of color were also seen as the "every girl" cast in those roles. "I am the hopeless romantic, I am the single working woman, I was those things," she said "And I remember thinking, I need to be the lead in a romantic comedy. And that's one of the things I went for and that's one of the things me and my agents talked about."
Nyong'o immediately agreed with Lopez's sentiment and expanded upon her thoughts. “That’s the thing — when the race of the person in the romantic comedy is not the point,” she said. “There are moments when the cultural group or the religious group or the national group is the subject matter, and there are moments when it’s not, and both are radical, you know?”
Nyong'o, of course, had her own experience similarly upending the stereotype of what a lead in a horror movie looks like with Us. "The family that we are following is representational of the all-American family," she said of Jordan Peele's hit film. "It is possible that we can see ourselves in the people who are different from us, from other cultures, other creeds," she added.