It may be difficult to remember a time when Jennifer Lopez wasn’t a high-paid international superstar. But it wasn’t all that long ago when she had to convince Hollywood to give her a starring role in a romantic comedy.
“When I started, you know, I would always go in for what they would call, you know, the maid, the Rosie Perez-type role, the dishwasher, the this, the that,” she said recently in a conversation with her former agent, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, as part of Variety’s Power of Women Conversations, presented by Lifetime.
The virtual summit celebrated female executives, producers and actors who create content that inspires and promotes social good.
“I was like, ‘I don’t want to do that,'” Lopez recalled about the cliche roles she used to get offered. “And I had to kind of break out of that and convince somebody to put me in the first romantic comedy, which I think was ‘The Wedding Planner.'”
Once she was cast she remembers reactions going something like: “‘Oh, OK? Jennifer Lopez? Oh, alright.'”
She said executives were “buckling back” at her asking price and that Goldsmith-Thomas fought for her.
“I don’t know if people know this, that you were a Julia Roberts agent and you broke — you got her the $20 million salary, which broke the glass ceiling for women in the industry to make as much as men did,” Lopez said. “And for me, because I am the Latin woman who has made the most on a movie, as well. And you pushed just as hard for me as you did for anybody.”
Goldsmith-Thomas says she fought so hard partially because she was angered at the treatment Lopez was getting.
“I think that when you do more than one thing in this world, people marginalize you. Especially if you’re a woman. And especially if you’re a woman of color. And it infuriates me that they judge you harshly. ‘Well, if you say you can’t act and if you act, you can’t dance.’ And I think Streisand felt it as well, certainly in her time,” she said. “But I think you are uniquely judged for that. And it bothered me, and what was so impressive to me is that you went, ‘OK, I’ll show them.'”