When it comes to Jennifer Lopez, I have deep love and loyalty.
It could be because we’re both Puerto Rican (and super loud and proud about it). Or because she’s from the Bronx, where my dad was born and my mom grew up, and where I spent a significant chunk of my childhood. Or because she’s one of three sisters in a close-knit family.
But mostly, I think it’s because she’s unapologetically open and honest about her situation, particularly when it comes to her struggles in life and career and love.
Regardless of the heartache and criticism she’s been through—and there’s been a lot—she continues to put herself out there. She continues to remain open to (and grateful for) love and opportunity. And in a world full of cynicism and negativity, that’s something to admire.
At last night’s MTV Movie & TV Awards, Lopez received The Generation Award and delivered an emotional thank you speech. But this was a different kind of thank you speech—one for anyone who’s ever been loved, hurt, doubted, and lied to, and still managed to get back up and keep fighting.
Her words left me in tears:
“I look at those movies and I see all the wonderful people that I’ve been blessed to know and to work with. You’re only as good as the people that you work with, and if you’re lucky, they make you better. And I have been very lucky in that regard. As an actor, I’m not any of the women that I’ve played, but there’s a part of what is deeply true to me in each one of those characters. And since you cannot create truth unless you’ve really lived it, I have a different kind of list of ‘thank yous’ tonight.
I want to thank all the people who gave me this life. I want to thank the people who gave me joy, and the ones who broke my heart. The ones who were true and the ones who lied to me. I want to thank true love, and I want to thank the way that I lied to myself, because that’s how I knew that I had to grow. I want to thank disappointment and failure for teaching me to be strong, and my children for teaching me to love.
I want to thank all the people who told me to my face, or when I wasn’t in the room, that I couldn’t do this. I really don’t think I could have done this without you. And I know I couldn’t have done it without the fans who saw the movies. You are the reason that I am here and that I have been here. And I love you.”