“It was my fault that I was there to begin with,” the actress and singer continued. “It wasn’t written in the script. It just said, ‘Ramona finishes a final flourish,’ and then me and Destiny meet. I was like, ‘No. She’s like the big moneymaker at the club. She has to show why. We can’t say it, we have to do it. I have to dance on the pole. I have to show them. I have to go there.'”
Lopez, who has always been the driver’s seat of her career, recounts that when she first started, she was determine to book the lead in a romantic comedy. “Because I was Puerto Rican, Latina, I wanted to be in romantic comedies because I felt like all the women in romantic comedies always looked the same way. They were always white.”
“I am every girl,” Lopez continued. “I am a hopeless romantic. I am the single working woman. I remember thinking, ‘I need to be the lead in a romantic comedy. I need to do that. I have to do that.’ That’s one of the things I went for.” She led her first rom-com in 2001, starring with Matthew McConaughey in The Wedding Planner, and went on to major roles in Maid in Manhattan, Monster-in-Law and more.
Lopez also opened up about her experience with on-set harassment, mentioning a time when a director asked her to take her top off during a fitting. “I said no. I stood up for myself, but I remember being so panicked in the moment,” Lopez said. “There was a costume designer in the room with me, so another woman in the room with me. Luckily, little bit of the Bronx came out.”
“What’s happened now is a big lesson for all women. It’s like, no, these things are okay, these things are not okay, and it doesn’t matter what context it’s in, it’s never okay to feel uncomfortable. The light is on now, both in what feels comfortable and how to set boundaries but also in calling someone out.”
Lopez stars in Hustlers along with Constance Wu, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer and Lili Reinhart. The film is written and directed by Lorene Scafaria.
The full Actress Roundtable is set to air Jan. 12 on SundanceTV. Lopez appears on the panel along with Laura Dern (Little Women, Marriage Story), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story, Jojo Rabbit), Lupita Nyong’o (Us), Renée Zellweger (Judy) and Awkwafina (The Farewell).
Follow all the Oscar-season roundtables at THR.com/Roundtables.