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Jennifer Lopez made VMA history as the first Latin star to receive the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award during Monday night’s ceremony.
Gracing the VMAs stage for the first time since 2001, Lopez performed a compilation of her greatest hits, including “On the Floor,” “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” “Booty,” “Dance Again” and her most recent single, “Dinero,” featuring DJ Khaled. Lopez also showcased her signature choreography.
During the performance, Lopez paid homage to her Bronx upbringing by performing alongside a mock New York subway while singing her hit single “Jenny From the Block.” Lopez also surprised the audience by bringing out one of her most famous collaborators from her two-decades-long music career, Ja Rule, for a mashup performance of their hits “I’m Real” and “Ain’t That Funny.”
Lopez’s boyfriend, former professional baseball player Alex Rodriguez, her mother and her two children were shown in the audience cheering for the singer.
While accepting her award, Lopez grew visibly emotional, explaining that she “grew up” watching MTV, so receiving the honor was a humbling experience. “It has been an incredibly journey of dreaming my wildest dreams and then watching them come true. Music, acting, performing, this career has always been kind of an obsession for me,” she said.
Lopez said she’s ignored the naysayers who have consistently preached that “you can only do one thing,” with her response always being “Why not?” Though she “forged her own path” and “made her own rules,” Lopez said that it wasn’t until receiving her “two little angels” that “everything changed” in her life.
“I knew I had to be better…go higher, be stronger than I ever had before. It was through that unconditional love that my career became clearer, and now today I stand stronger, better than ever.”
Apart from thanking her crew and music video directors, Lopez also took a moment to thank her longtime manager, Benny Medina for “20 years of fighting for me and loving me and believing in me.”
“I would not be here if it was not for you,” an emotional Lopez said.
She then thanked her mother, Lupe, whom she described as the “original dancing queen,” her father, sisters and Rodriguez, who she praised as being her “twin soul.” “We are like mirror images of each other. You make me realize that every day the sky is not the limit, the universe is infinity, and so is what we can accomplish together,” Lopez said to a teary-eyed Rodriguez.
In concluding her acceptance speech, Lopez expressed her gratitude to her “loyal” fans. “To the fans, you have touched my heart, my soul, and become a part of me. Loyalty is everything to me, and you guys have won me over forever.”
Apart from the prestigious honor, Lopez also won the award for best collaboration for “Dinero” with Cardi B. and DJ Khaled. She was nominated for best Latin song for the single as well.
MTV announced last month that the Latin superstar would be receiving this year’s top honor, with the singer-actress emotionally expressing her gratitude during a Facebook interview with Sway Calloway. The award celebrates Lopez’s robust career; she’s sold 80 million records worldwide while continuing a successful TV and film career. Lopez is also recognized as the first woman to have a No. 1 film and album in the same week with her 2001 rom-com The Wedding Planner and self-titled album J.Lo.
Lopez joined the likes of Justin Timberlake, Kanye West, Tom Petty, P!nk, Beyonce, Rihanna, Britney Spears and Janet Jackson as past recipients of the Vanguard Award.
She currently stars on and executive produces NBC’s Shades of Blue, as well as appearing as a judge on the NBC dance competition series World of Dance. Lopez next will be seen on the big screen in STX’s upcoming comedy Second Act, which also stars Leah Remini, Milo Ventimiglia and Vanessa Hudgens and is set to hit theaters Nov. 21.
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