Jennifer Lopez opened up to People CHICA about stepping into the high heels of stripper Ramona, convincing Cardi B to make her big-screen debut, and fiancé Alex Rodriguez's reaction to her pole dancing scenes.
In the film Hustlers, now in theaters, Jennifer Lopez plays Ramona, a queen of pole dancing and a sexy “hurricane” that charms everyone she meets. “She knows exactly what she wants and she knows how to get it,” she tells People CHICA about her character, who can be heartless when she’s cheating rich men out of their money and maxing out the credit cards of Wall Street tycoons. Ramona’s complex character also humanizes strippers, though, as she is also a devout single mom who does homework with her daughter and shows tenderness and kindness in comforting her best friend Destiny (played by Constance Wu) at her grandmother’s funeral.
Lopez recently got teary-eyed when talking to Hoda Kotb about the great reviews the film has been getting. Will her role of Ramona land J.Lo her first Academy Award nomination? How does she feel about the Oscar buzz? “I feel good about that, I feel really happy. I worked really hard on the role,” she says. “We shot the movie in 29 days so it was a big challenge. We knew we had a lot to do. It was a big cast of all these amazing women and the pole dancing was also very challenging. For me, that was like an acrobatic skill that I had to learn from scratch.”
What does her fiancé Alex Rodriguez think of her hypnotizing dance skills? “Alex loved the whole pole dancing thing. The night of the premiere I was looking at him and I wasn’t sure,” she says of going to the Toronto International Film Festival with A-Rod. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this could either be the worst night of my life or the best night of my life! He could be really happy with it or not, but he loved it, he loved the movie.”
Did she get any pole-dancing advice from former stripper Cardi B? “When I talked to her about doing the movie, I was like, ‘I really think you need to be part of this film, you understand this in a way that is very natural to you.’ She said, ‘I haven’t done any movies.'” But J.Lo put the Dominican American rapper at ease and convinced her to make her acting debut as one of her co-workers at the club. “I was like, ‘You are going to be a natural at this, you can teach us stuff.’ I told her, ‘I’m learning to do the pole now and it’s really difficult,’ and she goes, ‘Oh, it took me years to learn.’ That made me feel better, because I thought, ‘I’m never going to be able to pull this off!'”
Working with an almost all-female and with director Lorene Scafaria was like a big party, she says. “When you get together with all your girls and you are doing something that you love, it was amazing. We have women producers, a woman director, women writers, women stars of the movie. It was awesome.”
The Nuyorican singer and actress — who recently celebrated her glorious 50th birthday with her world tour It’s My Party — seems to be enjoying the fruit of her labor. Sure, she played a wedding planner in one of her romantic comedies, but does she have time to get any of her own wedding planning done? J.Lo says she and A-Rod “haven’t set a date” for their big day yet and they are “not rushing,” but enjoying every second together!