Jennifer Lopez’s Most Empowering Movie Roles, From a Hardworking Single Mom to Overcoming Abuse


It’s a no-brainer that Jennifer Lopez is a jack of all trades, proving she can drop catchy music, strut a fashion catwalk, be an entrepreneur and star on the small and big screens, to name a few of her talents. 

Whether she’s performing live, being a judge on a reality show or acting, Lopez has made sure to use her platform to empower and inspire her fans. In her latest movie Hustlers, she does just that. 

The movie, which earned more than $33 million at the U.S. box office during the opening weekend and stars Keke Palmer, Constance Wu, Lizzo, Cardi B and more, was inspired by a viral New York magazine article that follows former strip club employees who join together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients. Lopez’s nuanced performance as Ramona, a stripper/crime ringleader, is nothing short of an Oscar-worthy game-changer. Sure, she's on the wrong side of the law, but she's doing everything she can to provide a better life for her daughter.

In addition to Hustlers, check out other times Lopez sent an empowering message through acting.

A hardworking single mom in Maid in Manhattan

In 2002's Maid in Manhattan, Lopez portrayed Marisa Ventura, a hotel maid who falls in love with a high-profile politician. The romantic comedy highlights Marisa as a hardworking single mother who’s raising her 10-year-old son Ty. When he’s not in school, Marisa takes her son to work, where he spends time with her fellow colleagues.

A street-smart businesswoman in Second Act

Directed by Peter Segal and starring J.Lo, Leah Remini, and Vanessa Hudgens, Second Act raises some very important conversations about honesty, believing in yourself, adoption, a woman’s “biological clock” and, of course, second chances. Lopez plays the role of Maya Vargas, a supermarket assistant manager who wants a promotion on her 43rd birthday. Annoyed that she lost the job to a college-educated candidate, Mya quits her job to prove that street smarts are just as valuable as book smarts.

An aspiring Latin singer in Selena

Many people first discovered Lopez when she portrayed late Mexican-American singer Selena Quintanilla in the 1997 biographical drama Selena. The film follows the Queen of Tejano's life story from her humble beginnings to gaining international fame to her tragic death. In this movie, Lopez’s character sends a beautiful message of following your dreams no matter what.

Fighting for her rights in Hustlers

While recently promoting Hustlers on Good Morning America, Lopez said the overall meaning of the movie is to have control over your life. “This was a real labor of love,” she said on the show. “It took us a minute to get it made. The movie goes deeper than what you think it does. Being in those conversations is super exciting for me,” she adds, saying the empowering flick was entirely produced, edited and directed by women.

Overcoming domestic abuse in Enough

In the 2002 thriller Enough, based on the 1998 novel Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen, Lopez portrays Slim, a waitress who meets her husband at the restaurant she works at. The couple gets married and has a child named Gracie. The relationship turns abusive after Slim confronts her husband about infidelity. In Enough, the abused wife learns to fight back and overcome the toxic relationship.