Exclusive: Jennifer Lopez on motherhood, 'The Boy Next Door' and being an eternal romantic

By Dagmar Dunlevy

There’s always plenty to catch up on when Hello! Canada sits down withJennifer Lopez. First, we want to hear the latest on her six-year-old twins, Max and Emme, with ex-husband Marc Anthony. (“They have very different personalities from me and each other,” she tells us.) Then there’s her career; between movies and music and her work as a judge on American Idol, Jennifer’s growing list of credits keeps fans like us on our toes.

Still, when we meet the multitalented star, 45, at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York City, we can’t resist turning the conversation to a completely different topic: dating. Last June, the “On the Floor” performer split from her boyfriend of almost three years, Casper Smart, which seems to have done little to dampen her belief in true love. When asked whether she currently considers herself a romantic, the mother of two says, “I am, yes,” before laughing, “You’ve known me long enough to know that!"

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Jennifer says that this year she has no plans other than focusing on herself. On the big screen, though, the actress is living out a tumultuous relationship as star of The Boy Next Door, which she also produced. Her character’s fleeting relationship with a younger man (played by Ryan Guzman) takes a dangerous turn in the suspenseful thriller, which also stars Kristin Chenoweth and John Corbett.

Jennifer laughs when asked what advice she’d give her on-camera alter ego about ending a troublesome affair. “Just be direct,” she says, adding, “My mom used to say, ‘Just pull off the Band-Aid!’”

Here, the effervescent actress reveals the key to her confidence in the spotlight and the skill she still hopes to master.

You play a teacher in The Boy Next Door. Before making it in Hollywood, had you ever thought of following your mom into the profession?
My mom and both of my sisters are [educators], so I grew up around a lot of teachers. I think I would be a good schoolteacher, but I don’t know what subject I would teach.

What was your best subject?
I remember being good at history at one point, but that was a long time ago. [ Smiles]

If you had the opportunity to be a student again, is there something you’d like to learn?
I would love to learn how to play instruments. I always wished I’d learned guitar or piano, something that gave me the basics for my music. I hate when I am around other musicians who know so much about it and I don’t. I have learned a lot over the years being in the music business and recording and such, but not as much as I would like to know.

You’re a producer on this film. What was that like?
You do everything when you are a producer. Instead of just being hired as an actress, you are just side-by-side with the director and the other producers [deciding] what this film is going to be. It’s a very fulfilling experience.

When we spoke last, you said you were enjoying this particular chapter in your life because it was truly “Jennifer time.” What does that entail?
It’s about having time at home with the kids, literally having time to not have to do anything. I am always juggling a lot of things, constantly. So “Jennifer time” is about just sitting, being calm and clearing my thoughts, doing things like taking a bath or just sitting outside and staring out into the sky! [ Laughs] It sounds silly and simple, but it’s true.

How do you clear your schedule to make that happen?
Having the opportunity to say no has been very empowering for me. That’s how I have learned to carve out time for what I need to feel good. Then I can be good for others.

You certainly deserve some time off given your workload. Do you still have your own clothing line?
Yes. The line that I designed for [U.S. department store] Kohl’s is a great creative outlet for me. It’s something that’s been very successful and fun for me to work on. I also love wearing my own clothes, as they’re more casual. But I wear other designers all the time.

You look as youthful and fit now as you did 20 years ago. What’s your secret?
To be honest, it’s about [taking] time for yourself. [That includes] time to do your workout, time to make good choices, time to work on yourself and your mind, body, spirit – all of it. Giving yourself a little bit of time for all of that stuff, so you are able to do all the tasks that we have to do every day.

Working out every day must be part of it, too.
That’s not true! [ Laughs] I was doing [celebrity trainer] Tracy Anderson’s method for a long time, and I will continue this year, then incorporate weight training. As you get older, you start losing a little muscle and you realize that you have to adjust. What worked for you when you were in your 20s doesn’t work for you when you are in your 40s. Everything is kind of evolving all the time, and I just try to keep up.

What accounts for your drive to succeed?
I just love what I do. I don’t think about time or when I am working and I just have a desire to be creative.

Were you always that way?
Yeah, I was always kind of one of those over-achievers. If I ran track, I ran track every day and if I was dancing, I danced every day. I was there early and I stayed late, that’s just in my nature. I like working hard. It makes me feel good, and I like getting better at things.

Do you see those same qualities in your children?
I find them both to be very loving and energetic and bright and joyful. They are very yin and yang. My daughter is very quiet and artistic. My son is very boisterous and energetic.

How much of yourself do you see in them?
I see myself in both of them a little bit, and I see their dad in them, too.

Do you have any advice for aspiring performers?
I think the most important message that I could ever put out there is to love yourself. I think a lot of people struggle with it. When we are little, we are taught to love others and take care of others and not ourselves. When we don’t think we have worth or value, we wind up making bad decisions. That’s where all the good starts, too, within each one of us.

It’s not always easy to put into practice. Did you struggle to build your confidence?
I had to learn that the hard way. It took me a long time, but I think that it happens when you start becoming aware of what is important and what you are doing wrong. You actually have patterns. [Sometimes] you’re wrong and not everybody else. It’s actually you! When you’re humble enough to realize that, you start wanting to make changes.

Did you set any goals for 2015?
I just want to be happy like everyone else, and to continue doing what I love to do. [ Smiles]

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