Jennifer Lopez

The role model

As a kid growing up in the Bronx, I used to watch Jennifer Lopez from the wings. Several of us girls would hide in the folds of the curtains at the Boys & Girls Club to watch her perform. We were in awe of our neighborhood role model and phenom. When Jennifer left the Bronx to pursue her dreams, I would rush to finish my homework on Sunday to watch her on In Living Color. She made me believe that you could come from where we came from and achieve whatever you imagine is possible.

Jennifer Lopez is an iconic performer. She’s the first Latina actor to earn over $1 million for a film and the first woman to have a No. 1 album and a No. 1 movie in the same week. But she’s also a mother, an entrepreneur, an activist, a designer, a beauty icon, a philanthropist and a producer. She is an undeniable force and a powerful example—not just for women of color but for anyone who has been made to feel “other” and for everyone who carries the burden and the privilege of being a first. To me, no matter how successful she becomes, she will always be Jenny from our block. And I will always be a grateful witness to her journey.

Washington is an Emmy-nominated actor

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