Never enough for Lopez

It's been a long time since Jennifer Lopez was merely a dancer in a Janet Jackson video. These days she's a bigger star than her fellow singer, dominating the music and movie worlds with apparent ease.

It's been a long time since Jennifer Lopez was merely a dancer in a Janet Jackson video. These days she's a bigger star than her fellow singer, dominating the music and movie worlds with apparent ease.

Next month she's doing the pop star thing and continuing to improve her hip hop credentials by hooking up with rapper Nas for their bass-driven, sun-tinged collaboration I'm Gonna Be Alright.

It follows her smash hit Ain't It Funny, in which she teamed up with rapper Ja Rule for a barely disguised farewell to former love P Diddy.

Her music has been prolific in the past couple of years. The debut album, 1999's On The 6 was followed by J Lo in 2001 and her remix album J To Tha L-O quickly appeared this year. But Lopez says she plans to take her time on the next album which she's currently working on.

"The last two albums and the remix album were made quickly," she admits. "But with this one I'm going to take my time. I'm in search of something, I don't know exactly what it is yet, but I'm willing to take the time."

Whether she'll continue on her current trajectory as a hip-hop honey remains to be seen but in a surprise move she says she plans to record a duet with Elton John. "We've spoken about it and have a few ideas in mind," she says.

"Elton says he likes my music and I'm a big fan of him too."

So while fans might be waiting a while for Lopez's next album, they can console themselves with a plethora of film releases from the workaholic star.

Later this summer she plays a battered wife who turns the tables on her abusive husband in Enough.

During filming Lopez proved she's a woman of some mettle after leaving her co-star Bill Campbell nursing injuries.

Campbell, who plays her violent husband, was left with bruised ribs after filming a fight scene - the singer-actress studied the deadly martial art Krav Maga for the part.

Lopez says: "I trained for around six weeks before filming started and I carried on practising while we were making the movie. I had plenty of time to really learn that scene the way it needed to be.

"I've been athletic since I was little, so it was kind of about getting in the zone and knowing that I can protect myself and that I am a strong, able human being. It's almost an animal thing, it's about survival."

Lopez also plays it tough in her role in the forthcoming Gigli as a lesbian assassin opposite Ben Affleck. The star says her gay friends got very excited about the role.

"I just told them 'I'm going to play her like an average person'," she says. "I guess in a way I'm having my queer moment."

She was most recently in the headlines as a result of her break-up from husband of nine months Cris Judd.

It was revealed earlier this month that the couple had split amid rumours that she'd returned to her ex, rapper P Diddy.

The rumours were denied but more surfaced regarding her leading men. She was reported to have been "consoled" after the separation by Affleck before it was said that she was seeing Ralph Fiennes, her co-star in the modern-day Cinderella story The Chambermaid. But Fiennes's long-term girlfriend the actress Francesca Annis has laughed off the reports.

Lopez met Judd in November 2000 when he was a lowly backing dancer on her video for Love Don't Cost A Thing. They were engaged seven months later after Lopez broke up with P Diddy and wed last September.

Speculation is rife as to why Lopez split from her husband with some putting it down to Judd - who was described by Lopez's father as a "home person who gets tired of the spotlight" - and his inability to deal with living in the shadow of her superstar status. And it's a status Lopez reputedly revels in.

She earned her reputation as a diva bar none through occurrences such as turning up with an incredible 90 staff in tow when she appeared on BBC One's Parkinson and Top Of The Pops shows earlier in the year. But Lopez puts her reputation down to her hard work rather than an inflated opinion of herself.

"I know how much of it is bull and lies - fabricated stuff for entertainment purposes only. It's a shame they choose to put the word 'diva' on the person who probably works harder than anybody else. But I'm not complaining, I can handle it."

She can handle it so well in fact that being a pop star and movie star doesn't seem to be providing enough work for her. So to fill her spare time Lopez is also trying her hand at the fashion business.

In April she launched her own fashion range on the internet. Her sporty urban chic styles, co-designed with Tommy Hilfiger's brother Andy, aim to flatter women's bodies and hug the curves - a style Lopez herself made fashionable.

Her Sweetface fashion company is also going to target the teenage market with a J Lo collection and she is planning to join forces with the Lancaster Group to develop her own range of perfume. She puts her multi-tasking down to her upbringing.

"I think it's just how I came up, watching movies and musicals like any other American girl, you can see yourself as a movie star. But then I grew up in a very Latin family, listening to English and Spanish music.

"At the same time I grew up in an urban setting so I feel connected to the hip-hop community. I'm all those things and I think people accept me because it's organic."

(Jennifer Lopez's new single I'm Gonna Be Alright is released on Monday, July 1.)

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