One of the most enduring images of this year’s Super Bowl halftime show occurred just past the halfway mark: Jennifer Lopez hoisted herself above the ground, gripped a pole with her thighs and lay flat in the air, with only one hand holding on for support — a move that fans of her stripper-heist film, Hustlers, might know as “the tabletop.” Coming off of awards season buzz for her starring role in the 2019 movie, it seemed like the then-50-year-old multihyphenate was reminding the show’s estimated 103 million viewers that there wasn’t anything she couldn’t do.
In reality, Lopez had only recently decided to stop worrying about others’ expectations. “It really came to fruition for me when I got snubbed for an Oscar” that January, she says. “Because it did hurt. But I realized I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. Look at my life right now. All I do is try to do something more exciting, more creative and more impactful than I did last time.”
It’s an attitude that has defined this year’s Billboard Women in Music Icon from the start of her career, as a Fly Girl on In Living Color who dreamed of success in both music and film at a time when many industry gatekeepers believed women could only pick one. “Icons wind up changing the zeitgeist a little bit,” says Lopez. “They do something different than how anybody has ever done it. From the minute I started in this business, I wasn’t going to be put in a box.”