At Monday night’s MTV Video Music Awards ceremony, Jennifer Lopez became the first Latin artist to receive the VMAs’ highest honor: the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. And she proved herself more than worthy of the lifetime-achievement accolade, working the stage (and working that famous booty) with an electrifying, very GIF-able medley of her greatest Block-rockin’ hits.
Afterward, in her acceptance speech, the artist extolled the virtues of hard work and work-life balance — serving as a strong female role model for millions of MTV viewers and for her children, Max and Emme, watching from the audience at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
“It’s been said that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. But when someone incredibly talented works incredibly hard, you get the amazing career of Jennifer Lopez,” Video Vanguard Award presenter Shawn Mendes said. “Her journey has taken her from the Bronx, where she started dancing at the age of 5, to Hollywood red carpets and the top of the Billboard charts. … No matter how far she traveled, she never forgets where she came from or her loyal fans.”
“Music, acting, performing — this career has always been an obsession for me,” Lopez, the first woman ever to have a No. 1 movie and No. 1 album in the same week, then said at the podium. “When people said, ‘Are you doing too much? You can only do one thing,’ I always had it in my mind … I was a person who was like, ‘Why not? Why not?’ So, I had to force my own path, make my own rules. I was obsessed like that for awhile, working and working and working.
“It wasn’t until I had two little angels come into my life, that everything changed. I knew I had to be better. I knew I had to go higher and be stronger than I had been before. Unconditional love. It was through that unconditional love that my career, my whole life became clearer in every way. And now, today, I stand here stronger and better than ever. So thank you, Max and Emme. There is so much more to do, and I know in my heart that the future is even brighter than anything I could have accomplished up to now because of you.”
Lopez graciously thanked many others in her inner circle, including her longtime manager Benny Medina, veteran music executive Tommy Mottola, and the people who, oddly, rarely get acknowledged at the VMAs: her actual music video directors. Francis Lawrence, who lensed “Waiting for Tonight,” “Play,” “Jenny From the Block,” and “Get Right,” and has gone on to direct three Hunger Games movies and most recently Red Sparrow, got a special shout-out from J.Lo, who seemed delighted to spot him in the audience.
Last of all, the former Fly Girl thanked the fans who’ve been with her since the early days. “You have touched my heart and my soul, and become a part of me,” she gushed. “Loyalty is everything to me; anybody who knows me knows that. You have won me over forever. Thank you. I love you.”
Later in the show, Breakthrough Artist award recipient Cardi B, a new mom, also addressed the idea of “having it all” in her candid acceptance speech. “A couple of months ago, a lot of people were saying, ‘You are gambling your career. Are you about to have a baby? What are you doing?’” she revealed. “You know, I had a baby, I carried a baby. And I am still winning awards! I want to thank all of my fans, my family that supported me.”
The 2018 MTV Video Music Awards took place on Aug. 20 in New York City.
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