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Jennifer Lopez on Her Career After Children: “My Whole Life Became Clearer In Every Way”

She’s living proof that slowing down doesn’t mean sacrificing your career.

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At last night’s MTV Video Music Awards, Jennifer Lopez accepted the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, an honor bestowed upon only the most iconic artists of our time (Rihanna, Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé, to name a few).

In her acceptance speech, Lopez painted a picture of her growth as a musician, actress, performer and mother. She admitted that for a while, her career was something of an obsession for her. People often told her to focus on one thing and that she was doing too much. But she “wrote her own rules,” and in pursuit of doing it all, she was always “working and working and working.”

Then, when her two children Max and Emme, whom she calls her little angels, were born, everything changed.

“I knew I had to be better. I knew I had to go higher, I knew I had to be stronger than I had been before,” she said while clutching her Vanguard Award. “It was through that unconditional love that my career, that my whole life, became clearer in every way.”

The narrative of modern-day motherhood is a complicated one. But at Thrive, we believe that motherhood doesn’t have to end your career or take you away from your children — which is why we’re so excited by Lopez’s words. Her experience shows that slowing down and prioritizing time for family can actually be a catalyst for career growth and unprecedented creativity.

Read the full transcript of the speech below:

“I’m not gonna take too much time. You know, I grew up on MTV. This is really a tremendous honor for me. It has been an incredible journey of dreaming my wildest dreams, and then kind of watching them come true.

Music, acting, performing, this career has always been kind of an obsession for me. When people have said, you know, ‘You’re doing too much. You can only do one thing,’ I always had it in my mind, I was always a person who was like, ‘Why not? Why not?’ So, I kind of had to to forge my own path, make my own rules. And I was obsessed like that, I liked it that way for a while. Just working and working and working.

But it wasn’t until I had two little angels come into my life, that everything changed. You know, I knew I had to be better. I knew I had to go higher, I knew I had to be stronger than I had been before. It was through that unconditional love that my career, that my whole life, became clearer in every way. And now, today, I stand here stronger and better than ever. So thank you, Max and 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.

There are so many people I gotta thank. For the last 20 years, my core people have been with me. These past few decades. My lovers, my dreamers, my friends, my family, who helped me to never lose focus. You have to stay focused. I have to say I love you, and I thank you, to Benny Medina. For 20 years! 20 years! Of fighting for me, and loving me. And believing in me. Every day since the day I played you that rickety demo of the first song I ever wrote. It would not be here if it wasn’t for you. Elaine Goldsmith Thomas, my three-eyed crow, my touchstone, my twin. You lift me up every day. I never want to imagine this journey without you. You are priceless to me.

I want to thank Tommy Mottola, and Corey Rooney. They taught me what it is to be an artist, to be a musician, what it is to be in a studio, to give everything that you have to music. I want to thank you for your love and support and even to this day, you are writing me today, both of you, you will never be forgotten to me. Thank you to everyone I work with, Kevin Huvane, Debbie, Tiana, Tabitha, Napoleon, Kyle, Kimbers, Kevin, Tiesley, Stevie, Macky, Beezy, my glam fam, Rob, Mariel, Scott, Chris, Tom. Jimmy, Tara, Natalie, all my dancers, my band, my whole crew backstage. Bruce, all of you. And to my girls, Anna, Lauren, Leah, Jay Ray, all of you. Thank you for this moment, MTV. And thank you, Bruce Gillmer, for believing in me.

I went to give a quick shout out to the directors who helped me to make all these videos. Francis Lawrence, are you out there? Stand up, Francis Lawrence. There you are. Dave Meyers, I know are you out there, too, Dave. Paul Hunter, Jessy Terrero, Joseph Camp, and so many others, thank you for your artistry, and collaboration. Thank you for listening to a little girl who had crazy ideas.

There is my mother, Lupe, the original dancing queen. Anybody who knows Lupe knows that that’s where I get my skill from. My father, my rock, daddy, David. My sisters, Linda and Leslie, for their unending love and support.

And Alex. You are like my twin soul. We are like mirror images of each other. My life is sweeter and better with you in it because you make me realize that every day, the sky is not the limit. The universe is infinite, and so is what we can accomplish together, with love and trust and understanding. There so much more to do and to experience, and there is nobody I would rather do it with, baby. You are my macho, and I love you.

And a special thank you to the fans, oh my God. You have touched my heart and my soul, and become a part of me. Loyalty is everything to me. Anybody who knows me knows that, you have won me over forever, thank you, I love you.”

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