“I've always had dreams — the dreams have just gotten bigger," Jennifer Lopez tells W Magazine in its August issue. At the age of 18, though, she was having those dreams on the couch at her dance studio after being kicked out of her home by her mother.
Since then, she's racked up the accomplishments and accolades. Name a J.Lo song, like "Live It Up" — it's topped the Billboard Dance/Club Play chart. Name a product, like cellphones, perfumes, linens and clothing — she's sold it. Name a magazine, like People's Most Beautiful Women issue — she's been on the cover. And it's in her latest cover article that Jennifer recounts parts of her road to super-stardom, including the time she spent homeless:
Lopez moved out [of her parents' home] when she was 18 — 26 years ago. She had studied dance at the Ballet Hispanico and at the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club, and she wanted to pursue it as a career. “My mom and I butted heads,” Lopez told [W Magazine's Lynn Hirschberg] later over the phone from Los Angeles. “I didn't want to go to college — I wanted to try dance full-time. So she and I had a break. I started sleeping on the sofa in the dance studio. I was homeless, but I told her, 'This is what I have to do.' A few months later, I landed a job dancing in Europe. When I got back, I booked 'In Living Color.' I became a Fly Girl and moved to L.A. It all happened in a year.”
Earlier this year, the story of another Latina's passion for the arts and struggle with homelessness became a film that won Best Documentary Short at the 2013 Oscars. The film, "Inocente," depicts then-15-year-old Inocente Izucar's hardships as she refused to let her dream of becoming an artist die, even though she was a homeless undocumented immigrant for nine years.
While Jennifer's homelessness lasted only a few months, it can end up becoming a chronic struggle for many young people like Inocente. On any given night in 2012, it was estimated that 16 percent of all homeless people were chronically homeless. To learn more about the arts and homelessness, take action below.