Jennifer Lopez is following in her parents’ footsteps and empowering a new generation of Hispanics.
Talking to Today show on Tuesday, in an interview that PEOPLE exclusively teased on Monday night, Lopez, 53, was candid about her Hispanic heritage and the efforts she makes to help Latino entrepreneurs.
In June, the Grammy Award nominee announced her partnership with nonprofit microfinance organization Grameen America to provide $14 billion in loan capital for 600,000 Hispanic-owned small businesses by 2030, in addition to offering her mentorship to Hispanic women living below the federal poverty line. . .
“We’re changing lives,” she said on the NBC morning show. “We want to take a Latin American entrepreneur and empower them, give them an opportunity where there was none. This opportunity can change your life.”
Lopez continued, “For me, even in my own business, I was an artist who was making billions of dollars for other people and didn’t really realize it, just happy to be in the room. minute, I can make my own perfume, I can do it my way, I can own a part of this business.” ”
As for why her latinidad was so important to her expression as an artist, Lopez says it’s “just who I was.” She explained, “I think my mother and my family raised me to be proud of who I was, and so when I got into worlds like Hollywood where we weren’t represented at all, I almost felt like unicorn.”
“I’m Jennifer Lopez from the Bronx, my parents are Puerto Rican, and I’m Puerto Rican,” she recalls, saying early in her career, “I think it made me feel special.”
“I have to give credit to my parents for making me feel like I’m worth something and that I don’t need to be anything other than who I was,” Lopez. said.
New husband Ben Affleck has also been a source of support. TodayMorgan Radford of Morgan Radford noted that Affleck was on the sidelines of their gathering, watching lovingly. “[He was] looked at her with admiration, encouraged her, wished her all the best,” the interviewer said. “It was very, very nice.”
Knowing your worth was only part of the success that Lopez achieved. “I don’t have any formula for success, I learned that if you can follow your heart, you can be true to yourself and can work very hard,” she said on Today. “The difference between success and failure is not giving up, and I just didn’t give up.”
In Lopez’s June multibillion-dollar project announcement, she talked about her Latino pride. “Being Hispanic in this country has always been a source of pride for me. I am humbly and immensely grateful for the partnership with Grameen America,” she said in a statement. “We are creating pathways to employment and leadership opportunities.
“There is so much power in this community and we use it. This partnership will create equality, inclusion, and opportunity for Latin American women in business. It will change the fabric of America!” Lopez added.
Through her own charity, Limitless Labs, the initiative will also provide 6 million hours of financial training and education.
Lopez began her role as National Ambassador for Grameen at the Tribeca Film Festival, where she was accompanied by some of the program’s Latino entrepreneurs on the red carpet of the premiere of her Netflix documentary. Break.
Andrea Jung, President and CEO of Grameen America, championed their partnership with Hustlers actress, while emphasizing the organization’s commitment to addressing capacity gaps.
“Jennifer Lopez is a trailblazer who made a name for herself and advocates for Latino women to be educated, financially secure, and healthy,” she said. “Grameen America is the only organization with the national reach, reach, and proven model needed to place $14 billion in loan capital for aspiring businesswomen in Latin American communities.
“Together, we will shape entrepreneurship as a viable path to success for Latin American women who have historically been excluded from formal financial markets and are often excluded from economic opportunities,” Jung added.
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Lopez previously announced her Limitless Labs initiative in September in partnership with Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses program. The collaboration focused on supporting and empowering Hispanic businesswomen in her native Bronx.