Jennifer Lopez Exclusive: "I Can't Regret the Things I Did in the Past"

As Jennifer Lopez gears up for the next phase of her career, Latina Editor-in-Chief, Mimi Valdés, sat down with the icon in the spacious guest house of her and husband Marc Anthony’s French chateau–style home in Bel-Air, Calif. Lopez didn't hold back when discussing the realities of marriage, why she doesn't live with regrets, and which acting role should have earned her an Oscar. Read on for some of the juicy quotes:

On Her Feelings While Seeing Former Romantic Interests Featured in Her Work:

“Exposed? Vulnerable? Do I cringe? [Laughs] No, no, it’s a literal snapshot. Every one of my albums is very spot-on with who I was at the time. I’ve always been a person who is guided by my gut, my heart, and I love that about myself. I think the day I don’t do that is when I lose my way. I can’t regret the things I did in the past, like putting somebody in a video that I was with. Who cares? I think people relate to me because they know that I’m not being phony.”

Her Greatest Love Lesson:

“What people don’t talk about, which is interesting to me, is how you have to put as much work into your relationships as you do into anything else. We put so much into our careers, and I’m all for that, but there’s also a lot of work that goes into making a successful partnership and marriage. It’s not easy, and anybody who’s successful at it deserves a pat on the back. You’ve got to grow with each other; you’ve gotta bend over backwards for each other. It’s a lot of stuff. Women have to find a balance where you can stand on your own so you don’t lose your individual power. I can’t just become “us,” and I think women do that a lot—become his wife, his girlfriend.”

On Past Relationships:

I think I was very focused on what I was doing in my life at the time. No one tells you that you have to work so hard at it. There’s a certain notion of the fairy tale that you talk about in your head, like, “If this is not working, then it’s not working, we’re not meant to be together.” But you don’t find Prince Charming where everything is perfect—like you’re never gonna fight, you’re never gonna disagree, you’re never gonna have opposing points of view. That’s ridiculous, and it doesn’t exist. You get to a point where you say, “I need to work on myself—and if I love this person, I’m gonna work on myself, and if he loves me, he’s gonna work on himself.”

Marriage to Marc Anthony:

“That’s how I know that this relationship is worth it, because a lot of people walk away too easily. But to take that step and actually get married—and I’ve done it three times, and two times were, you know, not good for me or for them—I’m gonna take it seriously. We’re gonna go through hard times, but we’re gonna work through them, and that’s what we try to do. It’s easy to throw your hands up, but those things leave scars.” “Everything is great about my marriage. First and foremost, we love each other, truly love each other in a way that’s very deep and meaningful, not in a superficial sort of way. There’s a deep respect, admiration and love for each other. We honestly believe that we make each other better people…We force each other to be better, and I think in a relationship, that’s how it should be. You shouldn’t be with somebody if he makes you feel less than who you are.”

Why El Cantante was Oscar Worthy:

“I feel like I had that [Oscar worthy role] in El Cantante, but I don’t even think the academy members saw it. I feel like it’s their responsibility to do that, to see everything that’s out there, everything that could be great.” “Well, it is a little bit frustrating. It was funny; when the Oscars were on, I had just given birth on the 22nd, and the Oscars, I think, were a day or two later. I was sitting there with my twins—I couldn’t have been happier—but I was like, ‘How dope would it have been if I would’ve won the Oscar and been here in my hospital bed accepting the award?’ ‘Thank you so much! I just want to thank the academy!’ But we joked about it. It’s all good. Things will happen when they’re supposed to happen. I have the utmost faith and no doubt that it will one day, when and if it’s supposed to. You can’t get all crazy twisted over it.”

On Fame:

“Your world becomes smaller, so yeah, it is a weird reality. You stop doing things like having a key in your pocket, opening the door for yourself because you become so busy. All of a sudden, somebody takes that over for you. You do lose touch a little bit; anybody who says they don’t is a liar. Your life is not like a person who goes to work, opens their door, goes to the grocery store. I lived that life for 20-something years, and now my life is different, but I have my foot in both worlds. I have found myself lately saying it needs to be more simple. I can’t have all these people around, especially once you have children. I’ve been able to always keep a good perspective. I’ve never, thank God, gone completely off into the stratosphere. I’m not saying I haven’t had my moments [laughs], but I’m always able to come back.”

On the Future:

“The experience of living is very important for an artist, for somebody who has to express those emotions. I feel I’m about to leave my whole life behind and go to the next thing. I really mean that: Bye-bye, house; bye-bye, everything. Next thing, here I come. Let’s go. Maybe a year and a half ago, I wasn’t ready, but now I am. There’s no tentativeness, no doubt, no fear.