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Jennifer
Lopez

She'd rather you weren't fooled by the rocks that she's got—but make no mistake, she's got plenty. Jennifer Lopez is the success story you could scarcely dream of: a young girl from the Bronx, growing up in the shadow of her sisters, determined to make it big. But big's not big enough for how Jenny From the Block has made it. Her story is the stuff of Hollywood fairy tales. And she's starred in a few of those, too. So what if there have been a few bombs—and dodgy fashion moments—along the way? She's bigger than all that, too.

Her path: like many a marquee idol of the golden age, chorus girl to starlet. In J. Lo's case, from Fly Girl (on In Living Color) to Hot Mama (happily married mother of two, and star of Gucci's first kidswear campaign). Along the way, there've been the hit singles and the chart-topping albums, the films both great (Selena, for which she became the first Latina actress to earn a cool million) and not so great (Money Train, with Wesley Snipes; Gigli, with then-boyfriend Ben Affleck). And, yes, the parade of then-boyfriends and then-fiancés—most famously Affleck, so visibly smitten that the paps dubbed the couple Bennifer. She's been a fashion designer (for Sweetface, her own label) and a fashion icon (embraced by Donatella Versace, the designer behind Lopez's biggest red-carpet moment ever, the emerald green, slit-up-and-down-to-there dress she wore to the Grammys in 2000).

Beauty regrets? She's had a few. There were years of dark liner and light lips, of a glow—the name, no coincidence, of her first fragrance—a shade too bright. But she's always had that face, that body, and of course, that booty. And now, like those choristers-turned-stars of yesteryear, she's settled into full-fledged glamour. The 41-year-old, who was named People magazine's Most Beautiful Woman in the World earlier this week, is dropping a new album (Love?, out next month) and doling out wisdom as a judge on American Idol, coaching the new young dreamers of the golden dream. Who better? She's one of the originals.

—Matthew Schneier

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