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Jennifer Lopez and Her New Leading Role to Help Kids

Working with Boys & Girls Clubs, the superstar and 'Idol' judge gives back to those who helped her as a teen.

Highs and Lows of JLo's Career

Lopez knows that the path to achieving those dreams can be rocky sometimes. Take last year, certainly one of emotional upheaval for her. She and singer Marc Anthony, father of their 4-year-old twins, Max and Emme, are in the process of getting divorced -- a private episode played out in the tabloids. But Lopez believes hard times can be just as important as success. "Life is a series of ups and downs," she says, and "if you have the self-esteem to get through the downs -- standing on your own and understanding that the present is not the future -- getting up and brushing off will make the ups that much better."

Lopez's professional life has never been more exciting. She stars in two upcoming movies, May's dramedy What to Expect When You're Expecting opposite Cameron Diaz, and the fall thriller Parker with Jason Statham. "Acting is one of my first loves and is incredibly inspiring," she says.

On the television front, in addition to Idol, Lopez is both executive producer and host of the FOX show ¡Q'Viva! The Chosen, which spots promising talent in Latin America. "It's been a profoundly rewarding experience for me," she says. "We have found some incredible singers, dancers, and performers, and hopefully this show will change some of their lives. That feels good."

The Maribel Foundation

Equally gratifying is her charity work: Lopez and her sister Lynda started The Maribel Foundation, which connects doctors with underserved communities. The first clinic opened in Puerto Rico last year, and another will start soon in Panama. "It's such a personal love project for me and Lynda," says Lopez. "When we became parents and our kids would be sick, we started thinking how lucky we are that it was possible to take care of them with good health care. There are so many parents in the world who do not have the same opportunity."

Parenthood, Lopez says, is her most important motivation. "My life is entirely different since Emme and Max have come into it. There is no greater love than being a mother. There is love, and then there is love." Despite her other commitments, "my kids and family come first," she insists. "As Emme and Max grow up, I want to share all of their experiences. They won't happen twice. Balance is a challenge sometimes, but staying focused on priorities is practical. This is not all about me."

These days, her favorite activity is walking in the park with her children. "To see what they see and hear what they say brings me so much joy." And she is beginning to pass on to her twins the most important lessons she has learned. "If I could teach them anything, it would be to love yourself," she says, before adding, "And don't be so hard on yourself. Life is generous with second chances."

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