How Three Hot Surfer Dudes Basically Invented the “Acai Bowl”

Acai Bowls Courtesy Sambazon

Trends come and go as frequently in food as they do in fashion. One day paleo’s the thing, then nutritionists are warning that a diet high in red meat and low in whole grains may lead the cancer. Experts tell us to shovel kale into our mouths by the metric ton, then we find out there are potentially lethal metals in it. But one little fruit that’s evaded the boom bust cycles of trends is the acai berry. It’s been on the radar for a while; Absolut even created an acai-flavored vodka back in 2010. Of course that’s not the healthiest way to consume this nutritionally-packed berry; that honor would go to the acai bowl, a smoothie made from the berry and other fruits topped with granola and banana slices. This was introduced to the States from Sambazon, a company producing and supplying ample amounts of acai-flavored products, from bowls to smoothies to juices.

We asked two of the founders of Sambazon, Ryan Black and Jeremy Black, about how they got into the acai business, why people should be eating acai bowls, and other uses for acai, like making jewelry.

How did you first learn about the acai berry?

Ryan Black: After an afternoon surf in Porto de Galinhas in the northeast of Brazil, my local friends took me to a little beach shack called Chiquita Bacana where I experienced my first acai bowl with bananas and granola. It was refreshing and energizing!

Jeremy Black: My brother and our good friend Skanda went to Brazil to celebrate the new millennium and while there they started eating acai every day—by the end of their trip they were inspired to start Sambazon to bring acai to the world.

 

What made you want to go into a business together?

Ryan Black: I always looked up to my brother’s intuition and integrity which are great qualities in a business partner. When Ed and I started the business we were fresh out of college and Jeremy was already a successful businessman so we poached him!

Jeremy Black: We felt like we could change the world by starting a business the follows a triple bottom line (social, environmental and financial).

 

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 Sambazon founders Ryan Black, Ed Skanda and Jeremy Black, courtesy Sambazon

 

Why do you think people should be eating acai bowls?

Ryan Black: acai is a fantastic source of whole food vegan nutrition with plant-based omega fat, fiber and antioxidants, three things that help your body run clean and healthy. Plus as a light meal it fills you up but doesn’t weigh you down. And if it is from Sambazon it directly protects Amazon biodiversity and supports Fair Trade certified, small family farmers.

Jeremy Black: They are good for you, they taste amazing, and they make you feel a lot better than most foods you eat.  That’s why they became so popular on the beaches of Brazil with athletes like surfers, volleyball players and jiu jitsu fighters.

 

What are some of the health benefits of acai?

Jeremy Black: Powerful antioxidants, like in blueberries, healthy omegas, like in olive oil, and low sugar. Antioxidants help fight free radicals which lead to premature aging. Good fats are important for blood and brain health.

 

How would you describe the flavor for the uninitiated?

Jeremy Black: Red wine and chocolate.

 

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Acai Bowls courtesy Sambazon 

 

What are some other uses for acai?

Jeremy Black: Like any fruit it can be used a million ways from juices and smoothies to ice creams and other desserts, savory sauces for cooking, supplement powders, energy drinks (our Amazon Energy is the best one out there if you haven’t tried it), beers (eel River), spirits (Veev, Çedilla), facial serums (Pangea Organics makes a great one), and the seeds make beautiful bracelets and necklaces.

 

What are some small changes people can make to their habits for a healthier lifestyle?

Jeremy Black: Understand that every purchase you make supports a business, and gives that business an order make more of what you just consumed. Basically you “vote with your dollar” every day. You eat a chicken from a factory farm, that farm will keep producing chickens in the grotesque ways you may have seen in movies like Food Inc. or Baraka. Your dollar is driving what’s happening in the world, so understand where your food, clothing and other resources are coming from and how they are affecting the people and the environment to produce what you consume. Be conscious about your capitalism.

Ryan Black: And eat an acai bowl or smoothie instead of a big lunch or dinner 🙂

 

 

The Indelible Iconography of Ryan McGinness

Ryan McGinness with his Limited Edition Bottle of Hennessy, Courtesy PMG

 

In the past few years, Western culture seems to have reverted to pre-lingual tendencies with the proliferation of pictographic communication. “Love” is download (1), “anger” is 160x160x35-pouting-face.png.pagespeed.ic.w1f9t-wRwM, “celebration” is 160x160x325-party-popper.png.pagespeed.ic.nlB_GieQDx, “pride” is 160x160x307-rainbow.png.pagespeed.ic.LZQTRvUOJh. For artist Ryan McGinness, this is nothing new.

“There’s something authoritative about signs and icons, and I wanted to subvert that,” he said, nestled in a corner at midtown steakhouse Quality Meats.

For years, McGinness has produced painting, sculpture and site-specific work frequently utilizing bold icons and bright colors, most recently his series of “black hole” paintings, which he calls a “subversive symbol of wealth and luxury”, and which grace a new limited edition bottle of Hennessy. The series of elegant black holes are juxtaposed with colorful Boschian imagery of people fucking skulls and committing autoerotic asphyxiation. But since the brand wants to communicate aspirational aspects, obviously, the bottle design is light on skull fucking. There is a twist, though: the layered, multi-colored filigrees coalescing in a black hole illuminate under a blacklight. “It made sense in the club environment,” he said.

Where is the subversion in corporate collaborations, though? “I knew everyone would be scrutinizing, ‘What’s going on?’ I knew that I wanted to communicate with aspirational qualities, but I don’t really like doing this and doing that, being disingenuous. But I was like, “Alcohol? Perfect.”

 

Hennessy

Limited Edition Bottle of Hennessy, Courtesy PMG

 

He’s built a bridge between himself and the brand, making sense of the collaboration in a Warholian vein, which is to be expected given the impact the Pope of Pop has had on his career. A fan since he was a child, he studied at Carnegie Mellon (Warhol’s alma mater) and interned as a curatorial assistant at the Warhol Museum. But, as he’s worked in the same tradition of Pop Art, he’s seen Warhol’s true intentions be obfuscated as we progress past his time. “A lot of the sarcasm and satire have been lost in recent years,” he lamented.

McGinness still holds out some humor and irony in his work, though. His Instagram, for example, skewers the platform; instead of behind-the-scenes photos or filtered pictures of sunsets that typically litter newsfeeds, each image he posts is a black circle with a cryptic quote or design in the center. Each dot, in actuality, is part of a halftone that makes up a black and white image of McGinness removing a white fright wig. The act is a Warholian, anti-artifice gesture, a removal of a disguise. “Warhol was all about being fake – he wore a costume. But this is genuine.”

 

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Untitled (Black Hole, Fluorescent Yellow), 2008, acrylic on linen, 72 in. dia. (182.9 cm dia.) exhibited with adhesive fluorescent vinyl on wall under black light via ryanmcginness.com

 

He’s also began work on a series of paintings inspired by metadata, wherein he depicts an original painting hanging on a studio wall. Similar to Thomas Struth’s photographs of paintings in museums, these meta-paintings are a new twist on authenticity and the reproduction of images.

When he needs a break from painting, he ventures across the street from his studio to Landmark Diner, one of the last remaining original diners in the city. A slice of down-to-earth Americana, it reflects the air of McGinness: not pretentious or haughty as is the typical demeanor of many artists (especially if they’re white, male and straight), friendly, warm and unobtrusively brilliant.

He chronicles his thoughts and ideas meticulously in a series of identical sketchbooks, and currently he’s up to over 200. “Ideas are stickier when you touch the piece of paper. I like making things.” It shows how personal his work really is, and what anyone would say about corporate collaborations, or how he’s not using Instagram correctly, doesn’t really matter to him in the end. He continued, looking down after taking a sip of Hennessy, “make work like nobody cares.”

Why Was Alexander Skarsgård Dressed In Drag Last Night?

Alexander Skarsgard
Alexander Skarsgård via Wikipedia 

 

At the San Francisco premiere of The Diary of a Teenage Girl last night, virile vampire Alexander Skarsgård ditched the requisite black or navy suit and donned something much more…fabulous. Serving up her best Farrah Fawcett realness, Skarsgård joined the rest of the cast in dressing in ’70s styles in honor of the movie’s era. Of course, decked out in a gold sequined gown, hoop earrings and hair for the gods, he took it one step further. And we couldn’t be happier.

There’s no info on why exactly Skarsgård decided to tuck, but E! speculates it was in honor of Peaches Christ, a legendary San Francisco drag queen who co-stars as a transvestite in The Diary of a Teenage Girl. Considering the venue, that seems entirely plausible. 

As spectacular as she looks, (no T, no shade) we think her jaw could have been contoured a bit more, and a gown with sleeves would have covered up those masculine guns…she’s not THAT fishy, unfortunately. But we can’t be too hard on a girl’s first time in drag.

Gaze on her sickening look below:

 

 

 

Naomi Campbell Cast in American Horror Story: Hotel; Take a Look Back at Her Guest Spots on ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Ugly Betty + More

Naomi Campbell via Wikipedia

As if American Horror Story: Hotel didn’t already fulfill our casting dreams with Chloe Sevigny, Cheyenne Jackson and Matt Bomer, they’ve added Naomi Campbell to the roster of guests this season. Going stiletto-to-stilleto with Lady Gaga and Angela Bassett, Campbell is set to play a fashion editor who pays the price for her savage critiques (we guess this means she’ll get murdered, but let’s hope she lasts a few episodes).

Is Campbell up to the task? She’s never exactly had the breakout roles of other supermodels, but she’s recently reentered acting with full-force on Fox’s Empire. This is after trying (unsuccessfully) to be a cross between Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks as host of The Face. In anticipation of what’s to come, take a look back at Naomi Campbell’s best roles.


Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 

We can’t get over how young she looks guest starring as posh girl Helen, nor can we get over her dancing with Will Smith.

Ugly Betty

Naomi joined then Elle creative Director Joe Zee in a cameo on Ugly Betty, playing a very fashionable softball game against Vanessa Williams. She struts out in wedge sneakers (because how else would a supermodel play sports?), but the highlight of the scene is when everyone ducked the second she whipped out her cell phone. She proved she does indeed have a sense of humor about herself.

Absolutely Fabulous

Naomi played herself in the cult British comedy, acting bored and over the gala she’s attending. At least we think this counts as acting…

Empire

Naomi returned to the small screen as sultry siren Camilla Marks on ‘Empire’. Let’s hope this gives us a taste of what she’ll be like on American Horror Story: Hotel.

Where to Get Turnt on Agave: The Best Tequila Bars in NYC

Hit up these NYC spots to get turnt on National Tequila Day.

 

Tequila is an oft-overlooked spirit, relegated to nearing-4am-last-ditch-effort to get wasted on shots before last call. The subtleties of different types of tequila, not usually tasted when it hits the back of your throat, should be celebrated on National Tequila Day. We rounded up the best tequila bars in NYC for you to experience the wonders of tequila (don’t worry, you’ll still get wasted). If that’s not enough, check out how George Clooney likes his tequila here.

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Los Feliz — For Getting Smashed with Class

With one of the most extensive tequila lists in the city, this is the place to go for agave connoisseurs. Pair with a ceviche flight and you have one of the classiest ways to get smashed on tequila.

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Photo: Los Feliz

Barrio Chino — For Inebriation on Infused Tequilas

A hip nexus of Latin and Chinese cultures, Barrio Chino is where the cool kids go for tequila. Do a shot of one of their infused tequilas (like jalapeno) or go balls to the wall with a margarita-full.

 

Tico’s Tequila Bar (underneath Tijuana Picnic)—For Getting Wasted Underground

Impresario Jon Neidich newly minted this Mexican disco bar beneath Tijuana Picnic. Grab dinner above and go below for an extensive list of tequila in a tucked-away trendy space.

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Photo: Tijuana Picnic

 

Mayahuel — For An Authentic Mezcal

With a huge selection of tequila and mezcal cocktails as well as cervezas, Mayahuel is dedicated to ensuring an authentic taste of tequila and its sisters.

 mayahuel

Photo: Mayahuel 

Agave — For Getting Turnt on Tequila The Tried-and-True Way

New York’s classic tequila bar and restaurant may be the only place you need to go today.

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Photo: Agave

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For more places to eat and drink right now in NYC, check out the BlackBook City Guides.

Alaska Thunderfuck on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Where to Eat in LA, and Why She Wants You to Listen to Her ‘Anus’

Alaska Thunderfuck 5000
All photos courtesy Producer Entertainment

 

RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant, theatre junkie, and space alien Alaska Thunderfuck 5000 just released one of the best dance albums of the year. Don’t believe us? Her debut album, titillatingly titled ‘Anus‘, shot to the number one spot on the iTunes Dance chart and number three on the Billboard dance chart. Now the performative provocateur will be in New York for the next week mounting The Gayest Show You’ve Ever Seen, a queer cabaret act at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. We spoke with Alaska right before she jumped on a plane from LA to NY to talk about the show, her album, and Caitlyn Jenner:

 

Hello?

Hieeeeee!

 

So, you’re back at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. Can you tell me a little bit about The Gayest Show You’ve Ever Seen?

It’s really gay. My best friend [Handsome] Jeremy and I have been doing cabaret shows for many years. One of the main things that attracts us to the music that we like is that it’s all pretty gay shit. So we decided to do a show that’s celebrating all these really gay things that we like.

 

What kind of really gay music is a part of it?

I asked a bunch of people what they thought the gayest music was and everyone has different answers. We have show tunes and Ethel Merman. I wanted to throw a Liberace reference into it. There’s a whole ‘Golden Girls’ segment, which is really fun.

 

Is there anything from your new album ‘Anus’ in the show?

Absolutely. What’s gayer than an album named ‘Anus’?

 

It’s been really well received. Are you really excited about that?

I am. It’s pretty really cool. I’m glad people are getting into it because I put a lot of work into it.

 

It really shows when you listen to it. It’s really heavy dance-electronic, which your fans would expect from you. But you incorporate some trap inspiration on “Gimme All Your Money” and then you have that gorgeous piano intro to “Nails” which is kind of a throwback. Was it important for you to show a wide range on your first album?

Yes, because I’m the type of person who likes to perform so many types of songs. I like to go from rapping and swearing to singing really sweet, sad ballads. I wanted to make some of my own music that did that. I really love making music videos. This way, the music all sounds different, so the videos are all different.

 

Your music videos are really incredible—very well produced, and, visually, very alluring. Can you talk a little bit about that process?

Music videos are currently my drug of choice because they’re really expensive but they’re really gratifying. It’s like giving birth to a child because you have all these people involved and you’re hoping and praying everything comes together and everything works. Then you wait—there’s this gestation period where they’re putting everything together and editing it, and color correcting and everything like that. Finally you get it and [southern belle accent] all the pain and torture is worth it.

Alaska Thunderfuck

I want to backtrack a little bit and ask: do you remember the first time you performed in drag?

Yes I do! I performed when Chi Chi LaRue came to Pittsburgh. She did a contest called the Fishbowl Contest. You didn’t know what you were going to perform until you got on stage and picked your song out of the fishbowl. The prize was $200 or something astronomical. All the major queens from Pittsburgh came out and I had never performed in drag before in my life. But I showed up and I picked “How Many Licks” by Lil Kim, which is a song that I knew really well. I ended up winning the contest. That was sort of when I was bit by the drag bug and I got addicted.

 

Then jump-cut to you infamously auditioning for RuPaul’s Drag Race every season it was on and then getting in on Season Five. Fifth time’s a charm?

I guess so. I’m glad I wasn’t on before that because I wouldn’t have looked right and I wouldn’t have been ready, and I don’t think the world would have been ready.

 

Did Alaska evolve during those years? Did you try each time harder and harder to impress RuPaul?

I think it just comes down to learning your craft and getting better at it. The more you do it, the better you become at it. I definitely needed that time to just do it – go out on stage, do my makeup a whole bunch of times, learn what looks good on camera. The audition process, every year, was really helpful. You get to take an inventory on tape each time of what you have. “This is where I’m at.” That’s why I always encourage younger queens to audition to say, “okay, this is where I’m at right now.” Doing that, I think helps you grow and move forward.

 

And you went on to excel that season, even with a type of drag that’s maybe a little different from the mainstream, maybe a little more like performance art. How would you define “drag” and your drag? I know you come from a tranimal tradition, correct?

Totally. Those are kind of the crazy, wild, scary drag queens like the queens of Trannyshack: Squeaky Blonde, Jer Ber Jones, Phaedra. All of these queens were my heroes. I went to Trannyshack when I was 22 when I lived in San Francisco. That was the spark that made say, “I want to be that”. I went back to Pittsburgh and that’s when the Chi Chi LaRue thing happened. That was the spark that made it so acceptable, and you’re telling a story by being on stage. I really loved that aspect to it. There weren’t any rules. I’ve always been theater. I went to school for theater and I did theater. I love acting and theater but there are very few roles for someone who is like me – who falls between two categories. In drag, there aren’t those rules and restrictions. That’s what attracted me to it.

 

You’re coming to New York soon, but you’re living in LA. What spots do you like going to in your neighborhood?

I live near Silver Lake – I live right near The Eagle which is really fun because they play gay porn on the TV. That’s always nice when you’re catching up with your friends. I also love My Vegan Gold because they have these amazing fake chicken nuggets. I don’t eat meat and they’re really good.

 

What do you think of the proliferation of gay and LGBT culture in the mainstream? Like, the Supreme Court decision and people like Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox, who are giving great visibility to the trans community.

I think it’s great. I think it’s a good thing. I think that we may have differences. Caitlyn Jenner is a Republican, so politically I think she might be at odds with a lot of people in the LGBT community. However, I think it’s great that she’s giving visibility to the transgender community because there are a lot of people who are on this journey and I think we all have to be a little more understanding and a little more sensitive. I think her having this huge visibility is moving things in the right direction.


Alaska Thunderfuck stars in The Gayest Show You’ve Ever Seen at the Laurie Beechman Theatre and her album ‘Anus’ is on sale now.

20 Years After Her Breakout Role in ‘CLUELESS’, We Examine Brittany Murphy’s Tragically Short Career

Brittany Murphy

This Sunday marks two decades since the world met the young, cherubic Brittany Murphy in one of the best teen comedies of all time.

From there, she catapulted to semi-stardom in a mix of comedies, dramas and thrillers, showing the world her range and skill as an actress before her untimely death in 2009. In honor of the anniversary of her breakout role, we looked back at six films that show what Hollywood lost.

 

Clueless — “You’re a virgin who can’t drive…”

Starring as the naive Tai Frasier in Amy Heckerling’s seminal teenage masterpiece, Murphy outshone Alicia Silverstone and Stacey Dash during a lot of the movie (maybe that’s why they ended up a fanatic vegan and right-wing nutcase, respectively.) Her charm was present in every scene, transforming a caricature into a character with each line, especially the deadpan, “You’re a virgin who can’t drive.”

Bonus points for her performance based on this:

Brittany-Murphy-Comments-On-Her-Insult-Scene-In-Clueless-During-An-Interview

8 Mile — “So, I hear you’re a real dope rapper…”

Playing the love interest of Eminem’s character in this hip-hop biopic, Murphy exhibited “hot desperation and calloused vulnerability” in the words of Peter Travers.

Girl, Interrupted — “That’s fucked up, Daisy!”

What could be better than seeing Murphy stash chicken carcasses underneath her bed in a psych ward? In this Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie film about a woman entering the world of a psychiatric hospital, Murphy rounds out the manic menagerie (with Clea DuVall and Elisabeth Moss) as a girl suffering bulimia and OCD.

Spun — “It’s weird, cause stuff happens and you don’t really notice it while it’s happening… life is sort of passing by.”

Perpetually tweaked out during Jonas Åkerlund’s exploration of the Oregon drug subculture, Murphy’s hyperactivity, deceitful depravity, and pole-dancing (yes, pole-dancing)  showed a grittier side to the actress.

 

Don’t Say a Word — “You want what they want, don’t you… I’ll never tell.”

The critics may have eviscerated Don’t Say a Word upon release, but Girl, Interrupted proved to be an amuse bouche signaling the levels of psychosis Murphy could display on screen in this psychological thriller. Alongside Michael Douglas as a psychiatrist whose daughter is kidnapped, Murphy plays the psych patient who holds the key to getting her back. A standard MacGuffin plot, we at least got some thrills and her iconic delivery of the line, “I’ll never tell.”

Uptown Girls – “I don’t see any grownups around here.”

Though she excelled in most of her dramatic roles, Murphy was a skilled comedienne, drawing comparisons from Roger Ebert to Lucille Ball during her career.  In Uptown Girls, as the nanny of uptight eight-year-old Ray (Dakota Fanning), Murphy flexes her funny bone, playing well off of the precocious Fanning.

Cara Delevingne Schools Vogue On Her Sexuality

Cara Delevingne
Cara Delevingne on the July 2015 Cover of Vogue

Cara Delevingne has no time for your bullshit. The model and actress  covered Vogue last month, and amidst the lines of a very revealing profile, writer Rob Haskell casually brushed off her relationship with St. Vincent, suggesting her bisexuality was just a phase. In yesterday’s New York Times, she set the record straight (no pun intended) stating,

“My sexuality is not a phase. I am who I am.”

Addressing it as direct and succinctly as Haskell (as well as her parents) dismissed it, the Paper Towns star had the perfect reaction to anyone policing her sexuality. Also, always a class act, she cleared the air by saying she found “nothing malicious” about the article at all. She’s just stating who she is.

Cara Delevingne is a sublime model and actress with great popularity, especially amongst young adults, which is why it’s important she’s setting a good paradigm for bisexuals, who are constantly under suspicion.

Why everyone polices bisexuality is beyond me; in a culture that’s seeing so much more understanding and policy on LGBT rights, we still treat the “B” with some skepticism and content, probably because it challenges straight culture’s binary thinking moreso than gay, lesbian or transgender individuals might. Is it really that threatening to think people can be attracted to more than one gender (and, possibly, several?)

Well, Cara’s gonna do her, and you better get used to it.

 

Pyrrhic victory!!!!!!

A photo posted by St. Vincent (@st_vincent) on

How Good of an Actress Is J. Lo, Really? 8 of Her Performances, Ranked From Worst to Best

jlo

Tomorrow, Jennifer Lopez and Viola Davis‘ Lila & Eve arrives in theaters, a Thelma and Louise-esque romp about two women dishing out vigilante-style justice to avenge the death of Davis’ son (or, something). The film’s already getting some pretty harsh reviews, which made us wonder if J. Lo has trouble picking the right films to work on, or if she really just needs to stop her pursuit of acting all together. Here, we looked back on some of the more popular J. Lo movies, ranked from the absolute worst to the absolute best:

GIGLI, Martin Brest

In what was probably a hollow attempt to capitalize on Bennifer-mania, this box-office bomb regularly appears on “worst films of all time” lists, and for obvious reasons. Unsympathetic characters, a convoluted plot (wanna-be gangster kidnaps a mentally challenged man, and J. Lo’s just…there for some reason, doing yoga) and a surprising lack of chemistry between Affleck and Lopez, despite being an actual couple at the time it was filmed, all coalesce in an embarrassing endeavor.

THE BOY NEXT DOOR, Rob Cohen

This stalker thriller had a lot of promise, not necessarily to be a great film, but at least to be a guilty so-bad-it’s-good pleasure. Miraculously it fell short of that dubious honor, with Jordan Hoffman of The Guardian writing, “for a would-be cult classic, this could have been much more.”

ANACONDA, Luis Llosa

This serpentine suspense movie was basically the ‘90s version of Snakes on a Plane: high-concept, horrible acting, laughable more so than horrifying. Nominated for 6 Golden Raspberry Awards (J. Lo, luckily, evaded a nomination), it’s a good thing she appeared in a much better film the same year (we’ll get to that soon.)

MAID IN MANHATTAN, Wayne Wang

Your typical rom-com with a Cinderella complex. Ranking at not-her-best-yet-not-the-worst-movie-ever, Maid in Manhattan is a feel good story about a New York hotel maid (Lopez) who’s mistaken for a socialite by a senatorial candidate (Ralph Fiennes) after trying on a wealthy woman’s dress. They have an enchanting night, fall madly in love, etc. etc. Something about this plot line is slightly offensive and stereotypical, but it was the early aughts, after all.

THE WEDDING PLANNER, Adam Shankman

This is definitely Lopez’s most comfortable territory: a light-hearted romantic comedy in the tradition of happily ever after and a handsome, hunky dude with frosted tips (Matthew McConaughey). In this movie, Lopez is a successful city wedding planner who breaks her own biggest rule to never fall in love. Let’s check a “maybe” for this RSVP.

MONSTER-IN-LAW, Robert Luketic

J. Lo + Jane Fonda? Doesn’t even matter how cringe-worthy some of the scenes are in this movie, it definitely ranks high for pure camp factor alone. Charlotte (Lopez) finally finds the man of her dreams, but his mother (Fonda) will stop at nothing to destroy the relationship. Wacky hijinks ensue. Of course. It may not highlight J. Lo’s true ability, but at least she’s having fun with the role. Bonus points for an Elaine Stritch cameo.

THE CELL, Tarsem Singh

Her makeup is enough reason to consider this one of her masterpieces, but this slightly surreal thriller shows J. Lo has pretty decent dramatic skills. The story follows a psychologist (Lopez) convinced by an FBI agent (Vince Vaughn) to use experimental technology to enter the mind of a comatose serial killer in order to find his latest victim. And with visuals that have such vast inspiration from Damien Hirst to Madonna’s “Bedtime Story” video, it’s overall one of her better films.

SELENA, Gregory Nava

Really, did you think anything else would make the cut? The biopic where Lopez plays the cherished Tejano music star whose life was tragically cut short was, as Robert Ebert said, her “star-making performance.” Though her film career has been shaky ever since, her innocence, passion and raw stage presence in Selena prove she’s a star.