J-Lo and Shakira prepare for historic, Hispanic Super Bowl halftime performance

Alan Gomez

MIAMI — Neither Jennifer Lopez nor Shakira mentioned President Donald Trump by name on Thursday, but the co-headliners of the Super Bowl LIV halftime show said their upcoming performances are coming at a critically important time, given the difficult issues that Hispanics are facing in the U.S. right now.

Lopez, who was born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents, and Shakira, who was born and raised in Colombia, said their historic performance as the first Hispanic co-headliners can provide some solace, and some inspiration, to their embattled communities. 

"Two Latinas doing this at this time in this country … it's just very empowering for us," Lopez said during a news conference previewing the show. "I’m very proud to be able to help set and push for that message."

The pair won't be the only Hispanic headliners performing around the game. Cuban-American rapper Pitbull will perform during pregame festivities, and Demi Lovato, whose father is Mexican, will perform the national anthem.

The Hispanic-heavy performances will undoubtedly help the NFL avoid the kind of controversy it faced in 2019, when multiple African-American artists turned down invitations to perform in the Super Bowl in Atlanta. Instead, Maroon 5 headlined the show, drawing widespread anger and prompting the league to join with Jay-Z's Roc Nation to produce future events. 

Shakira loves that such a collective display of Latin American performers will be broadcast worldwide. While she's still struggling to learn the rules of American football, she said she hopes little girls around the world will see her path from Barranquilla, Colombia, to the world's biggest stage. 

"The Latinos are going through a difficult time in the U.S. right now," she said. "It's very important for us to convey a message of unity."

Shakira said their performance will also embolden women and performers of their age: Lopez is 50, and Shakira will turn 43 on Super Bowl Sunday.

"J-Lo and I are here redefining paradigms about age, about race, about background," Shakira said. "It really doesn’t matter where you’re from, how old you are or where you come from. What matters is what you have to say. We’re here, and we have a lot of stuff to say."

The two offered few details about their 12-minute performance, and Lopez wouldn't confirm whether any of their children would be performing, following rumors that started after she posted pictures of her daughter accompanying her during rehearsals.

They also spoke about the death of Kobe Bryant. Bryant had seen both Shakira and Lopez in concert, the latter during a "date night" that Bryant had with his wife, attending Lopez's final show during her residency in Las Vegas.

Lopez said she was rehearsing for the halftime show when she learned of the helicopter crash that killed Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others. Her husband, retired New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, broke the news to her.

"He was devastated. He knew Kobe very well. They kind of came up together, entered sports around the same time," she said. "It’s affecting everybody so much because it’s just reminding us again how fragile life is and how we have to appreciate every single moment, and how we have to love people when they’re here."