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Jennifer Lopez angry about sharing spotlight with Shakira in 2020 Super Bowl halftime show

In a new Netflix documentary, Jennifer Lopez lets rip over the time allotted to the co-headliners and reveals the NFL tried to suppress political message.

J-Lo doc reveals singer's anger at NFL over Shakira double-act at 2020 Super Bowl
Maddie MeyerAFP

Jennifer Lopez has admitted in a new documentary that she was unhappy about he conditions laid down by the NFL for her performance with Shakira during the 2020 Super Bowl halftime show. There is no suggestion of a case of professional jealousy between the two singers, but Lopez felt it was impossible for any kind of message to be put across “in six f**king minutes.” The multi award-winning singer and actor, who went on to sing at President Joe Biden’s inauguration in 2021, described the NFL’s insistence on having co-headliners as “the worst idea in the world.”

Lopez’s manager, Benny Medina, goes even further: “Typically, you have one headliner at a Super Bowl. That headliner constructs a show, and, should they choose to have other guests, that’s their choice. It was an insult to say you needed two Latinas to do the job that one artist historically has done,” he says in the documentary.

Lopez also suggests that the NFL should have given the singers a longer slot as they were headlining together. As it transpired, Lopez and Shakira were only given 12 minutes – less than solo headliners Madonna (2012), Beyoncé (2013) and Lady Gaga (2017).

“It’s not going to be a f**king dance revue”

“We have six f**king minutes. We have 30 seconds of a song, and if we take a minute, that’s it, we’ve got five left. But, there’s got to be certain songs that we sing, though. We have to have our singing moments. It’s not going to be a dance f**king revue. We have to sing our message,” Lopez is seen telling her musical director. “If it was going to be a double headliner, they should have given us 20 minutes. That’s what they should’ve f**king done.”

The show was nevertheless considered a triumph and many observers thought it was a timely moment to have the biggest show in the US headlined by two singers of Latin descent. Donald Trump was in the White House at the time and his heavy-handed approach to immigration, particularly along the US border with Mexico, where the Republican infamously promised to build a wall, and at a time when children were being forcibly separated from their parents and held in makeshift detention camps that were likened to prisons in a BBC report.

NFL was not happy about Lopez’s immigration message

Lopez decided to use the show to make a political point and included a section in which her daughter, Emme, began her hit song “Let’s get Loud” inside a cage. Halftime also addresses the NFL’s reaction to the imagery, with Lopez and Medina suggesting that the organizers pressurized them to take the section out. “I get a call from Benny and he’s like, ‘they want to pull the cages,’” Lopez says during the documentary. Medina confirms the NFL’s stance: “The NFL had a real concern about making a political statement about immigration,” he adds. “They did not want those cages in the show. That had come down from the highest authority.”

Lopez, though, decided to press ahead, noting: “For me, this isn’t about politics. This is about human rights […] the Super Bowl is tomorrow and we’re not changing anything.”

Halftime premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York and is due to be released on Netflix on 14 June.


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