• Image about Marc Anthony
Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, presides over San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Alamy

“It’s funny, because we sat down with Simon Fuller, who’s British. His whole thing was that he was so enamored with Latin music and Latin culture,” Lopez recalls. “He was like, ‘You know, it’s just the best music ever, and I want the whole world to see it!’ We were like, ‘We know, we love it too!’ For Marc and me, it was a great thing to be able to empower Latino artists.”

Lopez herself came up in the entertainment industry at a time when such empowerment was far more scarce. Famously raised by Puerto Rican parents in the Bronx — an upbringing immortalized in her 2002 pop radio hit “Jenny from the Block” — her breakout success, first as a dancer, began in the early ’90s. This was still several years before the so-called Latin Explosion would first be tagged as such in the media. Gloria Estefan, perhaps the original female crossover star of contemporary times, was still going strong, but otherwise, chart toppers with Spanish surnames were thin on the ground.


Now Playing: Lopez’s 2004 film Shall We Dance is now showing on the in-seat system of American Airlines 777s, on the international in-seat system of AA’s 757s and on Samsung tablets.
As a result, though she had pursued singing since childhood, Lopez wisely diversified from the start, using her professional dancing as an entrée onto screens big and small. Her breakout came in the form of the title role in the 1997 biopic Selena, about the Mexican pop star who was slain by her own fan-club president. The part allowed Lopez to flex her acting and singing skills, leading to parallel careers that would continue to explode over the next two decades.

Though she now enjoys a rarefied public position, she still remembers her role models at the start of her ascent into supercelebritydom. “When you’re coming up and going through everything, there’s always that teacher, that special person,” she says, name-checking Edward James Olmos, who played her father in Selena. “Working with people like that who have so much experience — it makes you grow as an artist by leaps and bounds.”

It’s with a desire to pay that forward that she and Anthony approached ¡Q’Viva! “We were both in the frame of mind of doing a legacy project,” Anthony says. “When you’ve been in the game as long as we have, the way we look at opportunities is different. I always weigh how much good I could do with something, instead of being self-serving and just looking for a great opportunity for myself. When you’ve had enough of those, you start looking at how other people can win.”

To that end, Lopez, Anthony and King, along with Fuller and his company, have taken great pains to ensure an audition process for ¡Q’Viva! that’s as far-reaching and democratic as possible. Would-be contestants from Argentina, Venezuela, Honduras and beyond could submit videos online where they were reviewed by the hosts and the production team. If performers couldn’t swing that, BlackBerry set up mobile booths in Argentina, Mexico and Brazil, where people could record audition tapes live on a Playbook tablet. At times, the show went even farther — say, traveling into the jungles of Costa Rica to seek out indigenous talents.