In Second Act, Jennifer Lopez’s character of Maya Vargas gets a second chance, moving up from being an assistant manager at Value Shop (where she’s been passed over for a promotion) to landing a gig at an elite Manhattan consumer products firm called Franklin & Clarke. There she finds herself in direct competition with the owner’s daughter, Zoe (Vanessa Hudgens), with the pressure being amplified that, unbeknownst to her, her godson created a social media profile for her that resulted in the hiring in the first place. Can she match the hype and win a product development competition? C’mon, it’s J.Lo — what do you think?
Comments Jennifer, “I love a broad comedy where everything’s just funny, but, for me, the best comedies are the ones that are really based in reality, because those are the ones that you relate to more. Those moments with your friends where you’re acting silly, or those moments where you know you’re about to cry, but then you wind up laughing. Those are the great comedic moments. She’s up for a promotion and done everything she can. She’s smart and capable and eager, but also scared and doubtful, and she doesn’t get it. But then you kind of get to see who she really is, which is a scared person who’d given up hope a long time ago. And we just don’t know why. But when this whole other thing happens, where she makes a wish and, you know, this profile that’s created gives her an opportunity to show what she’s got and what’s made made of, and she rises to the occasion.”
The script for the film is written by Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas and Justin Zackman, the idea based on a concept they’d come up with six years earlier. “I had this idea about reinvention,” says Elaine. “The way so many people are stuck in lives they don’t want, dreaming of lives they do, only to realize they had the power all along to change.”
Adds Justin, “We cooked up this story about a woman who feels she never got a fair shake. But then she gets an amazing opportunity, albeit not entirely honestly, that changes everything for her. She gets to know what life is like when your dreams come true.”
“This is the kind of movie I love,” notes director Peter Segal. “It reminded me of Working Girl, Tootsie, The Secret of My Success — wish fulfillment movies where someone gets a second chance, and a disguise through storytelling to become a different person. And then, of course, they have to deal with the fall-out of their lies while achieving their goal. The audience knows you’re heading towards a cliff. They enjoy it, but also cringe at what they know is about to happen. [Also], Maya really is an every person. We all have dreams and often don’t achieve them all. Maya is a person who made certain choices because of things that happened early in her life. There was a lot of regret about how it could have been different. As she tries to climb the ladder and things don’t go her way, she sees some of those past decisions as the reason. I think a lot of people can relate to that.”
Regarding the film itself, Jennifer notes, “It’s hard to put Second Act into any genre, but I would call it a feel-good movie. It’s one of those movies that makes you feel warm and fuzzy at the end of it because you’ve gone on this really difficult journey with somebody and really through a time in their life where everything’s changing. It’s scary and you’re unsure and uncertain, and you are not equipped with the things you need to be equipped with. But then you realize you have everything inside you that you need to overcome this — and actually come out the other side better. It’s one of those defining moments in life where you learn one of the big life lessons; life-changing moments and love going through that journey with characters.
“And me growing up in the Bronx and understanding that life and being there until I was almost 26 years old, it really plays into my strengths and what I can do as a character,” she elaborates. “We think that the mistakes that we make define us and that we can’t supersede them and that the past has a hold on us in a way that keeps us stuck. What I loved about this script, which I relate to very much, is that you are never stuck. You can always reinvent. You can always make a change. You can always keep growing. To me, that message has so much relevance for everybody, but especially for women. Especially in this day and age. And we can forge our own future. We can do whatever we want to do, and we don’t have to be stuck in the past.”
Second Act is now playing in theaters.