Jenni Rivera Had Ovaries of Steel

The ballsy, brash, brilliant, too-short life of the Mexican regional music queen and Long Beach girl

And that's what endeared her so much to millions of Mexican women and more than a few males. Rivera was the cousin whom the tías always clucked about; the prima who was a bit too loud, a bit too independent, but successful; the type of woman everyone wanted to be; the American success story Mexican immigrants want for their children. More important, Rivera never forget her hardscrabble roots, peppering her songs and performances with shoutouts to her hometown of "Playa Larga." Though she reveled in luxury (her most recent home was a multimillion-dollar Encino estate), Rivera lived for the fans and always let them know that; her 2007 album, Mi Vida Loca (or "My Crazy Life"), memorably showed her flashing the hand signal for "West side" behind her back as she walked down the red carpet—the real Jenni from the block.

I'll end this obit with the conclusion of my 2003 story, with the parting words Rivera spoke when I asked how society would remember her, words that in retrospect not only sound prophetic, but also prove Rivera had a plan for life even then that wouldn't be stopped:

"They're going to think of a woman who's real. They'll think about a woman who went through hell and back and never gave up. No one else has ever opened doors for me—I opened them myself. And people have a problem with women who do that. They have a problem when we're no longer as passive and submissive as, say, their mothers were growing up. Too bad. I say what I say, and I do what I do. I'm me."

 

This article appeared in print as "Los Ovarios of Steel: The ballsy, brash, brilliant, too-short life of Mexican regional music queen and Long Beach girl Jenni Rivera."

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6 comments
ELMEROMERO
ELMEROMERO

Good work my friend ,LA Times still have the story of her life all screwed up.

Thank you for putting the truth out there. I always loved her musica y de su hermano lupillo.La raza de Chalino Sanchez

Lori Spangler
Lori Spangler

Thanks for the insight. I had never heard of her before last week.

Vanessa Magana
Vanessa Magana

Thank you Gustavo, a few months back I started listening to her music. First song, I got hooked! She will be missed.

almahromero
almahromero

Thank you, Gustavo. This is the best piece I have read/seen about Jenni Rivera, you truly captured her essence and what this extraordinary artist/woman/mother was about. I tried leaving you a comment on your FB post but it didn't let me. I hardly ever comment unless I'm truly impressed by someone's work. You did her justice. And by the way I wasn't a fan, but I truly admired her 'ovaries of steel.' Si que fue una fregona! ... Also, I love your quote on The Washington Post article re: “For all the racket that the [mainstream media] has made about diversity over the past 15 years, they continue to fail — as if we ever expected them to succeed in the first place?” Thank you, you couldn't have said it any better. Thanks for your work.

missbrandicruz
missbrandicruz

thank you Gustavo, I actually cried reading this beautiful tribute. Long Beach will miss 'THE REAL JENNI FROM THE BLOCK".

-paulc-
-paulc-

I like how the English media is keeping her family drama out of the press...I think we all get enough of that on channel 34

 
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