Mario Lopez has it all: a long-running Hollywood career (he'll be back to host "The X Factor" this week); a brand-new baby boy — which makes two little ones for him and his wife, dancer Courtney Mazza; not to mention washboard abs and the cutest dimples ever. Who would have thought that his working in entertainment had been a happy accident?
"I fell into it, to tell you the truth, man. I didn't want to be [a performer]," Lopez told Yahoo's "The Sidebar" host, Ben Lyons, when Lyons asked the 39-year-old when he knew he wanted to be a star. So how did his career unfold? "Somebody saw me at some sort of competition, like a little play or something, and asked my mom if I'd be interested in getting into commercials," Lopez recalled. His mom's take: "He reads well and he's not shy — why not?"
"And the monster was born," Lyons aptly put it. Lopez is known for having his hand in many Tinseltown projects — from his breakout role as A.C. Slater on the iconic '90s sitcom "Saved by the Bell" to his more recent hosting gigs on MTV's "America's Best Dance Crew," "Extra," and "The X Factor."
Why does the San Diego native work so much? Because he's naturally a guarded optimist, as Lopez put it, and has the tendency to think, "Oh man, this isn't going to last. I'm gonna be broke next week. That's why I'm doing so many jobs. That's why I work so much."
But just because Lopez seems to be everywhere doesn't mean he doesn't find a balance with his personal life: "I still have breakfast with my daughter every morning and am still home for dinner pretty much every night. It's just in those hours, I squeeze in a lot."
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How about his successful transition from child actor to adult TV personality? (We have enough proof that it's not easy!) "I realized the business is tough, but being a child actor and transitioning into an adult is even tougher. Being Latino and a child actor and transitioning into an adult is even tougher than that." Shortly after, Lopez had the opportunity to work with Dick Clark. "He really liked me," Lopez said, "and so, I'm like, 'That's it! I want to be the Latino Dick Clark.'"
Fun fact: A.C. Slater was actually a mishmash of the real Lopez! His mom put together a list of Lopez's skills and talents (such as wrestling and playing the drums), which ended up being the inspiration for the character: "It wasn't like I was the character; the character was me — that was me growing up."
So what's the scoop on the upcoming season of Fox's large-scale talent competition, which premieres Sept. 11, and its panel of judges (newbies Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio will join Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato)? First of all, Lopez is gladly taking credit for suggesting that Cowell only have female co-judges, whom Lopez calls "Simon's angels."
"We got enough testosterone, you know, for the panel," Lopez said to the notorious Brit. "Why don't you surround yourself with a great group of girls that are strong, independent, and very vocal?" And that's exactly what Cowell did.
How about the relationships on the panel? "They get along great, and there's good chemistry," Lopez dished. Well, that might be true, but with four opinionated judges, fans are surely hoping for at least a few fireworks.
"The X Factor" Season 3 premieres Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 8 p.m. on Fox.