ELLE’s first-ever solo male cover subject, Maluma, appears on the February 2021 issue, on newsstands on February 2.
Maluma finds an increasingly global audience—and himself—while spending time at home in Medellín with his family, old friends, horses, cows, chickens, and dogs. He opens up to ELLE about working with Jennifer Lopez, the importance of spiritually in his life and more. “Jennifer, she’s not only a work partner—I would say she is my friend. She is someone I admire, and she is someone I’ve followed since I was a little kid. So for me, being part of this movie was almost surreal. It was a big surprise when they called me, but I was ready for it.”
In May, he’ll star alongside Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson in Marry Me, a sweet rom-com about an unlikely romance between a platinum-selling pop star (Lopez) and an unassuming math teacher (Wilson). Maluma plays Bastian, Lopez’s character’s fiancé, until it’s revealed that he’s cheated on her with her assistant. Lopez, who serves as a producer on the film, proposed Maluma for the role. “We talked about a lot of different people for that part,” she said during her cover interview for ELLE’s February issue. “From Adam Levine to John Mayer to Drake. And then I was like, ‘You know what—it would be great to have a bilingual album for the movie. Why don’t we get a Latin superstar?’ ”
In 1994, three years before Lopez’s star-making turn in Selena, Maluma was born Juan Luis Londoño Arias in the Envigado neighborhood of Medellín to a homemaker mother and a father who worked for a logistics company. “My family, we were not rich,” Maluma says. “We had what we needed, but then my dad lost everything, and my parents got divorced.” He doesn’t like to go into the details, but that experience at age 12 is what inspires his strong work ethic. “It’s what made me realize I had to work super hard so my family could have food and a house to live in,” he says. “But between everything, I was a very happy child.” He recalls playing a CD he’d made at a local recording studio for some high school classmates. “When I showed it to my friends, they started laughing, but then they started dancing. I was so confused, because I was like, Are they joking or do they really like the songs? At the end, they were like, ‘Bro, you know what? We are laughing because you are talented and you are going to make it happen.’
On his steamy collaboration with Madonna for their “Medellín” song, video, and 2019 Billboard Music Awards performance. “Madonna loves doing things in an organic way—she is very spiritual,” Maluma says. “When we were doing the ‘Medellín’ video, it was almost 48 hours working nonstop, and I was surprised, because Madonna, she was 60 years old, but she looks like she is younger than me.” The good vibes were mutual. “When I first met Maluma, I was drawn to his positivity and good energy,” Madonna tells me via email. “But when I got to know him, what surprised me was his work ethic. Being in the studio with him was effortless, and performing with him on ‘Medellín’ was a gratifying collaboration. We proved to be creative kindred spirits and had a fun time doing it.”
Cover: Shirt and Ring by Dior Homme
Image 1: Shirt, Shorts, Chain Link Necklace (worn on wrist), Bracelet, Rings, Socks, and Loafers by Dior Homme | Necklace by Tiffany & Co.
Image 2: Robe and Shorts by Dolce & Gabbana | Tank by Hanes | Rings by David Yurman
[Photo Credit: Micaiah Carter for ELLE Magazine]