"This is all new to me," the judge explained to Ryan Seacrest on his KIIS-FM radio show Thursday. "I'm used to having a script in a movie, or a big performance with a cane and a microphone, and I have all kinds of stuff going on ... You're [not always] getting me."
Lopez explained that Idol lets the world see the real Jennifer. "This is the first experience ... where I feel like people are getting to know who I am as a person," she said. "It's such a vulnerable place to be."
The tears came after Lopez told Chris Medina, a contestant who shared his heartbreaking story during his audition, that he was out of the competition.
"I didn't break down when he was there necessarily, I did it afterwards after he left," Lopez said. "It really hit me. I just couldn't believe I had to deliver this news to this person who I felt had been through a lot, and is going through a lot, and I felt like I didn't do it well enough for him."
She said part of the challenge was that she had very little time to prepare for the task.
"As we were going down the list, I didn't realize I had to tell him," she said. "All of the sudden it was my turn and I was like, 'Oh gosh, how am I going to say this?' At the end of the day we had to do our job, which was to pick the top 12 guys and he wasn't in it. And that was tough to do because you had grown to have so much respect for him as a person."
While Lopez became choked up, Medina kept his composure, thanking the judges before exiting – and that stung Lopez even more.
"He handled it with such dignity and so much class, and that made it worse for me," Lopez said. "I was like 'Oh, he's so awesome, I respect this person so much.' "
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