Ever since she was famously voted off American Idol in 2004, Jennifer Hudson has emerged as one of Hollywood’s greatest all-round entertainers.
The 32-year-old actress/singer has won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Grammy and performed for the Obamas at The White House but insists she still has to stay on her toes.
‘When I did Dreamgirls [her 2006 Oscar-winning breakthrough], nobody was paying attention to me so I had nothing to prove,’ she says. ‘Now, I’m the “Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson”, so everybody is watching.’
Over tea in Los Angeles, Hudson cuts a slim, beautiful figure. She’s lost 80lb (36kg) since becoming a spokesperson for WeightWatchers in 2010 and her hair has been chopped into a gamine pixie cut.
‘I wanted a change,’ she says. ‘I had my hair cut shorter for a film and I loved it, so I said: “OK, I want to go all the way!”. It’s much easier, I love it,’ adds the author of bestselling memoir I Got This: How I Changed My Ways And Lost What Weighed Me Down.
Hudson’s latest movie, Black Nativity, follows her roles in Sex And The City: The Movie and a Winnie Mandela biopic, and is her first musical since Dreamgirls.
Based on a play by the late US writer Langston Hughes, it’s a contemporary take on the nativity story and casts Hudson as a struggling single mother – a part written for her by director Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou).
It’s one of several absorbing films by black directors this year, ranging from 12 Years A Slave by British film-maker Steve McQueen to The Butler by director Lee Daniels.
‘It’s progress,’ says Hudson. ‘There are still more doors to open. I don’t know if we’ve grown in terms of opening up the eyes of studio heads but we have to start somewhere.’
Black Nativity’s all-star cast also includes Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson and Mary J Blige, who plays an angel.
Read the rest of her inspiring words here.
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