Jennifer Hudson is an American Oscar Award winning actress and singer, who gained worldwide popularity for her roles in movies such as ‘Dreamgirls’, ‘Sex and the City’, ‘The Secret Life of Bees’, and ‘Black Nativity’. Hudson, who made her film debut in 2006 with the musical drama film ‘Dreamgirls’, rose to popularity in quite a short time. Her role in the film earned her several awards including an Oscar. After the success of her first film, she next appeared in ‘Sex and the City’, an American romantic comedy. Over the years, she also appeared in the drama film ‘The Secret Life of Bees’. One of her recent film roles was in the drama film ‘Chi-Raq’, which was directed and produced by Spike Lee. Throughout her career, she has also made numerous appearances in television programs such as ‘Smash’, ‘Empire’, and ‘Confirmation’, a television film. As a singer, three studio albums have been released by her till date. Her debut album, which was named after herself, was released in 2008. Debuting at number two on the Billboard 200, it was a huge hit.
Childhood & Early Life
Jennifer Hudson was born on 12 September 1981, in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. Her parents were Samuel Simpson and Darnell Donnerson. They had three children, Jennifer being the youngest one.
Hudson was raised a Baptist, and during her childhood, she used to sing in the church choir. She attended the Dunbar Vocational High School, completing her graduation in the year 1999.
After finishing school, she enrolled in Langston University. But soon she started to feel homesick, which led to her leaving the university after a semester.
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Jennifer Hudson signed her first recording contract in 2002, with a record label named Righteous Records. She had a five-year contract. However, she was released from it because she had to appear on ‘American Idol’ in 2004.
After defeating hundreds of other contenders, she earned her first role in films, in the movie ‘Dreamgirls’ in 2006. Her fantastic and unforgettable performance in the role of Effie White won her several awards, including an Oscar for best supporting actress.
She next appeared in ‘Sex and the City’, a 2008 American romantic comedy, which was directed by Michael Patrick King. The film premiered in London on May 15, 2008. Hudson’s role as an electronically savvy assistant was much loved by the audience.
In 2008, she also released her debut studio album, which was named after herself. It turned out to be a huge hit, and debuted at No. 2 on the US Billboard 200. Having sold 217,000 copies within the first week itself, it also earned her several awards such as the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding New Artist.
Jennifer Hudson continued appearing in several movies such as ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ (2008), ‘Winged Creatures’ (2008), ‘Black Nativity’ (2013), and ‘Lullaby’ (2014).
Her second album ‘I Remember Me’ was released on 22 March 2011. Like her first album, it also turned out to be a success, debuting at No. 2 on the US Billboard 200. It also sold 165,000 copies in its first week itself, and earned mostly positive reviews.
In 2014, she released her third album ‘JHUD’ on which she had worked with several songwriters and producers. It debuted at No. 2 on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and sold 165,000 copies within the first week. It was reviewed mostly positively by critics.
One of her recent appearances was in the 2015 movie ‘Chi-Raq’, which was directed and produced by Spike Lee. It was a commercial success, and received positive reviews from critics as well. It also earned Hudson a nomination for the 47th NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture.
'Dreamgirls' a 2006 American musical drama film, directed by Bill Condon, can be regarded as the most significant work of Jennifer Hudson. The story, which is shown through the eyes of a musical group known as Dreams, focuses on the history and evolution of American Rhythm and Blues music during the 1960s and 1970s. Hudson’s role earned her numerous awards, which included an Oscar for best Supporting Actress.
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Hudson appeared in a supporting role, in the popular American romantic comedy film ‘Sex and the City’ which released in 2008. The film is a sequel to a comedy series of the same name, which aired on HBO from 1998 to 2004. It starred actors such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattral, and Kristin Davis in lead roles. The film was a commercial success, and grossed over $415 million worldwide.
She appeared in a lead role in the 2011 biographical drama film ‘Winnie Mandela’, which was based on the life of the wife of Nelson Mandela. The film, however, was criticized for several reasons, including the fact that Winnie Mandela herself was not consulted for making of a film about her life.
'Black Nativity' (2013) was an American musical drama film in which Hudson played a supporting role. The film was directed by Kasi Lemmons, and starred mostly African American actors including Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson, Mary J. Blige and Jacob Latimore. The film received mixed reviews from critics.
‘Chi-Raq’ a 2015 American musical drama, is the latest significant work in Hudson’s career. The film was directed and produced by Spike Lee, and along with Hudson, it starred Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Tevonah Parris, and John Cusack. The film received mostly positive reviews, with some critics even claiming it to be the greatest film of the year.
Awards & Achievements
Jennifer Hudson’s debut film ‘Dreamgirls’ earned her numerous awards which included the Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture, and a Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress.
She has won several other awards as well, which includes a Grammy for her debut album titled ‘Jennifer Hudson’.
Jennifer Hudson started dating James Payton in 1999. They broke up in 2007.
Later she met wrestler David Otunga, with whom she got engaged in 2008. In 2009, she gave birth to a boy who was named David Daniel Otunga, Jr.
A great tragedy befell her family when her mother, brother, and nephew were killed in a shooting in 2008. The incident deeply shocked her and she stayed away from public life for a few months before returning to her public appearances.