This bright and booming talent is a perfect example of how NOT winning the title of "American Idol" (2002) can actually be a boon to your career and not necessarily the end of a childhood dream.
Born Jennifer Kate Hudson on September 12, 1981, in Chicago, Illinois, she earned minor attention as one of the twelve finalists on the third season of the FOX TV series in 2004. She came in an underwhelming sixth runner-up. Hudson grew up singing in gospel choirs, acting in community theater productions, singing on cruise ships and touring for in Disney's Hercules: The Musical. With no formal musical training, her gospel-tinged voice initially pleased the panel of judges. The songs were arguably ill-advised but evidence of her greatness peeked through at times. She, Fantasia Barrino and La Toya London were promoted as the show's own version of the Dreamgirls and were expected to be the final three standing in the competition when Jennifer was unexpectedly cut from the pack. Fantasia won the competition and all the glory and the fame.
Hudson appeared with the "American Idol" summer tour and performed on the road in concerts over the next two years. She auditioned for the coveted role of Effie Melody White, the cast-off member of a popular 60s Supremes-like girl group in the long-awaited film version of the Broadway musical Dreamgirls. Among Jennifer's competition was Fantasia herself. This time Jennifer was the winner, and was ordered to gain weight for the role. With the insurmountable task of taking over a role so indelibly identified with Tony-winning legend Jennifer Holliday, the making of Dreamgirls (2006).
In a role of a lifetime, Hudson no longer had to play second fiddle to anyone. Her role in Dreamgirls (2006) was one of the most triumphant musical film debuts since Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl (1968). Hudson made the role her own delivering the same heart-breaking, gut-wrenching one-two punch that made Holliday the toast of Broadway in 1981. To outshine Beyoncé Knowles and Eddie Murphy is no easy task but Hudson was the heart and soul of the movie. She copped awards from the National Board of Review, New York Film Critics, Phoenix Film Critics Society, Golden Satellite, Golden Globe, the British Film and the coveted Oscar. The late, tragic Florence Ballard, on whom the Effie character is based, would be very inspired indeed to see Jennifer Hudson's meteoric rise to musical star.
Jennifer was going to perform Over the Rainbow for movie night but was informed that she'd have to perform it Kimberley Locke's way and decided to sing I Have Nothing instead.
Beat out 782 actresses for her role in Dreamgirls (2006).
Jennifer's role of Effie Melody White in Dreamgirls (2006) is a thinly-disguised portrait of the late ousted Supreme member Florence Ballard. Flo's story, however, ended tragically, unlike that of the Effie character. Of Diana Ross and Mary Wilson, Ballard, who gave the Supremes its name, was the strongest vocalist of the three. At one point, all three girls shared leads. Labeled the no-hit Supremes for a time, astute Motown mogul Berry Gordy decided Ross had the ideal personality and coy voice to pull in cross-over white audiences. The Supremes were a sensation with Ballard and Wilson shoved permanently into the background and never given any solo lines. Unlike Effie, Ballard's weight was not a factor until well into stardom. Fed by Ross's diva-like stance, Flo's ongoing depression and problems with alcohol grew. Ballard's unreliability triggered her dismissal in 1967. An attempt at a solo career was a complete bust, since she was never allowed to feed off the Supremes name for publicity. Ballard became destitute with three children to support and her health severely declined. Unlike Effie, Flo never was able to make a comeback and died of a coronary thrombosis in 1976 at age 32.
The first contestant from "American Idol" (2002) to be nominated and win an Academy Award.
A revival of the 1981 Broadway smash "Dreamgirls" is in the talking stage and Jennifer has been approached about recreating her Effie role.
One of a very few actors to receive an Oscar for their debut performance.
She attended Dunbar Vocational Career Academy, graduating in 1999.
She cites Whitney Houston as her musical/movie influence, and has also said recently that her biggest wish is to collaborate on her debut album with Houston.
Became close friends with singer Beyoncé Knowles during the filming of Dreamgirls (2006). Beyoncé was present at the February 2007 Academy Awards ceremony where Jennifer won the Oscar for best supporting actress.
Is one of the 15 actors to win an Oscar for their film debut. The others are: Shirley Booth for Come Back, Little Sheba (1952), Julie Andrews for Mary Poppins (1964), Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl (1968) and Marlee Matlin for Children of a Lesser God (1986) (all for Best Actress in a Leading Role), followed by Katina Paxinou for For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), Mercedes McCambridge for All the King's Men (1949), Eva Marie Saint for On the Waterfront (1954), Jo Van Fleet for East of Eden (1955), Goldie Hawn for Cactus Flower (1969), Tatum O'Neal for Paper Moon (1973) and Anna Paquin for The Piano (1993) (all for Best Actress in a Supporting Role). The three male actors are Harold Russell for The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Timothy Hutton for Ordinary People (1980), and Haing S. Ngor for The Killing Fields (1984) (all for Best Actor in a Supporting Role). Out of these 15 actors, only Mercedes McCambridge, Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand and Goldie Hawn have been nominated since their win.
In November 2006, she signed a record deal with Clive Davis's label, Arista Records.
Packed on 20 pounds to play the role of Effie White in Dreamgirls (2006).
Managed to eke out a thanks to the original stage Effie, Jennifer Holliday, as the orchestra music began to unceremoniously drown out Jennifer's emotional Oscar acceptance speech. Both Holliday and Sheryl Lee Ralph (the theater's first Deena) had expressed hurt and dismay earlier at being snubbed during the mounting publicity for the "Dreamgirls" film. The third original Dreamgirl on stage, Loretta Devine, received a singing cameo in the film version. The other two were not offered or even approached to appear in the film.
She was overwhelmed to receive the Sammy Davis Jr. Award for Entertainer of the Year at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, California. She also performed at the ceremony and said, "I just can't believe I got the Sammy Davis Jr. Award. I'm standing on the same stage where I made the top 32 of American Idol." (10 March 2007).
Jennifer attributes her vocal talents to her late grandmother Julia Kate Hudson, who was a former choir mistress in Chicago.
Is one of 6 African-American actresses to win an Oscar in a competitive category. In chronological order the others are: Hattie McDaniel for Gone with the Wind (1939), Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost (1990), Halle Berry for Monster's Ball (2001), Mo'Nique for Precious (2009/II) and Octavia Spencer for The Help (2011).
Her best supporting actress Oscar for Dreamgirls (2006) stands on the mantel of her Chicago apartment.
Her favourite female pop artist is Céline Dion.
Her favourite types of music are R&B and pop.
One of 115 people invited to join AMPAS in 2007.
Began singing when she was 7-years-old. As a child, Jennifer performed as part of a choir at her local church in Chicago.
One of 15 African-American actresses to be nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. The others in chronological order are: Hattie McDaniel, Ethel Waters, Juanita Moore, Beah Richards, Alfre Woodard, Margaret Avery, Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Queen Latifah, Ruby Dee, Viola Davis, 'Taraji P Henson', Mo'Nique and Octavia Spencer. As of 2012, Whoopi Goldberg and Viola Davis are the only African-American actresses to receive nominations in both the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories.
Was cast in the film Meet the Browns (2008), but was replaced shortly before filming began.
Made her stage debut with the one-off concert revival of 'Hair' on Broadway in September 2004. She then returned to Broadway for the one-off concert revival of 'The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas' as Jewel in October 2006.
Was not in attendance at the 2007 BAFTA Awards ceremony when she was won the award as Best Supporting Actress for Dreamgirls (2006). Actor and fellow BAFTA-nominee, Daniel Craig, accepted the award on her behalf. Her award was shipped to her but got lost in the mail. In 2011, Hudson appeared on British talk show, "The Graham Norton Show: Jennifer Hudson/K D Lang/Bill Bailey (#9.2)" (2011), where Norton surprised her with the award.
As of 2007 she is the eighth youngest recipient of the best supporting actress Academy Award. She won the award at the age of 25 for her performance in Dreamgirls (2006). The others, ranked from youngest to the seventh youngest, are: Tatum O'Neal (aged 10) for Paper Moon (1973), Anna Paquin (aged 11) for The Piano (1993), Patty Duke (aged 16) for The Miracle Worker (1962), Anne Baxter (aged 23) for The Razor's Edge (1946), Teresa Wright (aged 24) for Mrs. Miniver (1942), Goldie Hawn (aged 24) for Cactus Flower (1969) and Angelina Jolie (aged 24) for Girl, Interrupted (1999). She is also the youngest African-American actress ever to win an Academy Award.
Was in a relationship with maintenance engineer James Peyton between 1999-2007.
The song All Dressed In Love was written for the Sex and the City (2008) soundtrack.
Director Michael Patrick King and actress Sarah Jessica Parker wanted Jennifer specifically to play the role of Louise, Carrie's assistant, in Sex and the City (2008). He created the role with only her in mind.
Confessed that before making the film Sex and the City (2008), she had never seen the "Sex and the City" (1998) television series. After reading the film script she went out and bought all of the DVDs on the TV series and became completely addicted to them.
Is one of 9 actresses to have won the Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Critics' Choice Award, Golden Globe Award and SAG Award for the same performance. The others in chronological order are Julia Roberts for Erin Brockovich (2000), Renée Zellweger for Cold Mountain (2003), Reese Witherspoon for Walk the Line (2005), Helen Mirren for The Queen (2006), Kate Winslet for The Reader (2008), Mo'Nique for Precious (2009/II), Natalie Portman for Black Swan (2010) and Octavia Spencer for The Help (2011).
She is the daughter of Samuel Simpson and Darnell Hudson Donerson and is the youngest of three children. Her father, who is deceased, was a bus driver. Her brother Jason was a mechanic and her sister Julia works as a school bus driver.
Became engaged to David Otunga on her 27th birthday when he proposed with a Neil Lane diamond ring on September 12, 2008.
Her mother Darnell, aged 57, and brother Jason, aged 29, were shot and killed at their home in Chicago on October 24, 2008. Her nephew Julian Hudson-King, aged seven, was kidnapped and later found on October 27, dead due to multiple gun shot wounds, in the rear seat of a white SUV ten miles from the family home. Her brother-in-law William Balfour, who is the estranged husband of her sister Julia, was later arrested for the homicides.
Has a half-sister named Dinah Simpson.
Was invited to sing "The Star Spangled Banner" at Barack Obama's inauguration on January 20th, 2009, but respectfully declined, opting instead to make her comeback at the 2009 Super Bowl.
Has three Pomeranian dogs called Oscar, Grammy and Dreamgirl.
Toured the USA, performing songs from her debut album "Jennifer Hudson", along with Robin Thicke (March-May 2009).
Gave birth to her son David Daniel Otunga, with fiancé David Otunga, via Caesarean section, two days early, weighing in at 7lbs 14oz (10 August 2009).
Celebrated her son David's first birthday with a WWE-themed party.
Returned to work 5 months after giving birth to her son David in order to begin recording her second album, "I Remember Me".
Was rushed to hospital with severe abdominal pains; was later diagnosed with food poisoning (10 June 2011).
Officially received, for the first time, the BAFTA trophy she'd won for Dreamgirls (2006) when she appeared as a guest on "The Graham Norton Show: Jennifer Hudson/K D Lang/Bill Bailey (#9.2)" (2011). When Norton learned that Hudson had never actually received her trophy due to her absence on the night of the event, he organized a reissue of the prize with the British film academy and personally presented it to her himself.
Went to Dunbar Vocational High School and sang in the school's chorus.
Jennifer Hudson is the Godmother for the Disney Dream cruise ship.
I never gave up hope of playing "Effie". They'd talk to me and then look at other people and then come back to me. . .but I always had the faith. I had to separate myself from the process and not think about it too much or I'd go crazy. JH, regarding her Dreamgirls (2006) role.
I just tried to live in the moment and be natural, as if there were no cameras there. Maybe it's because I felt like singing and acting are related. When you're singing you have to sell it. You act out that song; you have to know the meaning and purpose of it. I let that guide me.
"I don't do clubs. I don't drink. I don't smoke".
In a recent interview, I was asked how I reconciled being a Christian with performing at events for my gay fans. I find it upsetting that some folks equate being a Christian with being intolerant of gay people. That may, unfortunately, be true for some, but it is not true for me. I have talked often of my love and support of the gay community. I have said again and again that it was the gay community that supported me long before and long after American Idol, and kept me working and motivated. It is the gay community that celebrated my voice and my size and my personality long before Dreamgirls. Yes, I was raised Baptist. Yes, I was taught that the Bible has certain views on homosexuality. The Bible also teaches us not to judge. It teaches us to love one another as God loves us all. I love my sister, my two best friends and my director dearly. They happen to be gay. So what? While some search for controversy, I hope that my friends and fans who know me, know where I stand.
I have a serious shopping problem now. Each city we go to, my suitcase won't hold the new clothes, so we have to box them up and ship them home.
Growing up, when we'd get gym shoes, my brother and sister would get the name brands. But i said, 'I don't need a name brand. With me wearing it, it makes it special by itself.'
(March 2007) Has completed her first song for her debut solo album, which will be released in October 2007 with the Clive Davis label "Arista Records".
(September 2007) Is currently working on her debut solo album with the Clive Davis label "Arista Records", due to be released in January/February 2008.
(2010) Appeared in a commercial for "Weight Watchers".
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