Jennifer Hudson biography
Jennifer Hudson is an American actress and singer. In 2004, she earned a spot on FOX's American Idol, gaining exposure and a loyal fan base. In 2006, she played a Motown-era singer in the film Dreamgirls, for which she won a Golden Globe and an Oscar. She also won a Grammy in 2008 for her debut album. The same year, her mother, brother and nephew were killed by her estranged brother-in-law, with Hudson taking time away from the spotlight to grieve. She has later gone on to star in additional screen projects, including the The Secret Life of Bees and the TV musical Smash.
Jennifer Kate Hudson was born on September 12, 1981 in Chicago, Illinois. She grew up singing in the church choir and graduated from Dunbar Vocational Career Academy in 1999. After singing for a year on a Disney cruise ship, Hudson auditioned for the third season of FOX's American Idol in 2004. As a finalist, she gained exposure and a fan base, then all but disappeared from the limelight after she was eliminated from the show. Controversy ensued over her departure as she was recognized by legions as an outstanding vocalist who could out-sing other contestants.
An Oscar for 'Dream Girls'
Then, in 2005, Hudson beat out hundreds of competitors to win the role of Effie White in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Dreamgirls. Her scene-stealing performance, including an unforgettable, rapturous rendition of "And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going," earned the young singer a Golden Globe and an Oscar in the supporting actress categories.
On May 30, 2008, Jennifer Hudson continued her film work by appearing in the hit movie Sex in the City, playing Louise, the electronically savvy assistant to Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker). Hudson then starred in The Secret Life of Bees in October of 2008 along with Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys and Sophie Okonedo.
In September of 2008, Hudson also released her self-titled debut album, which went on to win a Grammy for Best R&B Album.
Tragedy struck Hudson's life when her 7-year-old nephew, Julian King, disappeared. The boy went missing shortly after Hudson's mother and brother were shot in what appeared to be a double-homicide. King was later found dead as well. In December 2008, police arrested Hudson's brother-in-law, William Balfour, in relation to the killings. He was eventually convicted of the murder of all three family members, and was sentenced to life in prison.
Hudson took significant time off to mourn and heal, and made her first public appearance after her loss when she sang the national anthem during Super Bowl XLIII. In the spring of 2011, she released her sophomore album, I Remember Me, which featured production and songwriting from the likes of Alicia Keys, Diane Warren and R. Kelly. She has also gone on to establish the Julian D. King Toy Drive and Christmas Dinner and the Hatch Day charity to honor her nephew.
Array of Media Projects
Hudson has also become a spokesperson for Weight Watchers and published the 2012 book I Got This: How I Changed My Ways and Lost What Weighed Me Down. She’s started her own clothing line and contributed to the soundtrack for Think Like a Man while continuing to star in film projects as well. She was featured in 2012’s The Three Stooges and portrayed famous South African activist Winnie Mandela in the biopic, Winnie, which has seen a limited release in Canada. In 2013, Hudson appeared as a reoccurring guest star on the television musical series Smash.
Hudson and her boyfriend, David Otunga, have been engaged for several years and have a son. Otunga, a Harvard Law School graduate who starred on the reality show I Love New York 2, is a WWE wrestling star and has entered the world of acting with a role in the film The Call.