One of the finalists on the third season of Fox’s hit reality/talent-search show “American Idol,” Jennifer Hudson has been creating award buzz from top film critics for her performance as Effie White, alongside Beyonce Knowles and Jamie Foxx in the big screen adaptation of the Broadway musical, Dreamgirls (2006). She has now been named Best Supporting Actress Award by the Washington, DC Film Critics Association (as well as the winner of its Breakthrough Performance Award) and the New York Film Critics Circle, was the runner-up in the Best Supporting Actress category at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and was named Best Breakthrough Performance by a Female by the National Board of the Review. She was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Broadcast Critics Circle and Golden Globes. Additionally, the 5' 9" tall first-time actress has been extolled as the frontrunner for this year's Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Childhood and Family:
In Chicago, Illinois, Jennifer Hudson was born on September 12, 1981. Since the age of seven, she has started singing in the church choir. Her late maternal grandmother, Julia Kate Hudson, was also an avid churchgoer and sang in the choir.
From Idol to Dreamgirls
"The church is my favorite place to sing. My first solo was ‘Must Jesus Bare The Cross Alone.’” Jennifer Hudson.
Having started singing in the church choir at the age of seven, Jennifer Hudson also performed at various clubs, weddings and benefits in Chicago and nearby areas. She landed her first professional role in a local production of the musical “Big River,” and in the Fall of 2002, Hudson became a featured vocalist on the Disney Wonder cruise ship. There, she landed her first significant role as Calliope, the head muse on the Disney line that ran from February 2003 through August of 2003. Recalling her stint at Disney, Hudson stated: "Singing for thousands of people, and to be paid to do this, it’s amazing!"
In August 2003, instead of renewing her contract with Disney, Hudson flew to Atlanta to join an audition for third season of Fox wildly popular talent search show, “American Idol.” During the show, she wowed million audiences with her standout performances on John Lennon's "Imagine," The Four Tops' and Whitney Houston's "I Believe in You and Me," Aretha Franklin's "Baby I Love You," Motown girl group Martha and the Vandellas' "(Love is Like a) Heat Wave," Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing" and Barry Manilow's "Weekend in New England." On April 7, 2004, she astonishingly sang Elton John's "Circle of Life," to which Idol judge Simon Cowell commented that she "finally proved why she was among the Top 12." Despite her brilliant performances, Hudson eventually became the sixth of the 12 finalists to be eliminated from the show when she was voted off on April 21, 2004.
"I have learned a lot. It's been the biggest experience of my life. It's just a blessing from God to just be able to use my talent to make my living - to be on American Idol and be on stage." Jennifer Hudson.
After “Idol,” Hudson has performed at several important benefit concerts, including a performance in the hit Broadway musical "Hair." She was also invited to perform at an event in her hometown alongside such notable artists as Destiny’s Child, Kanye West and others.
In November 2005, Oscar-winning filmmaker Bill Condon cast Hudson to play Effie White, the lead singer and founder of an all-girl R&B singing group called The Dreamettes, in Dreamgirls. In the film adaptation of Broadway's hit musical, Hudson shared the screen with such movie stars as Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles, Eddie Murphy and Danny Glover. Hudson, who reportedly had to gain a total of 20 pounds in order to play the role of Effie, has garnered critical acclaims for her performance. She has been named Best Supporting Actress Award by the Washington, DC Film Critics Association (as well as the winner of its Breakthrough Performance Award) and the New York Film Critics Circle, was the runner-up in the Best Supporting Actress category at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and was named Best Breakthrough Performance by a Female by the National Board of the Review. She was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Broadcast Critics Circle and Golden Globes. Additionally, she has been extolled as the frontrunner for this year's Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
"Effie is such a hugely complex role. She is at once exasperating and heartbreaking. Jennifer emerged as the person who captured both sides." Dreamgirls director Bill Condon.
Back to singing, Hudson sings duet with Meat Loaf on a song called "The Future Ain't What it Used to Be" on the rock singer’s latest album, Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose, which was released in the US on Halloween 2006. She also plans to release an album in late Spring 2007 under Clive Davis' labels, J Records.