INT: Jennifer Hudson
There is no doubt that Jennifer Hudson is blessed with a powerful set of pipes! She proves her superior vocal abilities by pouring her heart and soul in every song while demonstrating her dramatic talent in the upcoming Oscar worthy performance as the remarkable Effie in the Broadway musical turned film, DREAMGIRLS.
familiar with the original Broadway production is well aware of the
importance in accurately casting this important character that
represents the heart of the film. With
her audacious and triumphant performance,
I enjoyed meeting Jennifer Hudson last week when she sat down to chat with us about her experience on "American Idol", working with an all-star cast and making her mark in Hollywood with a breakthrough performance immortalizing Effie in the new film DREAMGIRLS. See what she had to say.
So is it what you expected?
This is more than what I expected. I didnít know what
to expect actually.
Did you go after the
Did I go after it? They actually called me to come and
audition for it, but I really wanted to do it. Once I learned
of Dreamgirls and they called me to come out and audition for it.
Binder Casting out of New York asked me to come out to New York and
audition for the part.
What was your reaction
when you found out you got the part?
Oh, I was so excited. The first thing I did was call my
mother (laughs). I said hello, I got the part and it was so
exciting. Had a little intimate party to celebrate it.
What was the nature of
Well, for my first audition they first requested that I did
not sing ďAnd I Am Telling YouÖĒ so they wanted me to sing a
song that would tell the story, that could be portrayed and to draw
people in as a storytelling thing. So I asked if I could sing
the song ďEasy to be HardĒ from the Broadway production Hair and
so I sang that number in the place of ďAnd I Am Telling YouÖĒ
and portrayed it in the same way and I also did the scene of ďWhat
About What I NeedĒ when Effie gets told sheís going in the
background of the group.
What about all this
talk about Oscar nominations?
Wow, goodness, thereís so much excitement going on. I
think that is such a great honor and I canít believe Iím hearing
this, you know? All I wanted was the part so Iíll have to
cross that bridge when I get to it.
Are you superstitious
Um, no. Iím just a person of faith and I think that
if itís meant for me then I guess it will happen, but I try not to
think about it or worry about it too much.
Which category do you
prefer: supporting or lead?
Oh, no, Iím content with whatever (laughs) Iím just in
awe to even be considered so hey.
What is going on with
all the controversy talk with Beyonce?
I donít know, I just think that people just automatically
do that anyway. Anytime something good is going on theyíll
find some way to throw something into there. I donít
understand why it always has to be that way, you know? Itís
an ensemble cast and we all had a great part in it and whatever
happens itís a part of our work as a whole.
Did you ever see the
No, I was born the year it came out so I was a little too
Have you met Jennifer
No, Iíve never met her, but I canít wait.
What was it like to act
with all these big stars?
It was my dream because Beyonce and Jamie are two of my
favorite artists and to be able to work with them and be a part of
such a great cast was an honor really and it was a learning
experience really to just learn from the best.
What did you learn?
Goodness, I mean, just watching how they build their
characters, things like that and just watching how they approach the
characters and stuff like that. They would give me advice like
Beyonce always told me make sure you take your time and evaluate
things before you make a decision and Jamie would always tell me
give 100 percent, never half do anything. And just to watch
them work and figure out, Jamieís an Oscar winner, why? Let
me try and figure that out and learn from him in a steady intimate
Were you familiar with
Before Dreamgirls came out, no I didnít. I knew of
the Supremes. Well, Diana Ross and the Supremes. But
once I started my research I learned of Florence Ballard and read
into her story. She had a hard life and thatís one of the
things that made me angry. I thought that Effie was her voice
and thatís one thing that motivated me to help trigger the emotion
because as I ran through and discovered her story I got very upset
Do you have some
experience acting in school?
In school they always just had me do the solos in the plays.
I didnít get a chance to act. But the only other
acting experience Iíve had thatís still no comparison to this,
was working on the Disney Cruise ship where I would narrate the show
Hercules the musical and I did all the vocals. And I was also
in Big River, but I didnít have any lines to sing from.
Tell us about American
Well I was part of season three and I made it to seventh
place, but I was the controversy girl. I was eliminated.
Simon told me I was out of my league and you might forget the
runner-ups, youíll never see them again, things like that.
But here I am, so.
Everyone was upset when
you were voted off, but if you won do you think you would have had
I donít think so and I wouldnít change a thing so Iíd
rather be a Dreamgirl any day.
Are you going to buy
Simon a ticket to the show?
No, Iím not. I already gave my tickets away, but
Iím sure heís already seen it. It seems like everybody in
Hollywood has seen it by now. But no, Simon is not on my guest
Do you believe that
there is a conflict between church and performing?
No, I mean I donít see the conflict between the two.
If I have to work on Sunday I say Lord I got to go to work today.
Church is my favorite place to sing and be, but I donít have
Talk about your New
Yearís Eve gig?
That gig in particular? Goodness, I always take it one
step at a time. I have to get through this and first and then
Iíll think about whatís next. All I know is I perform here
on the 30th, but Iím not even sure of the full details
of it all.
Itís a big gay party.
So Iím looking forward to it.
Why do you think this
movie has such a huge gay audience?
I donít really know, but Iím on it.
How much fun were the
costumes in this movie?
Costumes were so exciting and the wigs was my favorite and
the makeup. I took a picture of every single hairdo.
Itís a girlís dream to be able to dress up in the different hair
and costumes. I love it.
Do you like singing the
The only time Iíve actually ever sung a Supremes song was
on American Idol and I forgot the words, but I have not sang many of
their songs. I do love their songs, though.
Any music deals of your
own coming up?
I just signed my record deal with Arista records. Clive
Davis. Because itís very fresh still we have not even had
that creative meeting to decide what kind of material is going to be
on the record.
Whitney and Aretha!
When you were filming,
were you guys actually singing as you were recording?
Everything was prerecorded, but I sang along as if it was a
live performance as we were shooting to keep the performance level
up to make it that much more real.
Whatís next for you?
Well, what I want to do is once again like I say do the
album, but I want to balance both movies and music and continue to
do them both. Thatís a little snippet of what Iíd like to
Is there any talk of an
Oh my God, I would love to do that. Thatís something
I really want to do.
Have you talked to her?
Iíve been in concert with her and weíve crossed paths
quite a few times and I just did a tribute to her recently back in
September to air January 9th, but we havenít even
talked about a biography.
Talk about what it was
like playing a mother.
That was one of the more challenging things for me because I
donít have any children and Iíve never been a parent so that was
quite different, but I tried to draw from anything that was close to
me like my sister has a daughter and by me having a nephew Iím
like okay, I know how I am with him so let me just use that towards
that, but that was very different.
What would you ay you
and Effie have in common?
I think my inexperience with American Idol and her career in
musicÖmy journey on Idol and being eliminated from Idol and going
against the odds seeking my dreams and being a dreamgirl. You
know, she was one of the dreams and then she was kicked out of the
group, but she still goes for it.
Talk about the catfight
The ďitís all overĒ scene? It was actually quite
fun. I anticipated it to be not so much fun because itís an
intense scene, but it was a lot of fun to shoot. There was a
lot of ďIím sorry,Ē but we have to be mean to each other now.
There was a lot of that because weíre both like ďOh, I donít
want to step on anyoneís toes.Ē
Have you seen the film
with an audience?
I saw it twice. The first one was cast and crew and the
second was with my hometown of Chicago so I got to see it with them,
but I think it was press.
At that moment of
applause, do you want to get up and take a bow?
Oh, no. I was up in my chair like this about to roll up
and die. Before it came on Iím not ready for it. The
first time I just wanted to stand up and say no, no Iím not ready
for them to see that scene yet so I get really nervous when that
scene comes up.
Have you met Loretta
Oh, I have met Loretta Divine, for real. Sheís
amazing and sheís a beautiful spirit to meet and itís such an
honor to meet her. Just to be in the movie with an original
Dreamgirl. I would love to meet, well, I met Sheryl Lee Ralph,
but I wanted to meet them all.
What do you think about
Sheryl? She seems to have a lot to say about the movie?
I havenít really heard what all she had to say, but I
recently performed for her Divas Simply Singing event and once again
it was an honor to meet her.
Iíve never met her at all. I havenít heard from
her. Miss Ross!
Is this what you vision your type of music?
You hit it on the head, definitely, because I love just real
music and more of the style of what Effie does, but that doesnít
really sell today. Right now, at the same time, Iím
preparing to do my project and Iím okay what am I going to do?
I want to do real music, but I also want to do music that sells
without selling out so Iím still trying to figure out how to
approach this so itís definitely something thatís fresh in my
Why do you think labels
think people canít handle real music?
Well, thereís a time for everything and real music is a
little out though, but I think it could make a comeback and
Dreamgirls is a great way to bring it back and make people
appreciate it because being in one of the screenings, I went into a
couple more but just for the end, and it was the kids of today who
wasnít around when Aretha and Whitney were out, but they received
it so well and I was shocked. Like wow, they taking this in?
So I think this will help to bring it back to being real music and
music that sells.
What do you think of
I donít think this is real music today, thatís my whole
thing. I think the Motown era and the sixties music and time
before the 70ís on back. I
love real music and thatís one of the things I was most familiar
with was the Motown music. Before I even started doing
Dreamgirls, I was very familiar with the music if nothing else.
But there are some artists, like Beyonce or Fantasia that are in
What was the biggest
lesson you learned from Idol?
if I could get through Idol I can get though anything for one.
Idol I learned so much from it, just the experience of it.
Itís about a lot of hard work, like a celebrity prepping boot
camp. Itís nothing compared to this, but itís a good
starting point to teach you so much about the industry.