Jennifer Hudson, Academy Award winner, singer, and former American Idol finalist stopped by this morning. She opened up to Howard about her desperation to make it big in show business, her time on Idol, and her breakthrough in the movie 'Dreamgirls', where she outshined even Beyonce.
Jennifer grew up in Chicago, where she and her family were very active in their local church. Jennifer sang in choir from the time she could form words, but she was so shy that she never sang with eyes open until she was nineteen. She was also very, very close to her mom – even sleeping in the same bed until age sixteen, until she got too big.
No matter what she did, she always sang. Even at Burger King, using the Drive-Thru mic to serenade her customers. She eventually got some sort of record deal, though the 'company' wasn't what Jennifer would call legitimate. They tried to 'groom' her but she never actually cut any records and they didn't pay her anything. Every time she puts out a new album, they'll pop up and send her notes claiming that they're responsible for her success and threatening to reveal that she used to be heavy-set. Fortunately for Jennifer, everybody is well aware of her weight-loss.
While she was singing away at Burger King, Jennifer's mom told her she should audition for a new show called American Idol. Jennifer had had her fill of small-time talent shows and declined. Of course, the show because phenomenon.
She got a job signing in the Disney Cruise production of Hercules. At the end of that contract, she headed for Idol and for fame.
She did not win her season of American Idol – she didn't even place in the Top 5. She made it to #7 (which she called 'God's complete number'). Jennifer (and Howard) both blame a huge storm in Chicago, which knocked out phone service, for her exit. Her hometown fans couldn't vote for her that night and she went home.
The producers of the movie version of the musical 'Dreamgirls' came calling, though, and wanted her to audition. She was up against over 700 other girls, including Fantasia, who beat her to win American Idol. Jennifer got the role, stole the movie from Beyonce (though she says Beyonce was gracious), and won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
Jennifer went on to appear in the Sex and the City movie (which Howard admitting to seeing twice) and putting out a few hit albums.
Her beloved mother was taken from her, along with her brother and nephew, a few years ago, leaving her heartbroken. Thankfully, Jennifer was able to get through it.