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From 'Dreamgirl' to real woman

Kam Williams | 5/28/2008, 11:39 a.m.
Jennifer Hudson heats things up on screen in "Sex and the City," this summer’s biggest chick flick ...


Jennifer Hudson heats things up on screen in "Sex and the City," this summer’s biggest chick flick 

Jennifer Kate Hudson was born in Chicago on Sept. 12, 1981, to mother Darnell Hudson and father Samuel Simpson. At the age of seven, she started singing in her Baptist church’s gospel choir, honing her vocal skills with the help of her late grandmother, Julia.

After graduating from Dunbar Vocational Career Academy in 1999, the 5-foot-9-inch beauty began her show business career with community theater roles and a stint performing aboard a Disney cruise liner. Her big break came when she unveiled her four-octave range before a national TV audience as a contestant on Fox’s “American Idol” during the smash hit show’s third season. Though Hudson finished seventh, many still consider her arguably the most talented person ever to enter the reality show competition.

Given her strong “Idol” showing, it was no surprise when she brought down the house in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical “Dreamgirls,” delivering a spirited rendition of “And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going” as Effie White, a role that instantly catapulted her into Hollywood stardom and won her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

The strength of that performance kept Hudson’s star on the rise, earning her the role of Louise, the personal assistant to Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Carrie, in the eagerly anticipated “Sex and the City” movie released yesterday — a character writer/director Michael Patrick King created with Hudson specifically in mind.

On the music front, Hudson’s as-yet-untitled debut album is set to be released by Arista Records in the fall — but the first single, “Spotlight,” was leaked May 16 and can be found online (check YouTube for the goods). Hudson recently took a moment to speak to the Banner about everything she’s got percolating.

Have things calmed down for you since winning an Academy Award?

I have had a break. That was crazy, with the whole “Dreamgirls” thing and the Oscars and all that. I was glad to get to come down a bit, because it was like riding a rollercoaster.

How do you feel about following up “Dreamgirls” with “Sex and the City”?

I love it! “Dreamgirls” and “Sex and the City” … that’s hot! I like the idea.

Would you have preferred to do another musical?

No, I’ve been looking for a role in which I didn’t have to sing. I don’t want every role to involve singing. I don’t mind singing in a film, but I want to act, too.

Do you have any songs on the “Sex and the City” soundtrack?

Yes, “All Dressed in Love.” Cee-Lo [of Gnarls Barkley] wrote it, and then I got to sing it. And I think it’s the perfect song, because they took fashion and love and tied them together and made a “Sex and the City” song.

Were you a fan of “Sex in the City” when the series originally aired on HBO?

I had never watched the show, but once I read the script and then started watching the DVDs for the audition, that’s when I fell in love with it.

Was it hard fitting into an established cast [“Sex And The City” stars Parker, Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall and Cynthia Nixon performed together on the cable show for six seasons] as a newcomer?

I was a little nervous during my audition, of course. After that, everybody made me feel very welcome and right at home. It was like one, huge happy family. I felt like the baby of the family.