Jennifer Kate Hudson is an American singer and actress. She was born in Chicago, Illinois on September 12, 1981 to Darnell Donnerson and Samuel Simpson. She started singing in her church choir as a child and also performed in community theatre. She graduated from high school in 1999 and enrolled at Langston University but left after one semester and transferred to Kennedy–King College. She received her first singing contract in 2002 with an independent Chicago label called “Righteous Records”. The initial terms of the contract were for 5 years but when Hudson wanted to compete on the reality singing show American Idol, she was effectively released from her contract.
Jennifer Hudson auditioned for season 3 of American Idol from Atlanta which was very popular. During the Top 9 contestants episode, she received the highest number of votes for performing Elton John’s hit song “Circle of Life” but just two weeks later she was eliminated from the show. Her exit from the show caused much controversy at the time, especially given the fact that the bottom three contestants were all African American women. Several magazines, including the Los Angeles Times have commented on how Hudson may be one of the best contestants to ever perform on the show and that her exit was untimely and unwarranted.
In 2005, Hudson was cast in the role of Effie White for the musical “Dreamgirls” starring icons such as Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles and Eddie Murphy. She was selected from amongst hundreds of professional singers and actresses, including the Season 3 American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino. Her performance in the movie was critically acclaimed, both as an actress and singer, and won her numerous awards including the Golden Globe Award as Best Actress in a Supporting Role, BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She then appeared in the films “Sex and the City” with Sarah Jessica Parker and “The Secret Life of Bees” starring Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo and Alicia Keys. The film received numerous awards and nominations including several nominations for Hudson. She also starred in the film “Winnie Mandela” based on the life of the South African politician. The film also starred acclaimed actor Terrence Howard and was released in 2013. Although her acting received positive reviews, the film itself was not well received and garnered criticism from the subject of the film itself.
Hudson released her debut album titled “Jennifer Hudson” in 2008. The album was released with the label Arista Records and several of her singles made waves on the charts. She was nominated for three Grammy Awards and won the Grammy for “Best R&B Album”. Her second album was titled “I Remember Me” released in 2011. It received positive reviews from critics and debuted at No. 2 on the US Billboard 200. The album won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Album and was also nominated for Top R&B Album at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards. Her third album is titled “JHUD” and was released in August 2014. So far it has also received generally positive reviews.
Hudson’s life took a tragic turn when her mother, brother and nephew were brutally murdered in 2008. She took a brief hiatus from public life to attend to her family’s needs. In 2010, she became the spokesperson for “Weight Watchers” a company that markets diet and weight loss products, after she lost 56 lbs (25 kg) and eventually went on to lose around 80 lbs (36 kg). She published her autobiography in 2012, titled “I Got This: How I Changed My Ways and Lost What Weighed Me Down” in which she gave details of her weight loss journey. She is engaged to a professional wrestler and Harvard Law graduate named David Otunga and has one son named David Daniel Otunga, Jr. In 2013, Jennifer Hudson was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is one of America’s most beloved media icons at present.