Singer and actress Jennifer Hudson first gained fame as a finalist on the third season of American Idol, but it was her Oscar®-winning role as Effie White in Dreamgirls that launched her singing and acting careers. Gayle talks with Jennifer about her childhood, love life and latest projects in music and acting. Plus, Gayle and Jennifer listen to songs from Jennifer's debut album.
Born into a singing family, Jennifer began singing when she was about 11 years old, and she knew she had talent. "I noticed the reaction of people—it was different from hearing anyone else sing—and how people wanted to be involved," she says. "I was always surrounded with a lot of support." When she was young, Jennifer would daydream of accepting a Grammy® and making music videos. "I would create duets with Whitney Houston and I," Jennifer says. For her self-titled debut album, she collaborated with other big-name talent, including music producers Timbaland and Missy Elliott, songwriter Diane Warren, singer Fantasia Barrino and more.
Though she proved herself a natural on camera in Dreamgirls, Jennifer says she never really considered acting while growing up. Her latest film, The Secret Life of Bees, co-stars Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning and Alicia Keys. "I am so passionate about the film and extremely excited about it," Jennifer says. "It's such a strong ensemble piece. There's not one weak link."
Another aspect of her life that's giving Jennifer joy is her engagement to actor David Otunga. Jennifer and David met through a mutual friend, are both from Chicago and happen to live near each other now. "Everything I sing happens," Jennifer says. "At first, before he came along, I was singing all of these dark songs about the negative ends and aspects of relationships. Then it quickly changed."