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May 2008

An Interview with Jennifer Hudson
By Wilson Morales

May 7, 2008

Can you talk about your next album and what we can expect?

JH: It’s my first album, not the next. Everyone would say to me, ‘When is your next album coming out?’ This is my first one other than the Dreamgirls soundtrack, but that was Effie on it. Right now, it’s a huge variety of everything, but the first single is ‘Spotlight’ and it has a great pop feel, and it’s still clubbish, and it’s very different. Everybody is so used to or adjusted to the sound of Effie coming from me but it’s going to be very different. I think people will be surprised.

Who are you working with producer-wise?

JH: I’ve worked with everybody it seems like. I’ve worked with Pharrell. I’ve worked with Timberland. I’ve worked with T-Pain. I’ve worked with Diane Warren, and I’ve worked with Stargate, and Ne-Yo.

Are there any guest appearances on the album?

JH: It’s mainly just me. It’s a solo. I did do a duet with T-Pain, and that’s probably the only one. I would love to do something with others, but hopefully there’s room for other albums.

When does the first single drop?

JH: ‘Spotlight’ comes out this month.

Which label?

JH: Arista

I think for a lot of women of color who really loved the show are so impressed to see you join the cast. How is that experience of being a major player in the film?

JH: That is such an honor for me. Like wow. To be the new character, and then to be the African American supporting that character, it’s like, wow! Of all the people they could have chose, I get to be the one and I hope that I get to represent us (African America women) well.

It seemed like the role was written just for you. Did you tailor it once you read the script?

JH: I think that was Michael’s direction and that’s what he wanted. He was saying, ‘We really want you for the role. We hope it works out. We had you in mind when I wrote the character’ and luckily, it worked out.

How did you like dressing up in the wedding dress?

JH: That was so rude. I’m in a wedding dress, wow! Even seeing myself in it, hopefully it won’t jinx me when I get married.

Did you get to keep any of the accessories or dresses?

JH: I am still waiting. Maybe I’m thinking, this is my new strategy, if you write about it and say give Jennifer Hudson the three Louis Vuitton bags, then maybe I’ll get it. I am so serious. Maybe they should make a bag, Louise Vuitton, and I should be the face of it. I just made that up. (Smiles)

Do you know who decided to bring you into the film? Was it Michael or Sarah?

JH: I know it was between the two of them. I don’t know who originally thought of it, but I’m glad they did.

Can you talk about working with Sarah (Jessica Parker)?

JH: That was just amazing just with working with Sarah. It was a lot of fun. I didn’t get a chance to work with the other ladies, but I did get to cross paths with them. It was never really that intense. It was nothing to make me feel intimidated or anything like that. They were always running around singing and harmoning and I loved that. We had a lot of fun together.

Did you guys have a sing-off?

JH: I would just sit and hear them sing, but they would try to get me to sing everyday, and I was like, ‘Really? What do you want me to sing today?’ and then they would sing and I love that, when people sing to me.

How was shooting in New York?

JH: Oh my God! That was so crazy shooting in New York. I’ve only filmed really ‘Dreamgirls’ and I did do ‘Winged Creatures’ but it was small and no one really knew and everything in ‘Dreamgirls’ was on a center stage in a studio and I come here and we’re outside in the streets of New York, and New York is watching me film the movie; and people are stopping me in the me shooting a scene. ‘Oh my God! It’s Jennifer Hudson, can I get an autograph or maybe a picture. Oh my God. There’s a camera. I’m in the middle of a scene.’ (Laughs) I don’t know who to be right now, if I’m supposed to stop and smile for the camera. How do you handle it? So, all of that was crazy. It threw me off the first day, but the next day I was ready for the cameras and all, the paparazzi, I didn’t care. I was smiling for my pictures and ready for Louise.

Can you talk about working on ‘Winged Creatures’ and did you and Forest Whitaker take the film after the both of you won Oscars?

JH: I filmed it a few months after the Oscars. It was somewhere like in June or so.

What’s the story about?

JH: It’s about a man who decides to shoot up a deli store and where all these stories intertwine and how one person’s actions affect me, and my father just so happens to be in that deli. He disappears and I’m in desperate search of him. He is played by Forest Whitaker.

What is next for you?

JH: My next focus is the album. That’s it right now and then maybe later I’ll shoot another film. I did just wrap ‘The Secret Life of Bees’, which will be out on October 17. I’m so excited about that project. My album comes out on September 30, and I leave tonight to promote this film internationally.

How was it working with Queen Latifah and Alicia Keys on ‘The Secret Life of Bees’?

JH: It is so empowering to be to be among strong African American figures. I’m like, ‘Wow, I’m one of them?’ There’s a shot where there’s all of us standing in a line and you could hear everything talking about ‘That’s really powerful’ and to know I’m one of them. I’m looking outside of me and saying to myself, ‘This is Alicia Keys and this is Queen Latifah and I’m standing in the middle of them!’ That was crazy for me. It takes things awhile for me to absorb them and it will be later when I catch on, and I try to live in the moment and that’s when I have moments like that, when I’m standing here with Queen Latifah and Alicia Keys.

Did either one of them talk to you about the transition from music to acting?

JH: Queen Latifah gave me some really good advice. At the moment I can’t remember it but I do remember her giving it to me. I know Alicia gave me a nice little talking to about this album process, because it’s been so long. I’ve been recording weeks after I won the Oscar, but she said ‘It always like a year to do my album’ and it’s just the method on how it works because all of this is brand new to me and all of them have done it before. I would go to them and say, ‘What is going on? What is this?’ and luckily, everybody is always there to help me out.

Did you do any writing or do you want to do any songwriting or anything like that?

JH: For the next album, I do plan on being more involved. For the most part, I came up with all of the subjects. If you know me, you will know which songs came from me, like ‘She had everything to do with this’, but it’s maybe like one or two that will be in there that I actually sort of wrote on a little bit, but other than that, let someone else take care of it.

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