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After winning an Academy Award last year for her powerful performance as “Effie” in the blockbuster hit “Dreamgirls,” Jennifer Hudson knew she had to be strategic about her next movie. Her plan: No singing and go for something that emphasizes her acting skills.
It almost as if she’s having to prove herself all over again. Afterall, she won the Oscar for her first acting gig, exactly how many Hollywood stars can say that? The answer is none. Nevertheless, Hudson has come out of the blocks again scoring another big hit landing a coveted role in the much anticipated female film of the summer, “Sex and the City.”
Hudson plays Louise, an assistant to Carrie, played by Sarah Jessica Parker - the New York socialite and writer in the film adaptation of the hit TV series. Louise has moved to the Big Apple from St. Louis and she did it for love - a theme that strongly resonates in the film.
Here’s something you may find hard to believe: Before she landed the prized role, Hudson had never watched one episode of the show. You should also know that writer/director Michael Patrick King says he scripted the part with Hudson in mind.
“That is such an honor for me. I still can’t believe I’m a part of it.,” said a glowing Hudson as if she was accepting another golden statue. “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 chosen, I get to be the one and I hope that I get to represent us (African America women) well. I’m so honored.”
So, how did she play catch up on the storylines and the characters to fit in with her popular costars including Parker (Carrie), Kim Cattrall (Samantha), Kristin Davis (Charlotte) and Cynthia Nixon (Miranda)? First of all, Hudson’s big sister is a huge fan of the show. Since landing the role, the Chicago native had to keep all the details of her new gig quiet. She couldn’t tell anyone. Yet, she walked around carrying a huge bag full of DVD’s with every episode of the TV show.
“I knew of ‘Sex and the City’ but I had never seen it before. Once they called me for the audition and I read the script, I fell in love with it, and I hate reading scripts I’ll be honest, but I could not put it down. ‘Oh my God, that was so good’ and I had to go back to pages, and keep going. It was hilarious,” said Hudson. “And then I wanted to see the series and I asked for every episode and every DVD and I’m addicted now. I can’t stop watching it. I have the DVDs with me everywhere I go. I carry this heavy bag so when you see it, you know ‘Sex and the City’ is in it.”
As far as playing an assistant, Hudson admits she probably wouldn’t last if that was her real job. “I’m not that great on the computer and I’m certainly not that organized. It was fun playing the role though.”
Perhaps the best part of being cast in “Sex” and getting to see and wear all the hot fashions was the idea of filming in New York City. (“Dreamgirls” was filmed on stages around Los Angeles). “Oh my God! That was so crazy shooting in New York. 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 middle of 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,” said Hudson.
Once paparrazi captured photos of her and linked her to the film, the word was out. She then had to literally avoid her friends and family who where die-hard “Sex” fans. She knew they would pressure her to reveal something regarding the plot. “I had to duck and dodge everybody,” she jokes. “ So, finally I would just tell them, “If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll be a fan of the movie, because it’s true to the series.”
True to the series, Hudson has now become addicted to fashion in real life. “I didn’t think I was until now. I’m really into my purses. I love purses just like Louise. That’s one connection we had together. I guess I’m turning into a label girl. I love my Jimmy Choo bag, and my YSL bag. I’ve come a long way. Normally I would go on the red carpet and I’m like, ‘Who am I wearing? What is this?’ and I’m learning. I’m getting there.”
That’s the thing about Hudson. We have basically watched her become a star . Life since arriving in Hollywood has been pretty much a fairytale; joining the “Dreamgirls” cast, winning a Golden Globe and then an Oscar. Now, we’re all watching her mature professionally and personally. She recently wrapped a few other films including,”Winged Creatures” with Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker and “The Secret Life of Bees” coming out this fall starring Alicia Keys and Queen Latifah. Next up: her long-awaited CD is scheduled to drop next month.
“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,” added Hudson. Assisting the bubbly actress with her freshman release are some of the top players in the game including T-Pain, Pharrell, Timbaland, Dianne Warren and Ne-Yo.
“I’m excited about the CD and I think people are going to say - is that Jennifer Hudson?”
For most of her 26 years, Hudson had thought she’d be a singer. When her hopes were dashed on American Idol (remember judge Simon Cowell told her she didn’t have the chops, but after Oscarr apologized to her on Oprah.), it was her mother who pushed her into acting. “It never occurred to me. My mom would tell me, ‘Jennifer, you could act because I would do some little acting around the house. You were very believable. I think you would be a great actress’ and here I am. Other than that, I had never thought about it.”
Hudson, however, constantly reminds herself she still has many hills she wants to climb. “ I love it. I can’t believe that I get to have both singing and acting and get to balance the two.”
‘I found the love in acting and that’s why I want to do it. The fact, that I can sing too - that’s the icing on the giant cake.”