Jennifer Hudson: Snapshot

Jennifer Hudson
Date of Birth
September 12, 1981
Birth Place
Chicago, Ill.
Jennifer Hudson's awe-inspiring turn as Effie White in Dreamgirls made the world forget that Simon Cowell told her she resembled "something you should wrap a turkey in." Not only did the American Idol reject upstage an Oscar winner and pop star, she also won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

The Chicago native was eliminated during Idol's third season, and eventually beat 781 hopefuls for her role in Dreamgirls, which led to a Vogue cover and starring role in 2008's Sex and the City movie.

After releasing her self-titled debut album, Hudson got engaged to David Otunga, but in October 2008, tragedy struck when her mother, brother and nephew were fatally shot. In 2009, Hudson thanked her "family in heaven" for her first Grammy and gave birth to her son, David Daniel Otunga Jr.

Jennifer Hudson: Five Fun Facts

  1. The first time Jennifer Hudson heard the Dreamgirls power ballad, "And I Am Telling You (I'm Not Going)", was at 13 when Will Smith was lip-synching to Jennifer Holliday's version on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
  2. Jennifer Hudson lost 60-pounds during American Idol because of stress, and gained 20-pounds (and two sizes) for her role as power singer Effie White in Dreamgirls. She attributed her weight gain to eating "all the cookies, cakes and pies I could."
  3. Jennifer Hudson told Essence that on American Idol, "You become a character – I became the girl in the turkey wrapping" because on one episode, she wore an unflattering outfit that earned her the label from judge Simon Cowell.
  4. When Jennifer Hudson wore the much-maligned Oscar de la Renta chocolate gown with a metallic python cropped jacket to the Oscars ceremony, tabloids reported a feud between Hudson and Vogue editor Andre Leon Talley, who was blamed for the futuristic ensemble.
  5. Jennifer Hudson calls her extra pounds "jelly": "I have a little singer's pouch, and that's where the voice comes from, so you're all just going to have to get used to my jelly," she told Newsweek.

Jennifer Hudson: Biography

late 1980s

Jennifer Hudson

From Church to Disney

South Side of Chicago native Jennifer Hudson, 7, gets her start singing in the Pleasant Gift Missionary Baptist Church choir. As a teen, she works at her local Burger King before starring as the muse Calliope in Hercules A Muse-ical Comedy aboard the Disney Wonder cruise. She considers her six months on the cruise her test for American Idol. "I said, 'If I can get through the ship, that means I'm cut out for Idol,'"she tells the Minneapolis Star Tribune.


Jennifer Hudson


Idol Contestant #34403

Hudson declines to renew her contract with Disney to audition against 11,000 other hopefuls for season three of American Idol in Atlanta. Appearing confident, with a head full of curls, Hudson sings Aretha Franklin's "Share Your Love With Me." Judge Randy Jackson calls her audition "brilliant," and she makes it into the competition.


Jennifer Hudson

April 21

Robbed by Idol

With LaToya London and Fantasia Barrino (who later wins the title), Hudson lands in the week's bottom three spots (left). A media firestorm ensues as Elton John calls the results racist because all three are black and widely considered the show's most powerful vocalists. In the end, Hudson is sent home. "Whatever it is, it was meant to be," Hudson says. "If it was based on talent, I know I was robbed."

Read More on Jennifer Hudson's Life

Photo Credits

Top Left: Naomi Kaltman/Corbis

BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Splash News Online; Ray Mickshaw/WireImage; Ray Mickshaw/WireImage

Edited by Julia Wang

Jennifer Hudson

Celebrity Central / Top 25 Celebs