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CONNECT THE WORLD
Interview with Jennifer Hudson
Aired April 5, 2010 - 16:49:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It would appear they do. And for Jennifer Hudson, it's been the ultimate Cinderella story. Long before "Dreamgirls" made her a household name, Hudson placed a disappointing seventh in the 2004 "American Idol" contest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "AMERICAN IDOL," COURTESY FOX NEWS)
SIMON COWELL, CO-HOST: Let me sum this up for you. I think you're out of your depth in this competition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: But only two years later, she managed to beat more than 780 actors to win the role of Effie White in "Dreamgirls." Despite no previous acting experience, Hudson's performance earned her numerous awards, including the Oscar for best supporting actress.
FOSTER: She went on to perform in two more hit films and successfully recorded her own album.
But in 2008, her life took a painful turn, with the sudden murder of her mother, brother and nephew.
After nearly a year out of the spotlight, Hudson returned to work on a new album and film. The once defeat Dreamgirl who achieved every girl's dream, Jennifer Hudson is your Connector of the Day.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
FOSTER: Hudson has had a meteoric rise, but she's only just getting started. The 28-year-old is playing Winnie Mandela in a biopic on the South African icon. She's also become the new face of Weight Watchers after shedding some 27 kilograms herself since the birth of her son David in August.
I spoke to Hudson a little earlier. And I began by asking why she decided to focus so strongly on health.
JENNIFER HUDSON, RECORDING ARTIST: I'm in a different place in life now. I'm a new mom. And after having my baby and while being pregnant, I'm like, God, I want to take control. You know, after -- after being out of commission and not having your own body for so long, you're like, OK, I want my body back and I want to do something new and I want to do something different. And then I also wanted to be an example for my child and -- and giving him good life habits to grow up with.
So that was like my motivation to do it. And Weight Watchers just happened to be the perfect way to do it and go about it. And it definitely taught me a lot of good things and good habits.
FOSTER: OK. Well, Mark -- on that theme -- he's from Chicago. He asks: "Since weight and body image have been a big part of being in the limelight and how you've dealt with that pressure, if it's there."
HUDSON: Oh. Not for me, because, I mean, coming from Chicago and coming from the background that I come from, I mean what's wrong with size?
And I still feel so that way to this day. Like, I'm -- I'm just as comfortable -- I was just as comfortable, I don't know how many sizes up from now than I am right now. And it's just a matter of -- of comfort.
FOSTER: OK. About your music, so many people have questions about that.
Drey Raglin, for example: "I can't wait for your new album," he says...
FOSTER: What can we expect from you this go around and what was your inspiration for this album?
HUDSON: Oh, my god. I actually want this album to be more of a feel good album. You know, I want you to feel good when you hear this. And I've noticed that the reaction so far to it, I'm at least about, what, 10 songs into this project and the response is amazing to the music. And I'm very, very, very excited about it. And I just hope it's embraced by the fans. But I still want it to be me. And I just, again, hope that the fans will embrace it.
FOSTER: OK. I know you've got a new film coming out, so congratulations to that.
HUDSON: Thank you.
FOSTER: Fantastic news.
HUDSON: Thank you.
FOSTER: Lots of people are looking forward to that.
Gustavo Cruz from Brazil. He says: "What kind of pressure did you feel playing the role of Winnie Mandela?"
That's coming up, isn't it?
HUDSON: Wow! It is a very huge role to take on and I have yet to take that on. I start filming in May. I'm so honored because it is such a big -- such a huge honor to be a part of it. And I take it so seriously and I cannot wait to get into it. And I am nervous about it -- like, oh my god, these are some huge suits to fill again. But I'm -- I'm going for it with, you know, I'm going for everything I have and I'm excited about it.
FOSTER: OK. "American Idol" made you famous, of course. Gustavo Cruz asks: "What kind of advice would you give to the current "American Idol" contestants?"
The show gets bigger and bigger every year, doesn't it?
"Do you feel that they have a bigger chance of being successful if they don't win, like you?"
HUDSON: I -- I do. I mean I think it's all about what you take from your experience, what you learn from it and how you use it. And if they do that the right way -- I'm not saying I'm a genius but -- or anything, but I'm saying like learn from that experience and use it. It's an opportunity. Make it work.
I was like just give me the opportunity and I will make it work.
FOSTER: Asha Ali says that she knows that life has given you some rough moments, as well, and asks: "What motivated you to pull through them?"
HUDSON: I mean, we all -- like they say, no cross no crown. So we all have to have a journey. You all have your ups and downs, you know, but you can't give up. I mean you have no choice but to keep going. Like I might say, you know, I have no choice but to be prepared. And you have to deal with whatever life deals you. And -- and I do that through prayer, through all the support from my family and my friends and my fans. So in that way, I'm so blessed.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
FOSTER: Jennifer Hudson speaking to me earlier.
Well, inspiration comes in many different forms. And our next Connector of the Day, British millionaire John Pedley, a car crash for him made him give up his lavish lifestyle for a mud hut and a children's charity.
Ask him about it. Send in your questions, CNN.com/connect. And that's tomorrow on the program.