From placing in the Top 7 to achieving EGOT status, Jennifer Hudson’s career is one of the greatest stories to unfold in Hollywood. The singer-turned-actress' rise is the dream of every newcomer. Still, very few have the perfect combination of good luck, timing, grit, and talent as Hudson did when she first captured the world’s attention on American Idol. And we’ve been enamored with her ever since.
Hudson took the signature phrase “All you have to do is dream” from her Academy Award-winning performance in Dreamgirls to a new level.
Now, for her next venture, the 40-year-old inked a deal with Warner Bros. to land her new daytime show called The Jennifer Hudson Show, which is scheduled to debut on September 12th. It also happens to be her 41st birthday. Her first guest is the man who gave Hudson her first big “No” in Hollywood: Simon Cowell.
In a conversation with BET.com, the Respect actress chats about why she wanted to bring Cowell back for this special moment, life after achieving EGOT status, and what she still hopes to achieve in an already very successful career.
BET.com: Did you seek advice from other talk show hosts before stepping into this new world of hosting?
Jennifer Hudson: I can’t say that I received any advice because the goal is for me to be Jennifer. Talk shows are embedded in us — you can’t go into any industry and not think of Oprah [Winfrey]. You also have Ellen [DeGeneres] and a slew of other hosts who have done this — I consider myself a sponge because I was absorbing everything anyway.
BET.com: What has been your favorite thing in preparing for the show thus far?
Jennifer Hudson: My favorite thing about the preparation is I can be ultimately myself. For many years, I played other people like Aretha [Franklin], Effie, and many other characters — now, I get to be me. It’s my turn to be Jennifer, with the audience able to understand who I am as I continue to do so.
BET.com: How do you want your guests to feel when they sit on the couch with you?
Jennifer Hudson: I want them to feel a part of the show — we’re here together. This is an experience for all of us — if you want to sing, bust a move, dance, or even if you’re hungry [laughs]. I want people to feel like they are home with me, so by the time you finish watching the show, you’ll say, ‘That’s just Jennifer.’
BET.com: You’re now an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) winner, which holds so much power. How does that feel, and how do you manage it?
Jennifer Hudson: Wow. I have a saying that the awards I win that I mount on my wall don’t amount to the person I am. Being a human first is most important to me. Regarding my accolades, while I’m grateful for each one that I’ve received, they came from the love and passion of my purpose. When you allow your desire to lead you, great things happen. I do it for the love.
BET.com: What’s your advice to a future Black EGOT winner?
Jennifer Hudson: I’m the 17th EGOT winner — I feel 18-20 will be here very soon. Own it and break the mold even more — continue to get out there and do what we’re here to do. Let’s become the CGOT, GGOT, JGOT — what you got? [laughs].
BET.com: If there’s one guest you would love to have sit with you, who would it be?
Jennifer Hudson: The first person I wanted is Simon [Cowell] because that’s where I started. I want to go through my career with him and ask how did I do? What’s my grade now? I want to sit with him after all the things I’ve experienced — I’ve said it in the past how I went on the American Idol rollercoaster, and it’s been going on ever since. You all have been on that journey with me. It's [going to be] awesome to kick it off with him.
When you allow your desire to lead you, great things happen.
BET.com: Is there anything on the bucket list for your career that you’ve yet to achieve?
Jennifer Hudson: I’ve been blessed thus far to be able to do all the things I’ve set out to do — I want to make a significant impact with The Jennifer Hudson Show and help change the entertainment industry. I would love to direct one day and see my JHUD Production world expand. This will start a platform to give people the stage to do what they do, and then I can place people in my plays, films, studio, and much more. I want to be able to be ‘that’ girl.
The Jennifer Hudson Show debuts on Monday, September 12th, on Fox Television Station and Heart Television Broadcast carriers. Check local listings for times.