Entering the second year of the global coronavirus pandemic, Black-owned businesses and small businesses have suffered a great deal, and Jennifer Hudson is stepping up to help the best way she can.
Teaming up with Mastercard in February, the latest initiative is meant to drive financial inclusion and small business advocacy efforts. This includes the company's $500 million commitment to help close the racial wealth and opportunity gap for Black communities across the country.
“To think small businesses have been suffering for the past year, so I feel like it is right on time, and is very necessary and needed,” Hudson tells BET.com.
An additional $250 million investment will also support Black-owned small business development. And a new platform that spotlights women-owned businesses leading the pack and encouraging consumers to support them has also been unveiled.
The Mastercard campaign features a performance from the Grammy Award-winning artist as she sings the Motown classic, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” The track serves as a visual journey that spotlights business owners from across the country who have faced adversity and their version of “mountains,” but have continued to thrive despite it all.
For Hudson, 2021 comes with a few accomplishments that her fans are looking forward to and she credits some trailblazing Black women who are some of her role models.
“Oh my goodness. There's so many; I feel like that's what is the driving force for me, having so many great examples from everyday people, like my teachers growing up, or my own family,” she says, thanking her cousin Marita Hudson who was once a publicist for Ebony Magazine.
When it comes to starring as Franklin in the highly-anticipated biopic Respect premiering in August, Hudson is still in awe that she was handpicked by the illustrious singer and is sure that she is pleased with her performance.
“What touched me and got to me was her story. Like ‘wow, this is why she picked me to play her.’ And being able to tap into that from an honest perspective in a very real way. And to be able to tell her story in that way,” she continues. “The connection of the church, having a very similar background and being able to relate with that and draw from that, I feel like she would be proud of that representation.”
Hudson’s also has some words of motivation for Black women who are breaking the music or entertainment industry.
“Persistence, persistence,” she says. “I always say if you keep at it, it has no choice but to give in. And also remember why you do what you do.”
The multi-talented entertainer explains that once you get into the business to remain focused on the love of your passion and steer clear from the noise around you.
Additionally, in her downtime, Hudson plans to watch the latest season of American Idol—the show that introduced us to the singer. She jokingly tells BET.com that she is on the search for her protégé, the next Jennifer Hudson.