A year after winning an Academy Award for her breakthrough role as Effie in “Dreamgirls,” Jennifer Hudson is spending her days 30 miles outside of Wilmington, North Carolina, on the set of the 1960s-era film “The Secret Life of Bees.”
Between shots, she spoke with MTV News about her very eventful year in the movie and music industries, as well as her appreciation of “American Idol” — the catalyst for it all.
MTV: Has the excitement that came with your Oscar win faded at all? Are you back to “normal”?
Jennifer Hudson: I think I’m still the same person I was 10 years ago, or before I won the Oscar and all of those things. It still hasn’t hit me — it won’t hit me until maybe next year. Like, did I just win the Academy Award? What?!
MTV: Tell me about Rosaleen, your character in “The Secret Life of Bees.”
Hudson: Rosaleen is a very strong, outspoken, out-acting individual. She is all about her rights and her freedom. And she’s not going to stop for anybody to get it. This is only my fourth film, and one of the biggest characters I’ve faced yet, so it’s a challenge. It’s not easy playing her. But when you do [succeed] and get it across, it makes it all worthwhile.
MTV: And what about your role in the upcoming “Sex and the City” movie?
Hudson: My character is Louise, and she is in love with love. She’s a young, sweet girl — very different from Effie, very different from Rosaleen. I’m in a great portion of the film, to be honest. And one of the only new characters in the movie, I believe.
MTV: It must be great to have such a variety of roles in your first few years of acting.
Hudson: I feel like I’m exercising and I’m expanding my muscle — you know, stretching it out and seeing what’s out there. I don’t want to be safe. I want to take chances, I want to explore, I want to learn, I want to just get my feet wet, hop in there.
MTV: So what’s going on with your music career?
Hudson: I’m working on my album. Lord knows I didn’t expect [to be] singing and acting, so it kind of just, like, split me in two different worlds where I have to cater here and there, so it’s taken awhile because I’m trying to balance the two. I don’t want to record an album just to say I did an album. It has to have something behind it, it has to mean something to me, and it has to be able to make some kind of difference, so I try to take my time in anything I do.
MTV: So how do you balance acting and a music career?
Hudson: Definitely focus on your craft! I don’t like to do them both at the same time, so one has to be on hold while you work on the other. When I’m shooting a movie, I want to be that character and nothing else; when I’m recording, I want to focus on that music and nothing else. Both of them take 100 percent dedication, no question about it.
MTV: Some might ask why you didn’t put out an album right away, to capitalize on your “Dreamgirls” success.
Hudson: Well, my mother always taught me good things come to those who wait. Things take time. I always look for the long term. I’m trying to put out something that’s going to last, that’s going to stay around. I’m not trying to be a one-hit wonder or just a trend. I want to last.
MTV: Does it annoy you when people label you as an “American Idol” success story?
Hudson: It doesn’t bother me at all. I’m just glad to be a success story! “American Idol” was a platform for me to be seen, and many others to be seen. Simon, I think, once said, “You want to take advantage of the opportunity and learn from it and try to build off it, network, use it as a tool.” I took heed to that and I did that, and that is why I’m sitting here talking to you now!
Check out everything we’ve got on “The Secret Life of Bees.”
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