Jennifer Hudson is an American actress and singer who first came to fame as one of the finalists on the third season of the television series American Idol; before going on to star as Effie Melody White in the musical film Dreamgirls, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in 2007.
Hudson was born in Chicago, Illinois. She attended Dunbar Vocational Career Academy, where she graduated in 1999.
After seeing Hudson's performance in Dreamgirls, American Idol judge Simon Cowell taped a congratulatory message to her, which aired on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
With the March 2007 issue, Jennifer Hudson became the third African American, and the first African American singer, to grace the cover of Vogue magazine.
Hudson auditioned for the third season of American Idol in Atlanta, Georgia. She was a member of the first group of semifinalists.
She was not voted through to the final round, although she was brought back on the wildcard round and put through as a finalist by contest judge Randy Jackson.
Hudson struggled to gain popularity in the early stages of the live shows, receiving the second-lowest number of votes in two of the first three shows.
However, after a change in song choices, she soon became a favourite to win, receiving the highest number of votes on one occasion.
Among Hudson's performances on the show was her rendition of Elton John's "Circle of Life" on April 6, 2004. American Idol judge Simon Cowell commented that she "finally proved why she was among the Top 12" and referred to the performance a week later as "sensational".
On April 21, 2004, Hudson became the sixth of the 12 finalists to be voted off the show, finishing the competition in seventh place.
It was one of the most controversial votes in the show's history where favourites "the three Divas" Fantasia Barrino, Latoya London and Hudson received the lowest number of votes.
Ryan Seacrest announced that the bottom 2 breakdown between Fantasia Barrino and Jennifer Hudson was the most marginal votes ever in the history of the 1st three seasons of American Idol, and that Fantasia "barely survived" Top 7 week.
It was also announced that Hudson received the highest number of votes during the top 8 movie night.
In November 2005, Hudson was cast in the prized role of Effie White, the role originally created in a legendary Broadway performance by Jennifer Holliday, for the film adaptation of the musical Dreamgirls.
Hudson won the role over hundreds of professional singers and actresses.
Filming of Dreamgirls began on January 9, 2006, and the film went into limited release on December 25, 2006 and national release on January 12, 2007.
Hudson has won particular praise for her show-stopping onscreen rendition of the hit song, "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going", the signature song of the role, which had earlier been recorded, and had already reached the status of musical standard, because of the definitive performance of Jennifer Holliday.
The New York Observer described Hudson's performance of the song as "five mellifluous, molto vibrato minutes that have suddenly catapulted Ms. Hudson... into the position of front-runner for the best supporting actress Oscar."
Newsweek said that when moviegoers hear Hudson sing the song, she "is going to raise goose bumps across the land."
Variety wrote that Hudson's performance "calls to mind debuts like Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl or Bette Midler in The Rose, with a voice like the young Aretha."
As Effie White, Hudson has garnered 29 awards from film critics as Best Supporting Actress and Breakthrough Performer of 2006.
She won a Golden Globe Award as Best Actress in a Supporting Role, dedicating the award to Florence Ballard (upon whom her Dreamgirls character was based), as well as friends Jasmine Trias, Fantasia Barrino, and the rest of the American Idol Season 3 finalists.
In addition, she has been named Best Supporting Actress by the Broadcast Film Critics Association and also by the Screen Actors Guild.
On February 7, 2007, Hudson was named Best Supporting Actress and Best Breakthrough Performance by the Black Reel Awards, awarded by the Foundation For The Advancement Of African-Americans In Film.
On February 25, 2007, she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in this film. At 25 years old, Hudson became the eighth youngest winner of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
She became only the third African-American to win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, after Hattie McDaniel for Gone with the Wind and Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost.
Since Halle Berry remains the only African-American actress to win Best Actress, Jennifer also became the fourth African-American actress to win an acting award in Oscar history. She was also the first African-American to win an Oscar for his or her screen debut.
Currently, she is also the only person to have gone from participating in a reality television series to becoming an Academy Award winner.
During her acceptance speech Hudson said through tears of joy, "Oh my God, I have to just take this moment in. I cannot believe this. Look what God can do. I didn't think I was going to win.
"If my grandmother was here to see me now. She was my biggest inspiration."
She also concluded her speech by thanking Jennifer Holliday.
Hudson's version of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" debuted at number 98 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the January 13, 2007 issue. The "Dreamgirls" track has since become Hudson's first Top 10 hit, but not on the Hot 100, as the track registered a new peak at #7 on the Billboard Hot Adult R&B Airplay chart on February 24, 2007.
The track has also reached #14 on the Hot R&B/HipHop Songs chart, and remixes of the song have seen Jennifer reach the #1 position on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play Chart.
In addition, Hudson was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on June 18 along with 115 other individuals for 2007.
In 2008, Hudson appeared in Winged Creatures, a film based on the novel by Roy Freirich, with Forest Whitaker, Guy Pearce, Kate Beckinsale, Dakota Fanning, Josh Hutcherson, and Jackie Earl Haley.
She also played Carrie Bradshaw's assistant in the Sex and the City film.
Hudson is being considered to play Aretha Franklin in a film version of the autobiography, Aretha Franklin: From These Roots. Hudson has also expressed interest in starring in a remake of The Jackie Robinson Story.
Missy Elliott has tipped Hudson to play her in a movie of her life. She said, "Being as she's a heavier-sized artist, she is in the same lane as I was when I first came out. She'd be closest to me."
Hudson recorded "Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)", originally by Gladys Knight & the Pips, for American Idol Season 3: Greatest Soul Classics — the official American Idol album for the 3rd season.
She is featured in a duet, "The Future Ain't What it Used to Be" on Meat Loaf's Bat out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose album.
She also performed the song "Easy To Be Hard" on the Actors' Fund benefit recording of the musical Hair and she is featured on Ne-Yo's second album Because of You on the track "Leaving Tonight".
Hudson has also recorded a song with rapper Papoose, titled "Special".
In September 2006, Hudson performed the song "Over It" live on Fox Chicago Morning News. In the interview she stated the song would be included on her debut album, to be released in early 2007 however this was before she signed with Arista.
In November 2006, Hudson signed a record deal with Arista Records and is currently working on her debut album and has recently finished recording one song entitled "Depreciate."
The album, which had previously been given a November 2007 date, was released in the first quarter of 2008.
Hudson has been dating maintenance engineer James Peyton since 1999, when she was 18. They both hail from Chicago.
When asked if they had any plans to marry, Hudson declared that "we are happy with the place we are right now, but perhaps we will tie the knot someday. One thing's for sure, I definitely won't be popping the question!".