Today, the world was hit with the sad news of Nelson Mandela’s death. But luckily for Jennifer Hudson, she had the opportunity to study the former South African president’s life and play his ex-wife Winnie Mandela on film.
The 32-year-old actress, who graces the January cover of ESSENCE, opened up to the magazine about the challenges she faced while portraying the iconic anti-apartheid hero.
“I was so nervous about doing a good job that I started working on the accent a couple of months before I even got there,” Hudson revealed in her feature story. “So much was done to suppress Winnie’s voice, to keep her quiet…Winnie’s story needed to be told.”
The 2011 drama wasn’t her only demanding role. She went on to tell the magazine that her heroin-addicted prostitute character in The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete was equally as challenging.
“It was a huge stretch for me to play Gloria,” she said. “The drugs, the tattoos, the prostitution—her life is so different from my own.”
The Grammy and Oscar Award winner said she’s able to play a wide range of characters because she’s” stronger than [she’s] ever been.”
“I spent my twenties figuring out what I wanted to do, and trying everything,” she added. “But by 30, my foundation was set. I became confident and clear about the path I wanted to take…Now I’ve really settled into myself. And I’m stronger than I’ve ever been.”
Check out the full issue on newsstands Dec. 6.
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Photos: Jennifer Hudson
1. 1. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson strikes a pose.
2. 2. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson shared this photo of her and her son, who she affectionately referred to as “Munch.”
3. 3. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson is interviewed about her role in the upcoming <em>Three Stooges</em> movie.
J.Hud shows off her Weight Watchers physique in a pair of sequined shorts and fishnet stockings.
5. 5. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson channels her inner child and writes in the sand on the beach.
6. 6. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson looks surprised. Maybe the news that she’s now a size 0 is finally hitting her.
7. 7. Jennifer Hudson
Does Jennifer Hudson’s fiancé, David Otunga, know she is spending time with this dapper dude?
8. 8. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson relaxes at home on the couch. Who knew celebs really did that?!
9. 9. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson shows off her wild side in this animal-print dress.
10. 10. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson posted this photo of herself. The once plus-sized singer is now down to a size 0.
11. 11. Justin Bieber and Jennifer Hudson
Justin Bieber and Jennifer Hudson were in Washington, D.C. recently to perform for the holidays in front of President Barack Obama and Michelle. In the caption, J.Hud admitted to having a touch of Bieber fever.
12. 12. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson visited the monument, White House and Capitol during her visit to D.C. … well, sort of.
13. 13. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson feigns surprise in this photo whose caption read: "Thank u Neyo for my hat!"
14. 14. Jennifer Hudson
Is Jennifer Hudson moonlighting as a model?
15. 15. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson poses with big David and little David.
16. 16. Jennifer Hudson
Is Jennifer Hudson cheating on her Weight Watchers diet? Not quite. The singer wrote: "Weight Watchers is the greatest thing ever created but…. U gotta share n track a point!"
17. 17. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson shared this cute family photo with her Twitter followers.
18. 18. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson shows off just how much weight she’s lot. That tummy is flat!
19. 19. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson shared this photo of herself in L.A. The singer was in town for the 54th Grammy Awards.
20. 20. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson poses in front of a wall full of Oscars. The caption read: "I have never seen so many!"
21. 21. David Otunga and Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson shared a family photo with her fans on Easter Sunday.
22. 22. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson said her 2-year-old likes funny faces.
23. 23. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson and her four-eyed son get candid.
24. 24. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson clutches her pearls … sort of. The caption for this photo read: "I love sitting on benches , people [watching] on a hot summer day!"
25. 25. Jennifer Hudson
Fans may have to wait for the next Jennifer Hudson film or album. The bride-to-be has been busy planning her wedding.