Rain Before Rainbows

Not Quite the Next American Idol

It took a giant leap of faith for Jennifer Hudson to leave a successful career performing on Disney's cruise line for a simple audition, especially since seventy thousand other singers were also trying out. Still, Hudson flew to Atlanta and auditioned for the television show, American Idol and the chance to go to Hollywood. Her gamble paid off, and she landed a spot as one of the show's top twelve performers. Simon Cowell, a judge for the show, told Hudson that she was “out of her league.” As if to prove his point, she twice landed in the bottom three, but then received enough votes to remain on the show. On the sixth episode, she sang “Circle of Life” and managed to impress the song’s writer, Elton John. Revising his initial opinion, Cowell proclaimed that the singer had “finally proved why she was among the top twelve.”

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Hudson was stunned and disappointed when the next night she found herself once again in the bottom three and ended up being cast off the show. She managed to smile when Fantasia Barrino, Hudson’s companion at the bottom and who would become the eventual winner, clutched her tightly and told her that she would “always be my American Idol.” But when the cameras were turned off, Hudson's true feelings were revealed. “I cried all the next day,” Hudson later admitted. “It definitely hurt.”

About a year later, after Hudson had finished touring with the other American Idol contestants, a New York casting agency asked her to try out for a role in an upcoming movie, Dreamgirls. After two auditions, and two rejections, she was was asked to try out once more. The third time was definately the charm — she landed the role of Effie White in Dreamgirls. Hudson beat out almost eight hundred other people, including Fantasia Barrino. After the movie proved to be a huge success, Cowell admit on national television, “I’d like to be the first to admit a massive dose of humble pie. That was extraordinary, Jennifer, and I feel very proud of you.”

To date, Hudson has won more than eighteen awards for Best Supporting Actress or Best Breakthrough Performance from organizations such as New York Film Critics, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the Southeastern Film Critics Association, and the National Board of Review. She has won an Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress, an NAACP Image Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Movie, and a British Academy Film Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.


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