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What's Next For Jennifer Hudson?
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In The Three Stooges movie, the nuns at the Sisters of Mercy Orphanage include (from left) Kate Upton, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Hudson and Larry David.  (Photo by Peter Iovino)
By Walter Leavy

   After Jennifer Hudson sat in the courtroom to listen to 11 days of heart-wrenching testimony, the end finally came when William Balfour was convicted of killing her mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew. With her attention focused squarely on the legal procedures, practically everything else in the entertainer’s life came to a complete stop.
   However, now that the verdict is in and the trial is over, fans of the world-renowned star want to know what’s next for her. They want to know how long will it take before she gets back to “normal,� knowing that one doesn’t get over such a tragedy, but with time and support, one can get through it. It’ll be no different for Hudson, who has movie, music and other commitments that will keep her busy. And many agree that the immediate immersion into her work will make her emotional transition a bit easier.
   So, what’s on the horizon for the Chicago native who has become an international treasure? 
  Jennifer Hudson has proven to be a woman with few limitations, and her multiple talents continue to reveal her––some observers say––as “a modern-day Renaissance woman.� She’s a Grammy Award-winning singer. She’s an Academy Award-winning actress. She’s a best-selling author. And she’s the national spokesperson for Weight Watchers, which was instrumental in her amazing weight loss.
   Even though she could rest comfortably on her laurels, the singer-actress recently took on a new and entirely different challenge––comedy. In the movie The Three Stooges, which is a tribute to the classic hijinks of Moe, Larry and Curly, Jennifer plays the part of Sister Rosemary, one of the nuns at the orphanage where the toddlers are left on the doorstep. While growing up there, they create havoc and Hudson is in the midst of their continuous misadventures. She and Jane Lynch as Mother Superior and Larry David as Mother Mengele bring their own brand of humor to the Stooges’ hilarious escapades in the movie that’s in theaters now.
   As has been the case in approaching all of her projects, preparation was the key for Hudson when it came to The Three Stooges. But even though she was prepared to tackle her first comedic role, there still was some apprehension about stepping into an arena that was so different from anything she had done before. Plus, there was some sentiment attached to her involvement in the film. 
   “What I remember most about The Three Stooges while growing up was hearing my mom speak of this classic show,� Jennifer says. “That was her favorite thing back in the day. She used to always tell me about it. That was one of the things that drew me to the part.�
   Unfortunately, Jennifer’s mother wasn’t able witness her performance in that part. But Hudson knows that one of the Stooges’ biggest fans would have been filled with laughter and would have been proud to see her daughter associated with a classic that has entertained generation after generation after generation. And thanks to Hudson’s involvement, she’s helping to bring the Stooges to an entirely new audience.
   Although Jennifer’s comedic debut is continuing to bring her new accolades, perhaps nothing has gained her more attention than her personal transformation, including losing 80 pounds and embracing a healthy lifestyle. It started when she made up her mind to change. First and foremost, she says, changing one’s behavior is the key to losing weight. Further, it’s critical to eliminate certain habits that will prevent your success.
   What worked for Hudson, she says, was the combination of a healthy diet, regular exercise and the determination not to give up. She chose the Weight Watchers program to help with her journey to becoming healthier and gaining more control of her life. But like everyone else who tries to lose weight there were times when her resolve weakened. Even so, she didn’t quit. She had decided that losing weight would be all about her and her goals, not what others thought the process should be.
   Now that Jennifer has reached a level that she’s working to maintain, her best advice to anyone who’s trying to lose weight is to set sensible goals that are achievable. Don’t try to do too much too quickly, she says, and make the process work for you. 
  The actor/singer was so pleased with her transformation that she has chronicled it in her book, I Got This, an inspiring story that also recounts her journey from her Baptist church choir to American Idol to music and movie successes to embracing a healthy lifestyle. She wrote the book, she says, hoping that it would help readers find the path to the new person they want to become, especially those who struggle with weight issues.  
   “I can remember when I first started, the first time I put on my gym shoes and [decided] to work out. I never would have guessed that me getting up off the couch and saying this is what I’m going to do for myself would inspire so many people,� she said while promoting the book. “I’ve been the big girl and now the new me, whatever that is, and I get to tell what it’s like on both sides. And in talking about my struggles, I’m sure that some will be able to identify with that. One of the main things I wanted to focus on was helping people realize they should do what works for [them], do what you want for you.�
   It was during her pregnancy that Hudson came to the realization that some changes had to be made in her life. “I was pregnant [when] I realized I wanted to get healthy. I was getting ready to have my baby, and I wanted my body back,� she says. “I was like, ‘Wait, why am I wearing the same clothes I wore before I was pregnant? I wanted to set an example for my son. What I’m most proud of is the fact that I said, ‘Okay, this is something I want to do, and this is something I want to change.’�
   Even with the book, the promotional tour associated with its release, the movies and her responsibilities as a spokesperson for Weight Watchers, Jennifer hasn’t neglected her music, the element that launched her to superstardom.
   If anyone had forgotten how distinct and powerful her voice is, she delivered a strong reminder at the Grammy Awards when she sang “I Will Always Love You� in a tribute to Whitney Houston. More recently she joined Elton John, Sting, James Taylor and Bruno Mars at the Revlon Concert for the Rainforest Fund at Carnegie Hall. And her latest CD, I Remember Me, continues to climb the charts, thanks to such tunes as “Where You At,� “I Got This� and “No One Gonna Love You.� In another project, she joined Ne-Yo and Rick Ross to perform the title song to the recently released movie Think Like A Man. 
   “This album really captures Jennifer’s amazing signature sound doing material that’s totally worthy of her, “says Clive Davis, chief creative officer of Sony Music Entertainment and the album’s producer. “It’s all very special.�
   Just like the album, Hudson’s personal journey has been a special one too, one that will soon add a new chapter when she marries her fiancé David Otunga, a Harvard Law School graduate, World Wrestling Entertainment star and the father of their young son. She’s not sharing much information about the upcoming event, only saying that the wedding will be held in Chicago.
   Until that happens, speculation and anticipation will run rampant as fans wait for what is likely to be one of the city’s most talked-about events. 
   Hudson understands that the fans’ excitement and their desire to know all about her are byproducts of what she does and come with living life under the bright lights. More importantly, she has been able to keep her priorities in order. She loves the music, the movies, the books and living the celebrated life of an entertainer. But in the midst of all of this, her most important project has been––and continues to be––her family. (Could a brother or sister be on the way to join little David?) 
   With her commitment to family, career and a new healthy lifestyle, Jennifer is reaping all of the benefits of her dedication and devotion. She has her life under control because she took control. So when she sings “I Got This,� it’s not just a song, it’s a powerful, personal anthem.

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