Jennifer Hudson: "I make choices thinking about my family and my son."
At age 33, Jennifer Hudson is a Grammy-winning singer and Oscar-winning actress. She recently had a role on Empire and is set to star in the upcoming Broadway revival of Oprah Winfrey's The Color Purple. Essentially: She's on a roll. But more importantly, Jennifer is relatable. She is Mommy to 5-year-old David. She is engaged to her fiancé, professional wrestler David Otunga—and has been since 2008. As is the norm among young mothers, she's in no rush to get married. I met Jennifer at the launch of Johnson's So Much More campaign, encouraging moms like her to make everyday routines into teachable moments. She makes people feel like they could be her friend, and when you do meet her in person, she makes it feel as though you already are.
P: It's so exciting for us to talk to you and explore this part of your life as we watched you grow from American Idol.
JH: Now I'm a mom.
P: Yes. We feel like we're following your story. But there have to be things we don't know. What's something we don't know about you?
JH: Goodness. I've always felt as though I'm an open book so that's always been a hard question to answer. What you see is what you get.
P: Well, you said that you like to draw.
JH: If I could, I'd draw all over these walls. I call it my inner-peace finder, when I want to escape the world. I don't like [my drawing] to be judged. I like it just for myself. It's my escape. When I was a kid I drew a whole lot more. Now I've been drawing all over my baby's room and he sees that. He's exploring himself as an artist. It's so cute.
P: Do you have any guilty pleasures?
JH: My guilty pleasure is chocolate if that counts. I have to have my chocolate. Again, it just calms me and I love it.
P: David is 5. Does he like school?
JH: I can tell by the way he gets up in the morning that he's excited to go. He hops right up. You know, "Mommy, school is cool."
P: You're obviously a very busy woman, partnering with Johnson's and working on The Color Purple. How did being a mom factor into the decision to take a job in New York City?
JH: I wanted to be able to give David an environment that is more normal, where yes, Mommy's working, but she's coming home at night, every night. This was the perfect timing for that because he's older now, he's in school, and this way I can go to work and come home.
P: Was Broadway something you always wanted to do? Were you inspired after Dreamgirls?
JH: I think it's every actor's dream to do Broadway. It's something I've always wanted to do. I said when I turn 35, and it's almost dead on. Just a year early. It will be when I turn 34. So it's perfect timing, like everything else that I dream up. Everything happens at the right time.
P: Recently you released your third album, performed at the Kennedy Center Honors, and were a guest on the new hit Empire. Where do you find your creative energy? What inspires you?
JH: Well, first of all, I love love love what I do, and I love being around others who are extremely passionate. I have a respect for makeup. I have respect for fashion. And seeing people being passionate about what they do inspires me. So being around people who are extremely passionate about what they do inspires me to be more passionate and creative, if that makes sense.
P: How does being a mom affect how you pick your projects?
JH: It affects everything. I make choices thinking about my family and my son.
P: When was the last time David made you laugh until you cried?
JH: Oh gosh. He makes me laugh all the time. But um, there was a time I put a ring in my nose and in my lip and walked in and he was like "Mommy! What's on your face?" And I was like "What are you talking about?" He got all upset and was like "Mommy! Take that out. I don't like that." He's much more conservative than I am! He has a very big opinion about what I wear. He can basically be like, go inside and put some clothes on. It's funny how he is.
P: Now think a few years back. What was the funniest potty-training moment you had with David?
JH: Well, it's actually more now. Whenever we're out and he'll go on a public toilet and it automatically flushes, he'll pop up. "Mommy! What's that?!" It's so funny. It's like "Baby, it's just flushing."
P: What's your favorite song to sing to him?
JH: I'll sing "If This Isn't Love." That's one of my songs. And he just loves it. He starts bouncing all around when I sing it. And he feels it's his song. "Mommy! Sing me my song."
Ruthie Fierberg is an editorial assistant at Parents. Though she does not have children of her own, she's practically been raising kids since her first babysitting job at age 11. She is our resident theater aficionado and can be found constantly running around New York City to find the best new show, the most awesome dance party, or the hottest Bikram yoga studio. Follow her on Twitter @RuthiesATrain.
Photograph: Jennifer Hudson, Courtesy of Johnson's