Jennifer Hudson Wrote a Report At Age 7 Saying She'd Be Famous One Day

Our August cover star and the guest of this week's Ladies First With Laura Brown already knew what was to come.

Jennifer Hudson Ladies First with Laura Brown
Photo: Courtesy of ABDM

In case you didn't already know, Jennifer Hudson isn't someone who scares easily. And as she tells editor in chief Laura Brown on this week's episode of our podcast, Ladies First with Laura Brown she never misses her moment. ("If you give me the opportunity, I'll make it work," she says.)

Proof positive comes in the fact that she manifested her lifelong dream of playing the queen of soul and her idol, Aretha Franklin. During a red carpet interview around the time of her star turn in Dream Girls — in which she played Effie White and won the Oscar at just 25 years old — she was asked what could top that experience. Her response?

''The only thing I can imagine that I will want to do, or that could be anywhere near this, will be to play Aretha Franklin,'" she recalls telling the interviewer. "Fast forward from there, all of the sudden Aretha Franklin wants to meet me."

Then, when Franklin began developing the concept around her own biopic, she asked Hudson herself to portray her, something Jennifer she says, this is one of the few challenges that actually scared her.

"The whole thing is daunting," she told Brown. "Even still to this day, I'm like, 'Lord, what did I do?' Who could ever follow in any footsteps like that? So that's that's what I would call ambition, bravery, or faith. Those are the things that carry me in moments like this."

Our August cover star added that Franklin's vote of confidence in her is what ultimately gave her the courage to take on the role of a lifetime.

"The confidence is in the fact that she said, 'Jennifer, I want you to play me.' And I remember when she called me to say that, and it's like, 'Well ma'am, if you think I can, I'm gonna give it a try.'"

So the Dream Girls star did, in fact, give it the old college try (the understatement of the century) and what resulted was a beautiful portrayal of the musical legend in the upcoming biopic Respect, which chronicles the life and coming-up story of the powerhouse singer — which Hudson says in her August cover story draws many parallels to her own life.

Jennifer Hudson Says, "What Are You Going to Do, Fire Me?" Episode 34: July 13, 2021

InStyle Ladies First with Laura Brown

Duration: 35:54 minutes

This podcast may contain cursing that would not be appropriate for listeners under 14. Discretion is advised

And while that seems as close to perfection as one can get it, Hudson has always allowed herself some leeway to grow through the journey.

"Everything is still a lesson," she explained. "People automatically assume when you've done it, that you're going to come in and know everything. Nope, I am a student. I am here to learn. I am human — teach me, walk me through this."

She continued, "I think it's a mistake to walk in like, 'I got this, y'all can't tell me nothing.'"

And even though the Oscar- and Grammy-winning star allows herself room for mistakes, she always had faith in herself and her gifts. Case in point? She knew she was going to be famous at 7 years old — she even wrote about it in a report for school.

"My teacher told [my mom], 'This little girl knows exactly who she is and what she wants to do and who she's going to be,'" Hudson recalled. "And I wrote, 'I'm going to be rich and famous, and I'm going to be a singer.' And my family, they know, 'if Jennifer say it, it's so.'"

Though she has always moved through life with humility, don't get that confused with self-doubt. "I always knew my gifts will make room for me. Everything I've done, I did it for the experience. So I could look back and say, 'I did what I love to do.'" And sometimes that passion presents itself in her putting the ultimate realest Jennifer straight onto the screen.

"I'm not afraid of naturalness," she said. "Even while we were filming a scene where they said they wanted me to have my hair all over my head. I walked in, straight out the car from the house, just like that. To the point that the director was like, 'Hold on, you sure you want to go on camera like this?'

"I said 'You want it real, right?' We're all human. We all go through this, so I'm not afraid of that. I like real things. I like raw things. What you gonna do, fire me? No, I guess that's the badass in me. What you gonna do other than respect it?"

Listen to the full episode and subscribe on Apple, PlayerFM, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts. And tune in weekly to Ladies First with Laura Brown hosted by InStyle's editor in chief Laura Brown, who speaks to guests like Michelle Pfeiffer, Emily Ratajkowski, Cynthia Erivo, Naomi Watts, La La Anthony, Ellen Pompeo, Rep. Katie Porter, and more to discuss current events, politics, some fashion, and, most importantly, the major firsts in their lives.

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