There are people who dream of becoming celebrities because they equate fame and fortune with an easy, carefree existence. But the hideous tragedy that has befallen Jennifer Hudson, the gifted vocalist and star of such films as DREAMGIRLS, SEX AND THE CITY and THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES is a reminder that achieving the so-called "good life" is no guarantee that you won't encounter real horror and sorrow.
If there was any genuine justice in the world, Hudson would be celebrating right now. Her song "Spotlight" is at the top of Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop chart (and deservedly so, in my humble opinion: great record) and BEES opened to robust business last weekend at the box office. She was reportedly scheduled to travel to Los Angeles Monday to join BEES co-stars Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning and Alicia Keys in collecting an ensemble cast award at the Hollywood Awards.
Instead, Hudson is dealing with the news that her mother, Darnell Donerson, and brother, Jason Hudson, were killed in Chicago Friday, and her nephew, Julian King, is missing (an Amber Alert has been issued). Details are still being pieced together, but Chicago police had confirmed the identities of the victims Friday evening and were reportedly questioning "a number of people in custody," according to a statement.
Hudson, who primarily lives in New York, told the Associated Press in a recent interview that she remains close to her family.
"My faith in God and my family, they're very realistic and very normal, they're not into the whole limelight kind of thing, so when I go home to Chicago that's just another place that's home," she said. "I stand in line with everybody else, or, when I go home to my mom I'm just Jennifer, (so she says), 'You get up and you take care of your own stuff.' And I love that; I don't like when people tell you everything you want to hear, I want to hear the truth, you know what I mean."I met Hudson in Toronto
in early September, shortly before BEES premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and I was struck by her vivacious personality and her eagerness to talk to the press. It's not what you expect from a woman who has already won a best supporting actress Oscar (for DREAMGIRLS) and, thanks to her soaring dual careers, could probably get away with playing the part of the I'm-so-weary diva and dodging the press altogether.
Instead, I saw a young woman -- all of 27 -- who seemed truly astonished that she was the center of attention and was determined to have a good time, even during what must have been a repetitious (even tedious) afternoon of interviews in which she would be asked the same questions again and again by different reporters. Her bright eyes, wonderfully expressive voice, high spirits and down-to-earth humor charmed one and all.
One of the most challenging situations we ever face in life is knowing the right thing to say to someone who has just lost a loved one. What Hudson must be wrestling with right now is unimaginable. I'm hopeful that her faith and her friends will help her through what must be torturous times.