Jennifer Hudson: How Dreamgirls Changed Everything

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It has officially been 15 years since the legendary film adaption of Dreamgirls was released. The film is absolutely stacked, featuring a star-studded cast with actors and musicians such as Beyoncé, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover, Anika Noni Rose, and Keith Robinson.

Adapted from the original Broadway musical, Dreamgirls is inspired by the history of Motown and The Supremes.

Anika Noni Rose, Beyoncé Knowles, and Jennifer Hudson star in DreamWorks Pictures' and Paramount Pictures' big-screen version of the Tony Award-winning Broadway sensation DreamgirlsLeft to right: Anika Noni Rose, Beyoncé Knowles, and Jennifer Hudson star in DreamWorks Pictures’ and Paramount Pictures’ big-screen version of the Tony Award-winning Broadway sensation Dreamgirls (Credit: DreamWorks Pictures)

The film centers around the R&B girl group called The Dreamettes, following them along with their careers through the 1960s and 1970s, showing the evolution of Motown throughout the years.

The most astounding performance in Dreamgirls has to go to Jennifer Hudson, who played the role of the Dreamettes’ leading lady, Effie White, who finds herself going through many trials and tribulations as the Dreamettes rise to fame.

Hudson’s portrayal of the talented Effie White is one of the most breathtaking film performances of the early 2000s, even netting her an Oscar — based on her emotional rendition of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”, her win is no surprise!

Shockingly, Dreamgirls was Hudson’s film debut

Jennifer Hudson first entered the spotlight in 2004 when she was 23, as she competed in the long-running singing competition, American Idol. She was a fan favorite while on the television show, winning high numbers of votes from fans.

Beyonce Knowles, Anika Noni-Rose, and Jennifer Hudson attend the premiere of "Dreamgirls"Beyonce Knowles, Anika Noni-Rose, and Jennifer Hudson attend the premiere of “Dreamgirls” at the Odeon Cinema in Leicester Square in London on January 21, 2007 (Credit: Daniel Deme / WENN)

To great shock, she was eliminated, ultimately receiving seventh place. Her loss didn’t affect her career — in fact, she is considered to be one of the most successful American Idol competitors of all time, along with season one winner Kelly Clarkson and season four winner Carrie Underwood.

Fans took notice of Hudson’s powerhouse vocals. “When I was on American Idol, I would see articles saying ‘Jennifer Hudson for Effie White,’” Hudson recalls.

“And I was like ‘Who’s Effie White?’ I didn’t even know who Effie White was. I knew the music, but never the storyline or the character.”

“I have never experienced anything of the extent that Effie went through, but everybody has been rejected. So, I used that. I was like, ‘Oh, that’s what I’ve been rejected from’,” Hudson told ABC News about the overweight lead singer of the Dreamettes.

“[Weight] is definitely a part of the industry, but it keeps you separated, and helps you stand out from other people,” Hudson added about her weight.

“Everybody is little, why do I have to be little, too? They need some normal-sized people around here, so that doesn’t bother me at all.”

It was not just the fans who saw Hudson’s endless potential. While on American Idol, the singer also caught the eye of casting directors — within the next two years, she was auditioning for Dreamgirls.

Anika Noni Rose as Lorrell Robinson, Jennifer Hudson as Effie White, and Beyoncé as Deena Jones in DreamgirlsAnika Noni Rose as Lorrell Robinson, Jennifer Hudson as Effie White, and Beyoncé as Deena Jones in Dreamgirls (Credit: DreamWorks Pictures)

According to director Bill Condon, Hudson’s initial audition for the film was. . . not great. This was understandable, considering she had no prior film experience and had only just become accustomed to the limelight.

The auditions for Dreamgirls were rigorous, and Hudson did at least three separate auditions. Condon told Bustle that she seemed “unprepared” in that first audition, saying that it was likely due to nerves. “It’s hard to walk into a room and sing ‘And I’m Telling You,’” he said. “I think she got a little lost in the middle of it.”

“I felt like that whole audition lasted a good six hours,” Hudson told EW. “I didn’t even know what a screen test was at the time. I was told to know the song inside and out because for my original audition I didn’t have all the sheet music so I didn’t know the song all the way through.”

Jennifer Hudson at the premiere of DreamgirlsJennifer Hudson at the premiere of Dreamgirls at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City, where it received a standing ovation (Credit: WENN)

“I felt like I sang that song for about six hours straight,” she continued, “and I remember them saying, ‘her voice was the only voice that sustained all the way through.’”

Despite Hudson’s rough first audition, Condon says that he and the rest of the film crew had the singer as their first pick for the role and knew she had great potential.

“She wasn’t great that day but we wanted her to be and knew she could be,” Condon said.

Jennifer Hudson at the Los Angeles premiere of DreamgirlsJennifer Hudson at the Los Angeles premiere of Dreamgirls held on December 11, 2006, at the Wilshire Theater in Beverly Hills (Credit: Nikki Nelson/ WENN)

Hudson proved the team right, as she got better and better with each audition. For her final screen test, Hudson wore a wig and costume to get into the role as she sang. It was then that the singer truly won the role. At only 25, Hudson was starring in her first major motion picture.

The never-before-seen footage of Hudson’s auditions and screen test were released in a special edition Blu-Ray set of Dreamgirls in 2017.

In the footage, Hudson sings “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” with only a piano to accompany her. Hudson’s performance is raw and vulnerable, making it obvious to fans why she won the role of Effie White.

Though Jennifer Hudson had never seen the Broadway version of Dreamgirls and did not know what the story was about, she loved the music. “I’ve always been a big fan of Jennifer Holliday, who originated the role of Effie White on Broadway. I always followed her music and that’s why I knew of the music from the play, but I didn’t know the story. And I would sing it all the time,” Hudson remembered.

Shooting Dreamgirls was a big change for Hudson, who said “all of it was just a whole new experience for me.” She had no idea just how much she was taking on by landing the leading role, but she said that her newbie status and newfound fame were to her benefit — at least when compared to her A-list costars.

“I felt as if I’m good because no one’s looking for me,” she said. “You got all these megastars in it from Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover, Beyoncé Knowles, and Jamie Foxx — no one’s thinking about me. So I was able to do my work without having any pressure.”

Director Bill Condon, Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, and Danny Glover promoting Dreamgirls in BerlinDirector Bill Condon, Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, and Danny Glover promoting Dreamgirls in Berlin, Germany on January 19, 2007 (Credit: WENN)

The lack of pressure paid off — Hudson’s gripping performance eventually won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the role, becoming the youngest black person to win in a competitive acting category.

Jennifer Hudson’s performance as Effie White in Dreamgirls shot her from American Idol notoriety to international superstardom. Since then, she has released three albums, two of which reached certified Gold status.

She has also been seen many times on both the silver and the small screen, with roles in titles such as Chi-Raq, Sing, Cats, Hairspray Live!, and serving as a judge on both The X Factor and The Voice.

Jennifer Hudson and Brittany Snow at the world premiere of the Lifetime Original movie event "Call Me Crazy: A Five Film"Jennifer Hudson and Brittany Snow at the world premiere of the Lifetime Original movie event “Call Me Crazy: A Five Film” at Pacific Design Center Silver Screen Theater in Los Angeles on April 16, 2013 (Credit: Apega / WENN)

In 2013, print on print was a huge trend, but Jennifer Hudson took things too far with her leopard and polka dot print ensemble, which she wore at the premiere of the American drama anthology television film ‘Call Me Crazy: A Five Film’ in Los Angeles.

Jennifer Hudson styled her leopard print top with a black braJennifer Hudson styled her leopard print top with a black bra (Credit: Apega / WENN)

The then 31-year-old award-winning actress and singer wore an Emanuel Ungaro Fall 2013 ensemble, which perfectly accentuated her curves in the right places.

While the pieces comprising this outfit could’ve been phenomenal if styled separately with more complementing pieces, we don’t think that they looked great together. What do you think?

Jennifer Hudson flaunts her legs in an outfit from Emanuel Ungaro’s Fall 2013 collectionJennifer Hudson flaunts her legs in an outfit from Emanuel Ungaro’s Fall 2013 collection (Credit: Apega / WENN)

Emanuel Ungaro’s fashion creations are usually very trendy – but preferably not styled together like in Jennifer’s ensemble.

If you’re looking for a polka dot skirt to add to your wardrobe, then check out these pieces that we’ve selected for you:

Topshop Polka Dot A-Line Skirt in Black, Joseph Minnie Skirt in Navy Blue and Joseph Polka Dot Skirt in BlueL-R: Topshop Polka Dot A-Line Skirt in Black, $68.00 / Joseph Minnie Skirt in Navy Blue, $345.68 / Joseph Polka Dot Skirt in Blue, $281.98

Kelly Wearstler Nautilus Print Skirt in Black/Ivory and DSQUARED2 Dotted Skirt in BlueL-R: Kelly Wearstler Nautilus Print Skirt in Black/Ivory, $175.00 / DSQUARED2 Dotted Skirt in Blue, $295.00

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