On May 30, 2008, Jennifer Hudson continued her film work by appearing in the hit movie Sex in the City, playing Louise, the electronically savvy assistant to Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker). Hudson then starred inThe Secret Life of Bees in October of 2008 along with Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys and Sophie Okonedo.
In September of 2008, Hudson also released her self-titled debut album, which went on to win a Grammy for Best R&B Album.
Tragedy struck Hudson’s life when her 7-year-old nephew, Julian King, disappeared. The boy went missing shortly after Hudson’s mother and brother were shot in what appeared to be a double-homicide. King was later found dead as well. In December 2008, police arrested Hudson’s brother-in-law, William Balfour, in relation to the killings. He was eventually convicted of the murder of all three family members and was sentenced to life in prison.
Hudson took significant time off to mourn and heal, and made her first public appearance after her loss when she sang the national anthem during Super Bowl XLIII in 2009. In the spring of 2011, she released her sophomore album, I Remember Me, which featured production and songwriting from the likes of Keys, Diane Warren and R. Kelly. She has also gone on to establish the Julian D. King Toy Drive and Christmas Dinner and the Hatch Day charity to honor her nephew.
Hudson has become a spokesperson for Weight Watchers and published the 2012 book I Got This: How I Changed My Ways and Lost What Weighed Me Down. She started her own clothing line and contributed to the soundtrack for Think Like a Man while continuing to star in film projects as well. She portrayed Winnie Mandela in a 2011 biopic named after the famous South African activist and was featured in 2012’s The Three Stooges. Then in 2013, Hudson appeared as a recurring guest star on the television musical series Smash as well as in the big-screen musical Black Nativity.
Continuing to make new music, Hudson released her latest album, JHUD, in 2014, a more scintillating affair featuring production from the likes of Pharrell Williams and Timbaland. She also returned to television the following year, appearing on the hit musical drama Empire. The show, co-created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, focuses on the family behind a successful music business. In addition to playing a music therapist in the series, Hudson performed on its soundtrack.
In 2015 Hudson once again starred in a famed musical, this time as Shug Avery in the Broadway revival of The Color Purple at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, co-starring Cynthia Erivo and Danielle Brooks.
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