Jennifer Hudson is opening up about parenting, performing, and looking for love.
The singer, actress, and host of “The Jennifer Hudson Show” touched on an array of topics as the cover star of the September issue of Real Simple magazine, including what it’s like being the mother of a Black teenager in today’s world and the ways her mother continues to inspire and support her.
Read on for the best bits from Jennifer’s captivating cover story with Real Simple!
She explained why she brought her son, David, and his many cousins (whom she calls “Camp David”) with her to the event. “I want my son to be a part of those things — and his cousins and friends,” she said. “Little David has a really big heart, and he always wants to include them. So I said, ‘I’ll sing, but I have to bring my boys.’”
She recalled what she told her son and his cousins: “When you all get old and you have children, you’re going to say, ‘I was there for the first Juneteenth.’”
She added her own reaction to the event: “To be able to sing for it — that’s something I will never forget.”
Jennifer spoke about her philanthropic efforts through the Julian D. King Gift Foundation, named in honor of her late nephew and dedicated to him, Jennifer’s mother Darnell, and her brother Jason.
“It’s how we stay connected to them,” she explained. “It gives back to the youth of Chicago, making sure they have their school supplies.
“Kids shouldn’t have to worry about where their book bag going to come from, if people going to laugh at their shoes, or if they don’t have the tools they need to learn. We’ve had parents that say, it was either pay my rent or buy my kids school supplies.
“We also do a holiday toy drive,” she continued. “We want the kids to know: Your positivity is highlighted and we encourage it and we support you all to keep going.”
How Her Mother Continues to Inspire Her
Jennifer touched on her ability to be both humble and ambitious, a personality trait she picked up from her mother.
“I think it’s so important for people to know you can be humble and still achieve things,” she said. “When I get to talk to Chaka Khan, and all these other people I’ve looked up to, it’s OK to give them their flowers and pay respect. That doesn’t take away from your own greatness.”
She added: “And just because you’ve achieved so many things, it don’t make you better than no one else.
“My mother used to write us letters, and I found one that said, ‘It’s beautiful, all the things you’ve accomplished, but what I’m most proud of is the human you are and how you treat your fellow man,’” recalled Jennifer. “The awards on my wall don’t amount to who I am at all as a person. When I meet anybody, I want to meet your human, and I want you to see mine.”
Another favorite expression of her mother’s that Jennifer finds comfort in is “Where there’s a will, there is a way.”
“When I do get stuck — whether I’m stressed, I’m scared, I’m tired, whatever — I ask myself, ‘What would my mama say? What would she do?’ That helps me.”
Jennifer is mother to 13-year-old David — or DOJ, as he prefers to be called — and she, too, faces the common challenges of parenting a Black child in America.
“My son goes to a predominantly white school, and he has giant hair, a whole afro,” she told Real Simple. “He loves to walk in there with the big old ’fro and the pick in his hair. And I’m like, ‘Do you realize the statement you’re making? Know that just wearing your hair like that is a statement alone.’
“Being a mom of a Black son, you have to make him conscious of and aware of certain things — who he is within the world,” she said. “And there’s so many layers he has to learn! But he’s at an age where he can fully understand it. And he’s so evolved beyond what I could ever imagine.”
As for her non-negotiables as a parent, she focuses on the basics. “For Little David, my biggest thing is getting his priorities in order,” she said. “Knowing education comes first, clean your room, and help take care of home. Learn how to help out and contribute. Those are things that he is learning.”
Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.
Whomever Jennifer chooses to bring into her life, she says she will do it with intention. “My mom didn’t believe in having just anybody around her children, and I’m the same way,” she explained. “I’m extra careful and cautious. I also know that, as a kid, you don’t want to see your mama with nobody. So I’m very sensitive to that.”
She added, “It took a long time to date. Because obviously, my focus has been on my child. It’s always about the energy of who you’re bringing into your circle. I’m very funny and sensitive about those things.”