Should we take a headcount of world-famous entertainers that have written their names on the sands of time, that list won’t be complete without paying homage to Jennifer Hudson. She is an American singer, actress, and spokesperson. The songbird rose to fame in 2004 as one of the finalists on American Idol. She is regarded as the third greatest American Idol alum behind Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. Like her fellow mentioned alums, Hudson has gone on to establish herself as an international star with an Oscar, Golden Globe and Grammy Awards under her belt.
Jennifer Hudson’s Career Highs and Lows
Born in Chicago Illinois and raised as a Baptist, Hudson began singing in her church choir at the age of seven. While growing up, she also participated in community theatre. Two years after graduating from high school, Hudson landed a 5-year recording contract with a Chicago-based independent label, Righteous Records. In 2003, she began performing on a Disney Cruise Ship.
American Idol Controversy
A few months later, Righteous Records released Hudson to audition for the 3rd season of American Idol. She auditioned successfully for the show and made it to the Top 9 with the highest number of votes. However, she was eliminated at 7th place to the surprise of most fans. Her elimination raised much controversy as many saw her as a potential winner of the competition.
Five years later, MTV named her puzzling elimination as the most shocking of all time while ranking Hudson as the 6th Greatest American Idol Contestant.
Breakthrough with Dreamgirls
Undeterred by the American Idol elimination, Jennifer set out to make the best out of her fame. She began appearing on numerous talk shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show and Tyra Banks Show. While she signed a record deal with Arista Records in November 2006, Hudson also focused on debuting a movie career.
She successfully auditioned for the supporting role of Effie White in the adaptation of the 2006 Broadway musical, Dreamgirls, beating top-tier acts to the role, including American Idol third season winner Fantasia. Dreamgirls also starred Beyoncé, Jamie Foxx, and Eddie Murphy.
On Dreamgirls, Hudson left critics awed by her rendition of the hit song, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”. Her role amassed a whopping 29 awards, including a BAFTA, Oscar, and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress. The movie was also a box office hit, grossing $154.8 million on an $80 million budget. With such incredible success, Hudson automatically landed into the millionaire’s club.
Within the next two years, she starred in two more commercially successful films: Sex and the City (2008) and The Secret Life of Bees (2008). The latter grossed $40 million and Jennifer’s pocket as a main cast certainly felt it!
Hudson’s stardom with Dreamgirls created more anticipation for her debut studio album. Her debut single “Spotlight” which she released in January 2008 peaked at #24 on the Billboard Hot 100 and made it to the top 20 in the UK charts. Jennifer subsequently released her eponymous debut studio album later in the year. The album debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 and sold 217,000 copies in its first week.
Jennifer Hudson has since sold over 1 million copies, receiving platinum certification from the RIAA. It also spawned the hit single “If This Isn’t Love”. In recognition of her work, Hudson won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album of The Year. It was also with the album that Hudson’s cash flow began to gain momentum.
More Singing and Acting Successes
Jennifer Hudson’s sophomore album, I Remember Me (2011) debuted at #2 on Billboard 200 and produced the lead single “Where You At” written by R. Kelly. The album received a gold certification from the RIAA for selling about 660,000 copies. Hudson however, experienced less success with her third studio work, JHUD (2014).
Jennifer thenceforth appeared to be more focused on her acting career. In 2011, she portrayed the titular role in Winnie Mandela, a biopic of the South African activist. Her other movies include The Three Stooges (2012), Black Nativity (2013), and The Color Purple (2015), with Hudson receiving a Grammy for her contribution to the latter’s soundtrack. She has also made appearances in notable TV series like Smash, Empire, and Hairspray Live!
Hudson continues to star in movies and make new music. As of 2020, she has sold a total of over 14 million albums worldwide while movies starring her have grossed over $1 billion at the global box office. Among her movie latest is portraying lead character Aretha Franklin in a 2021 biopic about the late singer.
Jennifer’s Career Success has Earned Her other Money-Making Opportunities
Jennifer Hudson has since her career breakthrough landed several other sources of income including her role as a coach in The Voice (British and American version). She made her debut on the reality tv singing competition series in season six of The Voice UK. She later worked as a coach on season 13 and 15 of The Voice US after which she returned for the 8th season of the UK version.
Considering her status in the entertainment industry, Jennifer reportedly earned not less than $10 million in salary for each season she worked as a coach on the tv show.
In 2010, she became an ambassador for Weight Watchers. The same year, she went through a phenomenal weight loss journey, losing up to 80 pounds. Later in 2012, Jennifer Hudson released her fitness autobiography titled I Got This: How I Changed My Ways and Lost What Weighed Me Down which has since reached best-seller status. The celeb singer is also boosting her income with earnings from her clothing line.
Here, we bring you a quick recap of her major sources of income.
- Record sales
- Film and TV role salaries
- endorsement contracts
- Book and clothing line
How Much Is Jennifer Hudson Worth Now – Is She Richer than Fantasia?
Unlike many celebrities that would prefer to keep the details of their wealth and earnings from the public view, Jennifer Hudson’s net worth has always been made public. It was pegged at $20 million in 2019 but a 2020 update has upgraded it to $25 million.
Despite her not emerging winner on the 3rd season of American Idol, the versatile entertainer has succeeded in amassing more success and wealth than all of her fellow finalists, including the season’s winner, Fantasia Barrino who is worth just $3 million as of 2020. Jennifer has since risen above the standards, recording more hit songs than many Idol contestants alongside several other lucrative endeavours. Here’s a quick look at her major earnings through years:
- 2007-2008: $1 million
- 2008-2009: $5 million
- 2009-2010: $3.5 million
- 2010-2011: $2 million
- 2011-2012: $3 million
- 2012-2013: $1 million
A Peep into Her Lifestyle – How Does Jennifer Hudson Spend Her Cash?
Jennifer Hudson may fall short of the list of celebrities who live big and loud, but she still loves the good life. The R&B diva who lives in Chicago makes herself comfortable in her 12,000 square feet residence located in Burr Ridge. The home which she acquired for $2.795 million comprises six bedrooms and seven bathrooms alongside a private movie theater.
Miss Hudson has also spent some reasonable bucks on automobiles. Gracing her car garage are some classics including a Lincoln Town car Limo, a Lincoln Navigator (est. cost: $77,000), GMC Yukon (est. cost:$60,000) and Cadillac Escalade (est. cost: $80,000).
Details of the Shocking Tragedy that almost Wiped Her Family Away
Jennifer’s immediate family used to consist of her mother Darnell Donerson, brother Jason Hudson and sister Julia Hudson. However, after an incident that occurred in 2008, she lost the first two, leaving Julie as her only surviving family member. She also had her nephew Julian King who was also a victim of the gruesome tragedy. As for her dad, his whereabouts is unknown as he is rarely mentioned in the Hudsons’ family affairs.
The unbelievable tragedy struck on the 24th of October 2008 when Jennifer’s brother-in-law, William Balfour (Julie’s husband) murdered both her brother Jason and mother Darnell in cold blood. According to reports from CNN, he shot them inside their Chicago home after he allegedly became infuriated by the knowledge that the Julia, the singer’s sister and his estranged wife had decided to leave him and was already seeing another man.
Just about a year after losing her loved ones to murder, Jennifer welcomed a new family member; her son, David Daniel Otunga, Jr whom she had with her then boyfriend, David Otunga. He was born on the 10th of August, 2009.
Meet Jennifer Hudson’s Baby Daddy, David Otunga
- Full Name: David Daniel Otunga
- Date of Birth: April 7, 1980
- Occupation: Lawyer, Actor, WWE panelist/commentator
- Spouse(s): Jennifer Hudson (partner 2007-2017)
- No. of Children: 1
Miss Hudson began dating David Otunga in 2007. The duo subsequently became engaged on September 12, 2008. That was on Jennifer’s 27th birthday. About a year later, the couple welcomed a son whom they named after David.
Hudson and Otunga remained together for the next eight years, only ending their relationship in November 2017 over irreconcilable differences. They however, never married. Following their separation, the ex-couple entered a lengthy custody battle over their son, David Jr. with Otunga eventually winning the case.
Jennifer Hudson’s ex and baby daddy, David Otunga is a former WWE professional who currently works for the company as a panelist and commentator. Otunga is also a lawyer by profession having graduated from the Harvard School of law in 2006. He also works as an actor and has featured in a number of films and tv series including The Call and General Hospital.