Jennifer Hudson challenges herself to play Winnie Mandela

11.18.09 8 years ago

AP Photo

Jennifer Hudson’s career has been remarkable to behold.  She followed up her “American Idol” debut (and elimination) to win a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in “Dreamgirls” only to release a Grammy-winning album the following year.  And while Hudson has shown her acting chops in “Sex and the City” and “The Secret Life of Bees,” she’s about to take on her biggest challenge yet as South African lighting rod Winnie Mandela in “Winnie.”

According to Variety, the independently financed film will focus on the complicated South African who was jailed for fighting in support of her activist (and now former) husband Nelson Mandela and the policy of apartheid.  More importantly, the film won’t shy away from the controversy surrounding her association with a bodyguard who murdered a 14-year-old alleged informer.  She was also convicted of fraud in 2003, but had the conviction overturned because it was deemed not for “personal gain.” 

Darrell J. Roodt who has helmed such films as “Cry, The Beloved Country” and “Sarafina!” will direct. 

It will be intriguing to see Hudson take on the decades long and sophisticated role which will find her needing to learn a South African accent.  Hudson told Variety that she was “compelled and moved” after reading the film’s script and the so-called “Mother of the Nation” “is a complex and extraordinary woman” whose story should be told.

Winnie’s more revered former husband, Nelson Mandela is portrayed by Morgan Freeman in next month’s true-story “Invictus.” It’s unclear whether Winnie will be portrayed in the Clint Eastwood drama.

Hudson is currently recording her follow up album to her 2008 self titled and Grammy-winning release.  She also stars in her first prime time special for ABC, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” that will air on Dec. 14.

Production on “Winnie” is expected to begin in May, 2010.

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