In 2008, 34-year-old award-winning singer, Jennifer Hudson went through the unthinkable: she lost her mother, her brother, and her nephew all in one night after her sister’s estranged husband shot them in a brutal murder — a topic she rarely talks about now, except in a way to help someone else heal from tragedy as well. Now, the mother is starring in Spike Lee’s new film, “Chiraq” about Chicago’s gun violence. The topic hits too close to home.
On an episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter, the 30-year-old was asked if she forgives her brother-in-law, “Yes, I forgive him. Because I feel like for the most part it’s not his fault.”
“It’s how he was brought up. We tried to offer love, but you were so far gone, that you couldn’t even see that.”
“A lot of things came out, that we didn’t even know about, from his upbringing, which is like he never had a chance. Had you had the love my mother gave us, or the background that some have, then you would’ve stood a chance.”
She went on to say, “There were so many shocks involved in it. Like, who do I grieve for first? Or, who do I start with? It’s bits and pieces. It’s too much. You’re confused. Your emotions are confused.”
“I went from being an aunt, having a mom, and being a child to not having a mom, becoming a mom, and raising my own child,” she says passionately. “I tell [my son] David [now 6] all the time, ‘You saved my life.’”
Hudson said that it’s the love of her son, bringing the miracle into the world and seeing him and
helping him grow up is reason enough to heal and move forward.
The Oscar and Grammy winner further explained that part of the reason why it’s been so difficult to open up about the tragedy is because she can’t quite connect with those who haven’t faced that kind of devastation.
“It’s frustrating as hell to me to have somebody who ain’t lost nothing try to talk to me about it,” she said. “I want to say, ‘Don’t even bother, because you know nothing.’ But you never know how much you can get through until you’re going through it.”
For her next role, in Spike Lee’s black comedy Chiraq, however, Hudson came face-to-face with other women who have suffered similar losses — and it was a powerful experience.
In the film, Hudson plays Irene, a woman whose daughter is killed by a stray bullet while they’re walking to school.
“There’s a scene where we’re all holding up boards with [photos of] our slain children on them,” Hudson recalled. “I turned around, and it’s a sea of real women [as extras] holding pictures of children they actually lost. I’m a character holding a picture of a little girl, but in real life I have the same story.”
Chiraq opens the first week in December in major theaters across the country. Admit much controversy, Spike says the film is to really get people talking about the solution to Black on Black crime.