Jennifer Hudson explains why she decided to host a daytime talk show

Jennifer Hudson didn’t win “American Idol” 18 years ago – she came in seventh place. But that didn’t matter: she was soon destined for a formidable, award-winning career. The superstar became the first and only former “Idol” to win an Oscar for acting, winning Best Supporting Actress in 2007 for her stellar role in “Dreamgirls.” Fast forward to 2022 and Hudson is now an EGOT, having also won a Tony Award, Grammy, and Daytime Emmy along the way. Now she’s adding another credit to her lengthy resume: talk show host.

Hudson will debut “The Jennifer Hudson Show” on September 12, which also happens to be the star’s birthday. But why a talk show?

“I come from a very talkative family. Oh my God, we like to talk, says Hudson Variety. “I’ve been blessed to do so many things in my career…I want to help someone else get a platform.”

Hudson says the music will be heavily integrated into “The Jennifer Hudson Show,” which will welcome original “Idol” judge Simon Cowell, Mickey Guyton, Magic Johnson and Viola Davis among its first guests in its first week.

“The Jennifer Hudson Show” will be helmed by the production team behind “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” and is even shooting from the same studio on the Warner Bros. lot. where DeGeneres taped her talk show for 19 seasons.

In tackling the conversation, Hudson works with a familiar face. The executive who first discovered Hudson on “American Idol” is now behind his next talk show: Mike Darnell, now chairman of Warner Bros. Unscripted Television, was in charge of all reality TV shows at Fox when “Idol” was in its heyday. Years later, when “Ellen” (which Darnell was overseeing for Warner Bros.) was ending, Darnell zeroed in on Hudson as the perfect candidate to cast a new speaker.

“Obviously I’ve known her for a very long time. I knew his personality. I knew she had authenticity and was a quick learner,” Darnell says. Variety. When he first met Hudson on Zoom to discuss the possibility of a talk show, Darnell says he found her to be the same person she was so many years ago.

“No one I’ve known in my career has gone from a reality show to a movie set and then won an Oscar,” he marvels. “I mean, when you think about it, she went from seventh place on ‘Idol’ to starring on ‘Dreamgirls’ and then winning the Oscar for it. It’s extraordinary.

Besides her talent, the executive thought Hudson had the chops to carry her own talk show because of her authenticity and life experience. “She’s been through a lot in her life, so she has a lot to talk about with people — incredible ups and downs,” Darnell says.

Hudson will become the second “Idol” alum to host her own talk show, following Kelly Clarkson, whose “The Kelly Clarkson Show” will enter its fourth season next week.

Hudson also joins a growing number of women of color who are dominating the day from Tamron Hall to Sherri Shepherd – who is launching her own talk show, “Sherri,” on the same day as Hudson next week.

“I know I’m in great company and I’m so proud of them and excited to be on this journey at the same time,” Hudson said of her fellow talk show hosts.

Hudson also adds that Hall inspired her years ago, without even knowing it. Before Hall became a staple on “Today” and then launched her own Emmy-winning talk show (now in its fourth season), she was a star on Chicago’s Fox station WFLD.

“Tamron Hall was the host of Fox News Chicago when I was on ‘American Idol,'” Hudson recalled. “I swear I would go to Fox News Chicago every week, to the point where I felt like the anchor person. So that was part of the inspiration, and she was part of it.

Another woman in the daytime space who has inspired Hudson is “The View” host Whoopi Goldberg. Hudson says they go down in history together as the “only two African American women” to have achieved EGOT status, and “we are also the only two talk show hosts to have EGOTs.”

Hudson admits that it’s not yet established that she achieved that rarefied prize status. Recalling the Tony Awards earlier this summer, when she won for the production of the Broadway musical ‘A Strange Loop’, Hudson shares, ‘I heard them sing ‘EGOT! EGOT!’ And I’m like, ‘Huh? Oh my God. That means I just won an EGOT. …I’m still processing this, and I need to figure out what it means, what it represents.

Besides Goldberg, Hudson counts Oprah and Jenny Jones among other talk shows hosting vets she admired on TV. “Talk shows are an integral part of our culture, an important part of our homes,” says Hudson. “Growing up, watching my mom watch ‘Oprah,’ then ‘The View,’ all those shows, even up to Jenny Jones. I’m from Chicago, so I used to watch Jenny Jones on TV.

Now, Hudson hopes to have a similar impact on viewers when they tune in to her show.

“I want them to feel like they have a place to come celebrate, get away, have fun, comfort, rest, everything you need is here on ‘The Jennifer Hudson Show,’ here on that couch,” Hudson said. “Girl, even if you need something to eat, I got you!”

Watch Variety’s full interview with Jennifer Hudson above.

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