Jennifer Hudson: 8 Major Milestones In Her Career So Far

Jennifer Hudson as Effie White in Dreamgirls
(Image credit: Paramount Pictures Studios)

Jennifer Hudson became the newest EGOT winner recently. For those who don’t know, this means she’s joined the ranks of only seventeen other artists and performers who have earned an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony.

It’s a huge milestone for Hudson, who earned her first Oscar back in 2007 and only earned her first Emmy last year. That’s quite a meteoric rise to greatness. She now joins industry greats like Andrew Lloyd Webber, Alan Menken, and Audrey Hepburn as one of the few stars to reach EGOT status.

To celebrate Jennifer Hudson’s accomplishments, let’s take a look back through her storied career and count up her biggest career milestones to date.

Fantasia Barrino and Jennifer Hudson just before Hudson's elimination from American Idol

(Image credit: Fox)

She Made It To The Top 7 On American Idol (2004)

Jennifer Hudson’s career began at American Idol, where she competed in the third season of the singing competition.

In her now famous audition, Hudson shared that she’d just finished working as a performer on a Disney Cruise ship: 

Hudson was eliminated after making it to the Top 7, marking one of the biggest elimination upsets in Idol history. In fact, in an interview with Billboard, former Idol judge Randy Jackson shared that he felt eliminating Hudson had been a huge “miss” for the competition show. The ultimate winner was R&B/Jazz singer Fantasia Barrino, with whom Hudson would actually collaborate with later on in their careers.

Jennifer Hudson singing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" in Dreamgirls

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures Studios)

Jennifer Hudson Won An Oscar For Dreamgirls (2007)

After shocking the world with her powerful vocals on American Idol, Hudson was cast in the 2007 musical adaptation, Dreamgirls, alongside Beyonce and Jamie Foxx. Portraying the role of Effie White, Hudson was tasked with the job of performing one of the most well-known Broadway songs of all time.

Not many people can perform “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” with the same gusto as the original Effie, Jennifer Holliday — and yet, Jennifer Hudson did just that. Her soulful and commanding performance of the classic Broadway tune catapulted her to fame, and earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Hudson appeared in several other popular movies after Dreamgirls, including Sex and the City and The Secret Life of Bees.

Jennifer Hudson singing "I Will Always Love You" at the 54th Grammy Awards

(Image credit: Jennifer Hudson)

She Won A Grammy In 2008, And Again 2009

Fresh off the success from her Oscar win, Hudson won a Grammy award for Best Song Written for A Motion Picture for “Love You I Do” from Dreamgirls. Shortly after, she began working on her debut album, which contained the single “Spotlight,” a song that would become a Top 40 hit. 

Just prior to the release of the second single from the self-titled album, tragedy struck Hudson’s family when her estranged brother-in-law brutally murdered her mother, brother, and nephew. 

Despite the horrific tragedy, Hudson persevered and earned three Grammy nominations for Jennifer Hudson, ultimately winning for Best R&B album. Her second album, I Remember Me, also debuted in 2011 to positive reviews. 

Jennifer Hudson performing "It's Your World" from her album JHUD at SiriusXM

(Image credit: SiriusXM)

In 2014, She Released Her Third Studio Album, JHUD

It was Hudson’s third album, JHUD, that represented a shift in her overall style. With an upbeat, ‘70s dance vibe, JHUD was created in collaboration with artists like Timbaland and Pharrell.

Hudson earned a nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance for “It’s Your World,” one of the songs off JHUD. While she lost to Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love,” the album still earned the distinction of Best R&B/Soul Album on iTunes.

Jennifer Hudson and Cynthia Erivo singing one of the songs from The Color Purple

(Image credit: The Color Purple)

Jennifer Hudson Made Her Broadway Debut In 2015 With The Color Purple

Starring alongside Cynthia Erivo and Danielle Brooks, Hudson made her first Broadway appearance in the 2015 revival of The Color Purple.

The production won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, though Hudson herself did not receive a Tony for her performance.

A new film adaptation of The Color Purple is set to release in 2023, although Hudson has not been named as one of the cast members set to reprise their roles from the 2015 revival.

While not on Broadway, Hudson returned with another live performance in Hairspray Live! (2016) as Motormouth Maybelle.

Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella in Cats

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Returning To The Big Screen, She Appeared In Cats (2019) And Respect (2021)

After a stint as a judge and mentor on NBC’s The Voice, Hudson made her return to the big screen with Cats in 2019. While the film was criticized for a number of reasons, Hudson’s rendition of “Memory” was a bright spot.

Hudson also portrayed Aretha Franklin in the 2021 biopic, Respect. While the film didn’t receive many accolades, Aretha Franklin herself hand-picked Hudson to play the role prior to her passing in 2018, making her the perfect casting for the part. Hudson was praised for her strong performance in the film.

Scene from Baba Yaga

(Image credit: Baobab Studios)

In 2021, She Earned A Daytime Emmy For Baba Yaga

In an unorthodox project, Jennifer Hudson expanded her resume with the virtual reality children’s program Baba Yaga. Backed by a talented cast, including Kate Winslet, Glenn Close, and Daisy Ridley, the program won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Interactive Media.

Hudson served as executive producer of the story and even voiced the role of the “enchanted forest.” The short story is available as an interactive VR experience on Oculus Quest.

jennifer husdon during own interview with oprah

(Image credit: OWN)

And Then In June 2022, She Completed Her EGOT With A Strange Loop 

Prior to the 75th Tony Awards, Jennifer Hudson was only one award away from earning her “grand slam.”

Hudson joined the production of A Strange Loop, a musical about a Black, queer writer writing a musical about a Black, queer writer writing a musical (and so on an so forth), alongside many other famous producers including RuPaul Charles, Billy Porter, Mindy Kaling, and Ilana Glazer, in addition to the legendary broadway team of Pasek and Paul.

Hudson earned her Tony Award as a producer of A Strange Loop when it won Best Musical at the ceremony this on June 12, 2022, making her only the second black woman in history to achieve the career milestone of earning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony (Whoopi Goldberg earned this distinction back in 2002). At the age of 40, she’s now also the youngest woman to ever earn EGOT status.

This certainly isn’t the end of Hudson’s career — rather, it’s the start of a new era for the talented vocalist. We can’t wait to see what’s next for Jennifer Hudson, who has arguably cemented her place as one of the greatest performers of all time.

Emily Marek

She/her. Lover of female-led comedies, Saturday Night Live, and THAT scene in Fleabag. Will probably get up halfway through the movie to add more butter to the popcorn.