Born & Raised:
Full name: Jennifer Kate Hudson.
Born: Sept. 12, 1981 in Chicago, Illinois. Raised in Chicago.
Jennifer Hudson was born and grew up in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Darnell Donnerson (mother, now deceased) and Samuel Simpson (father, deceased). Jennifer also had two older siblings, a sister named Julia and a brother, Jason. She grew up loving to sing, and first began performing publicly on a regular basis at the age of 7, when she joined the choir of the Baptist church her family was a member of. She also performed in community theatre productions growing up. In 2003, she auditioned for the competition reality show "American Idol," and appeared throughout the program's third season during the first half of 2004. In April, she finished in seventh place when she was voted off the show.
In November 2005, she was cast in the movie version of the musical "Dreamgirls," playing the character Effie White. The movie, which was released 13 months later, was a smash hit, and further cemented Jennifer as a mainstream star, particularly after she won the 2007 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. For the next year, she continued acting in films while working on her debut album. The self-titled release, which came out in September 2008, won the Grammy for Best R&B Album, making her one of the few artists to have ever won both an Academy Award and Grammy Award. Currently, she still juggles both singing and acting, showing no signs of focusing more on one or the other.
Jennifer's mother, Darnell, and older brother, Jason, were found murdered inside the mother's Chicago home on Oct. 24, 2008. They had been shot to death. Jennifer's nephew, Julian, 7, was also reported missing at the time. Later the same day, the husband of Jennifer's sister, Julia, was arrested for the crimes. The body of the missing boy was found three days later in a parked van on Chicago's South Side. He had been shot multiple times. As of early 2012, the suspect, William Balfour, is still awaiting trial.
Jennifer's father, a bus driver, died when was in her teens.
Jennifer's longtime boyfriend is professional wrestler David Otunga. The two began dating in early 2008, and he proposed to her on her 27th birthday, Sept. 12, 2008. She gave birth to the couple's first child, David Jr., on Aug. 10, 2009. As of early 2012, they are still engaged.
2011: I Remember Me.
2008: Jennifer Hudson.
2009: Grammy Award for Best R&B Album, for her debut release, Jennifer Hudson.
2007: Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film version of the musical "Dreamgirls."