‘DREAMGIRL’ SAYS GAY IS A SIN
Oscar frontrunner Jennifer Hudson stops in Big D; devout Baptist sticks with Bible on same-sex issues
BY DANIEL KUSNER
This week, Jennifer Hudson graces the covers of both The Advocate and HX. If her name doesn’t ring a bell, just wait. Hudson’s star is about to burst into a supernova.
In the movie adaptation of “Dreamgirls,” Hudson plays Effie White, the prized role that transformed thunder-voiced Jennifer Holiday into a Broadway legend. How does the new celluloid version of Effie compare? In the words of Oprah, Hudson is “brilliant,” “transcendent” and “fierce.”
Not only is Hudson a shoo-in for an Oscar nod, she’ll probably walk away with the statue. In a big push to showcase the film’s breakout star, Hudson visited Dallas last week for a roundtable interview. And I am telling you — Hudson is as sweet as honey. She’s charming and funny. And whenever someone compliments her performance, she practically gushes with modesty.
Move over, Halle Berry. Y’all meet the new African-American sweetheart.
Another reason why Hudson is being lavished with affection is that she’s an underdog who’s back in the ring. The 25-year-old Chicagoan is an “American Idol” reject. During the show’s third season, Hudson lost to Fantasia Barrino. And Simon Cowell has been gladly eating his stinging remarks — especially since Hudson recently inked a deal with recording legend Clive Davis of Arista Records.
However, during her appearance on “Oprah” and other TV shows, you can’t help notice how often Hudson makes shout-outs to God. Which is fine — but ever since Karl Rove mobilized the evangelicals, gays become anxious when they hear anything that sounds remotely like proselytizing. How Christian is Hudson? As a kid, Hudson says she visited Dallas a few times.
“For church conventions,” she explains.
What’s her faith background?
“I’m Baptist, if that’s what you mean,” she says.
In “Dreamgirls,” the song “One Night Only” is the soulful ballad that becomes Effie’s shot at a solo career. But through a payola scheme, the song gets co-opted by Deena and the Dreams, and Effie’s version gets lost in the dust.
On Dec. 30 in New York City, Hudson is the featured entertainer at “One Night Only,” arguably Manhattan’s gayest event during New Year’s Eve weekend. Tickets start at $65, and the singer-actress shares a bill with superstar DJ Junior Vasquez. As a Baptist who’s singing at a circuit party, has Hudson reconciled her spiritual beliefs and her gay fan-base? Does she support same-sex marriage?
“Nobody has ever asked me these questions,” she says.
“Everybody sins,” Hudson continues. “No sin is greater or different than the other. To each his own. If it don’t bother Jennifer, then Jennifer don’t mind. I don’t really even think about it because I don’t believe in judging people for what they do.”
When referencing themselves, lots of divas probably do that schizophrenic thing where they toggle between first and third person. But did Hudson just say that being gay is a sin?
“According to the way we’re taught, and what it says in the Bible — it is,” Hudson says.
If her answers didn’t already sound like fundamentalist clichés, Hudson then added, “I have plenty of gay friends.”
Her answers were surprising. I had a hunch that Hudson was religious. But when it came to questions about the gay community, I had hoped she might emerge with a thoughtful response.
Because she’s a relatively new star, some may say it’s unfair that Hudson should be asked to comment on social issues. But another reporter at the roundtable pointed out that Hudson is a zaftig, dark-skinned woman. He asked Hudson if she feels a responsibility to represent young African-American women in a positive light.
“I do think it’s important to be a good role model,” she says. “It just occurred to me a few days ago that I might be a role model. I’m sure that’s a part that comes with the territory. And I want to make sure I represent them well. And give all females — no matter what age, what race — something to look up to.”
Part of “Dreamgirls” chronicles the rise of the Civil Rights movement. I tell Hudson that gay audiences might feel a connection because they’re still fighting for equal rights. And when it comes to same-sex issues, all sorts of people might look to Hudson to shed positive light.
“I feel we should all have our rights,” she says. “It shouldn’t concern everybody else what somebody’s personal life has going on.”
The writer-director of “Dreamgirls” is Bill Condon (“Gods and Monsters,” “Kinsey,” “Chicago”). And David Geffen, the backer for the original Broadway musical, serves as the film’s co-producer. Of course, “Dreamgirls” was tailor made for black audiences.
“But come on,” I tell Hudson. “This movie is about as gay as it gets.”
“Wow,” she says while laughing.
DALLAS VOICE | 12.06.06