Jennifer Hudson on Her New Talk Show, EGOT Status, Being Inspired by Whoopi Goldberg and Tamron Hall

·5-min read

Jennifer Hudson didn’t win “American Idol” 18 years ago — she came in seventh place. But it didn’t matter: She was soon destined for a tremendous, award-winning career. The superstar became the first and only “Idol” alum to win an acting Oscar, nabbing the best supporting actress trophy in 2007 for her stellar turn 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 Sept. 12, which also happens to be the star’s birthday. But why a talk show?

More from Variety

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

Hudson says music will be heavily incorporated into “The Jennifer Hudson Show,” which will welcome original “Idol” judge Simon Cowell, Mickey Guyton, Magic Johnson and Viola Davis as some of its first guests during its premiere week.

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

In tackling talk, Hudson is working with a familiar face. The executive who first discovered Hudson on “American Idol” is now behind her upcoming talk show: Mike Darnell, now president of Warner Bros. Unscripted Television, was in charge of all reality programming at Fox when “Idol” was in its heyday. Years later, when “Ellen” (which Darnell oversaw for Warner Bros.) was wrapping up, Darnell zeroed in on Hudson as the perfect candidate to launch a new talker.

“I’ve known her obviously for a very long time. I knew her personality. I knew she had the authenticity and was a fast learner,” Darnell tells Variety. When he first met with Hudson over 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 went from a reality show to a movie set and then won in Oscar,” he marvels. “I mean, when you just think about that, she went from seventh place on ‘Idol’ to the star of ‘Dreamgirls’ and then won in Oscar for it. That’s extraordinary.”

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

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

Hudson also joins a growing rank of women of color who are dominating daytime from Tamron Hall to Sherri Shepherd — who launches 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 take this journey at the same time,” Hudson says of her fellow female talk show hosts.

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

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

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

Hudson admits it hasn’t set in yet that she’s achieved that rarified awards status. Recalling the Tony awards earlier this summer, when she won for producing the Broadway musical “A Strange Loop,” Hudson shares, “I heard them chanting ‘EGOT! EGOT!’ And I’m like, ‘Huh? Oh my God. That means I just won an EGOT.’ … I’m still processing that, and I need to understand what it means, what it represents.”

Besides Goldberg, Hudson counts Oprah and Jenny Jones as other talk show hosting vets that she admired on television. “Talk shows are a huge part of our culture, a huge part of our homes,” Hudson says. “Growing up, watching my mom watch ‘Oprah,’ and then ‘The View,’ all of these shows, even back to Jenny Jones. I’m from Chicago, so I used to watch Jenny Jones on TV.”

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

“I want them to feel like they have a place to come to celebrate, to escape, to have fun, for comfort, for peace, whatever you need is right here on ‘The Jennifer Hudson Show,’ right here on this couch,” Hudson says. “Girl, even if you need something to eat, I got you!”

Watch Variety’s full interview with Jennifer Hudson above.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Click here to read the full article.