Jennifer Hudson Singing Again for ‘Black Nativity’

Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson
Marion Curtis/StarTraks Photo

Fox Searchlight premieres holiday pic at Harlem's historic Apollo Theater

Filmed on location in Harlem and timed for the holidays, Fox Searchlight’s “Black Nativity” premiered Nov. 18 at Harlem’s historic Apollo Theater.

The musical’s major coup was getting Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson back onscreen singing for the first time since “Dreamgirls.”

“This was a Langston Hughes play that’s done every year in African-American communities and (director) Kasi Lemmons wrote a script that’s relevant for today,” said executive producer Trudie Styler.

Styler and Hudson worked together on the last Rainforest benefit at Carnegie Hall. “Because of that I was able to talk to her directly but it took lots of convincing. She’s a super, super lady, an absolute pro with a big heart and we just appealed to her that this was an African-American story, going to be shot in Harlem, directed by an African-American woman. It checked all those boxes so she came onboard.”

“It took a couple of times, I must admit [to convince me]. But once I looked,” Hudson said, “at the story, the music, the church base, the holiday and the family — that’s all the things that make Jennifer.”

As for “Dreamgirls,” do people still come up and start singing “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”?

“All the time,” Hudson exclaimed. “And they call me Effie. I think, ‘Wow, that was seven years ago. They won’t forget!’”

As for more seasonal songs, Styler likes “Silent Night.” “It’s in the movie but you won’t hear me sing it.”

Sting,” she added, gesturing to her husband nearby in a huddle with Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith, “does a pretty good rendition.”

Hudson prefers “O Holy Night.” “My tradition is to record a different version each year and this year I’m going to get started early so I can really explore.”

Angela Bassett and her screen husband Forest Whitaker, opt for “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” “I like the old stuff when I was coming up,” he said.

After the screening, the merry throng headed around the corner to Lennox Avenue’s Red Rooster for the afterparty.

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  1. J. Berrett says:

    99% percent of all productions (music, tv shows, “reality competitions ect) are targeted towards a “general”/white audience. That is made clear by the casting of all white actors which the exception of a cab driver and “servant”. So I never understand why its such a big deal when a movie is deemed to be directed towards a majority black audience. There will be dozens of holiday themed movies this season, and I only know of three, this one included, where there’s more then “1 or 2” black actors and they are not playing stereotypical black roles.
    When VH1’s Black Girls Rock aired a few weeks ago, I read multiple comments about “why not white girls rock’? That’s because it is pushed down our throats by the masses on a daily basis. We are shown that beauty is blonde hair, blue eyes and a woman that weighs 100pounds.
    Come February there will be the typical and idiotic “why black History Month, there is no White History month”?!? Again, because almost everyday of our lives, we are force fed “white history”. I started learning of American History/White History in elementary school, where as Black Studies were now offered until high school and even then it was only a necessity.

    • G. Jardoness says:

      J. Berrett. I wish you had read, (and understood) my comments before predictably genuflecting to them.

      A general audience means ‘anyone and everyone’ who might find the subject matter appealing — not simply and narrowly how ‘you’ define it. A general audience means whites and blacks, and the other 70% of the world’s population as well… The only ones who’ve labelled and restricted this experience to ‘Blacks’ is the filmmakers themselves, and you — undoubtedly ‘in direct contrast’ to the universal ideals they’ve sought to celebrate and preach…

      I do not watch VH1 or Springer or MTV. I pity those trainwrecks they exploit, and those who revel in their humiliation. The schools I attended were proud of their diversity and were made even-stronger by what we learned from one another. I pity the diploma mills which filled you full of hate, then unleashed you on the world… And the next time you want to scream racism — look in the mirror first.

  2. G. Jardoness says:

    Is there ‘some reason’ why this film couldn’t be targeted to a wider, dare I say, the general audience?

    “Nativity” is a great title. But if the movie’s message is not as universal as its subject matter is supposed to be, the filmmakers may not have the kind of faith they profess and want us all to respect and believe.

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