Inside Jennifer Hudson's Glamorous Life and Tragic Past

H'wood's 'It' girl talks about weight loss and finding solace after tragedy.

March 16, 2011, 2:33 PM

March 17, 2011 — -- Jennifer Hudson appeared at this year's Oscars presenting the award for Best Song but it was her newly svelte figure, wrapped in a striking tangerine Versace gown that really captured center stage.

After an impressive 80 pound weight loss, Hudson is now a size 6 and a rising fashionista. Most recently she was a guest at a dinner in Paris in honor of designer Michael Kors.

"The fun part is I get to do all the things that I have a love for like music, the film, and now fashion," Hudson said.

CLICK HERE to watch Deborah Roberts' interview with Jennifer Hudson on the latest episode of "20/20" andCLICK HERE for photos of Jennifer Hudson.

The glamorous life doesn't stop there for the 29-year-old Hudson. She releases her highly anticipated sophomore CD, "I Remember Me", on Tuesday and stars as Winnie Mandela in a new movie based on the life of the former wife of South Africa's first president, Nelson Mandela. Jennifer Hudson is fast becoming the new "it" girl.

"It's so surreal," Hudson said. "It's a beautiful surprise but it's overwhelming at the same time."Got a question for Jennifer Hudson? Click here!

Hudson is a quick study. She was a top contestant and fan favorite before being eliminated on season three of American Idol.

"American Idol was like a great platform, but it's a lot to learn in it," Hudson said. "I just tried to take as much as I could from it and use it for my next experience."

That next experience was winning the role of Effie in her very first movie, "Dreamgirls" and winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

"The Dreamgirls audition came up and they called me," she said. "I didn't even know the character's name. I just knew the song 'And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going.' And I ended up in the film."

Hudson went on to release her self-titled debut album for which she won a Grammy. (CLICK HERE to watch her emotional acceptance speech.) Now she is a spokeswoman, and a stunning success story, for Weight Watchers.

Hudson said she is still getting used to her weight loss being the topic of conversation.

"I had no idea so many people were watching," she said.

Now people come up to her and tell her how much she has inspired them.

"Being somebody who didn't get that kind of attention and then now, all of a sudden, it's magnified. So a lot of times I don't like to think about it because then it adds all the pressure," she said.

Hudson's Biggest Motivation: Motherhood

Hudson admits that it's taken a while to get adjusted to her new body. While she doesn't mind all the attention, she has to look at pictures of herself just to see what everyone else sees.

"My mind has not caught up yet. It's like a mental process as well as a physical change," Hudson says. "My assistant and I will go shopping and I'm picking up the extra larges or the bigger sizes and he's like, you don't know your size."

Hudson says she does feel some pressure that goes along with her dramatic weight loss, especially when she's dining in public.

"Everywhere I go, from the White House to anybody's house, anywhere I go, any restaurant, and the first thing the waiter'll come over and be like, can you have that, can you eat this, should we get something else?" says Hudson.

While some people want to know her eating habits and exercise regimen, Hudson says her biggest motivation for it all is motherhood. Hudson and her fiancé David Otunga insist on a healthy lifestyle for their 1 ½ year old son, David Jr.

"We wanted to set the example for him to eat healthy and that health is important," Hudson said. "He's very conscious of it and he's on the scale with a banana weighing himself."

Hudson says that when she was younger, growing up on the South Side of Chicago, she did not see herself as being overweight.

"This is normal where I come from," Hudson said. "I didn't even know I was overweight until I was in Hollywood somewhere on the red carpet and the lady was like, how does it feel to be a big girl. And I'm like, 'Who's she talkin' to? It never dawned on me before.' "

In fact Hudson was so comfortable in her own skin that even the notorious pressure in Hollywood to be thin didn't faze her.

"Being in Hollywood (the weight) didn't bother me because I felt like I was different, I stood out," Hudson said. "I never thought I couldn't lose the weight. It's just that I felt comfortable with the way I was."

After the Murders: The Rollercoaster 'Has Not Let Me Go'

Staying true to herself is a big theme for Hudson. Her latest song on her new CD, "I Remember Me" says it all.

"So often we get lost by other people's opinion and what other people want you to do and things like that, and you lose yourself," Hudson said. "I don't want to lose me."

Hudson says she did lose a part of herself after the 2008 shooting deaths of her mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew in Chicago. Her estranged brother-in-law was charged with the murders and has pled not guilty. The case has yet to go to trial.

"People always ask, how are you feeling?" Hudson said. "I've been on this rollercoaster and I've gotten on and it has not let me go since. Now, nothing is the same. How do I identify myself? How do I know who I am?"

Seeking solace in her music, Hudson says her voice is her identity and she connects to her family through singing.

"That's why I returned to the music the way that I did because this is what I know," Hudson said. "This is who I am, this is what I can hold onto and this is what will never let me go."

CLICK HERE to watch Deborah Roberts' interview with Jennifer Hudson on the latest episode of "20/20" andCLICK HERE for photos of Jennifer Hudson.

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