There are few out there that boast the talent that actress and singer Jennifer Hudson has. There are also few that get to behold it up close. I was lucky enough to do so (via Zoom) during our interview earlier this month, where we discussed her recent partnership with Olay, rocking her short cut, and her exciting upcoming role in the Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect.

“I love how Olay supports you to be exactly who you are,” Hudson tells ESSENCE about the brand. “To have a company as massive as Olay telling you to be yourself when it’s so much out there in the world, that’s telling you to be everything else but who you are and how you are, is huge. So for them to support that is amazing to me.” Hudson goes on to brag about the Regenerist Whip Face Moisturizer with SPF 25, a must-have for her never-stagnant schedule.

“What I love about it because it’s so lightweight,” she raves. “It allows the skin to breathe and it also works with my makeup. My other favorite thing about it is that it covers so many bases. It has moisturizer in it, it has sunscreen, and vitamin B3. I’m a mom and I’m a very busy woman, I don’t have time to be using a million products and this is my all-in-one, I love that. I feel like it’s made for my life.”

Another thing that’s become a part of Hudson‘s life is the short cut, which for years has been the star’s go-to. “You have to have confidence if you’re going to rock the short hair, that’s what I love about it,” she says. ” The look says ‘here I am,’ if you can walk around with that confidence, with your hair being so bare, I think it’s a special type of power within that.”

That confidence, above anything physical, is what Hudson considers true beauty. “I think it’s beautiful when you can be planted in everything you are,” she shares. “Confidence is most beautiful. If you can stand in that, whatever it is, without focusing on a single physical thing, that’s incredible.”

When the topic of Aretha Franklin and Hudson’s role in the upcoming Respect arises, her demeanor noticeably changes. She becomes more reflective, and her tone, one of reverence. “I do not take it lightly,” she says humbly. “Receiving a blessing from people like Whitney, Aretha, Mariah, and so many other greats, it’s some strong shoulders to stand on. I just want to represent all the people that I’ve always looked up to in the best way I possibly can, and use my gift to make a difference in the right way. So often people use their instruments and gifts as weapons, and that’s not what it’s for. So I try to use mine to uplift, to help, and to bless. That’s what’s important to me.”

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