In her latest movie role, Oscar award-winning actress Jennifer Hudson plays anti-apartheid crusader and former wife of Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela in the film adaption of her life, Winnie Mandela, out this weekend. When news broke that she would be taking on the iconic activist, critics felt she wasn’t the right fit. Hudson wasn’t fazed at all, and in a recent interview with HipHollywood, she sat down to discuss what it was like making the film and why it was such a milestone in her career.

“Facing Winnie was definitely the most intimidating [role],” said Hudson. “I mean, it’s Winnie Mandela. Just to be anywhere near that is intimidating alone. It’s also my first lead role at the same time.”

And, as for the naysayers – she refused to let them get the best of her.

“I try not to think of those things,” says Hudson. “No one knows your potential the way that you do. I lot of people said the same thing about Dreamgirls.”

Actor Terrence Howard plays Nelson Mandela in the film, and Hudson said he really helped her to grow on set.

“Working with Terrence, he automatically makes you raise your bar,” she added. “He’s always pushing. Every day he would address me as Winnie, and he would come in in character all the time. I don’t think there was a time I was talking to Terrence.”

The film is in theatres this weekend.