With just weeks to go before her latest film, the big-screen adaptation of Cats, hits theaters on Dec. 20, Jennifer Hudson sat down for a new interview with British paper The Guardian. In it, the Oscar-winning star got frank about the 2008 murders of her mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew at the hands of her sister Julia’s estranged husband, William Balfour. Balfour was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences for the fatal shootings.
Hudson, mother to 10-year-old son David, says that, despite her grief, she’s focused on not letting the tragedy upend her own life.
“Thank God,” she told the paper. “I think I attribute that first to God, next to [the fact that] when you experience trauma, it comes and goes. It’s always there. But it’s a matter of how you deal with it.”
The former American Idol finalist added that her late loved ones — mother Darnell Donerson, brother Jason Hudson and nephew Julian King — would have wanted her to “press forward” and do “what they would have wanted me to do.”
She said, “It would be worse, to me, not to press forward. I’m hearing my brother’s voice say, ‘Jenny, knock it off!’ He would be angry at me for giving up. Or all the things that my mother instilled in us. She prepared us. She would say, ‘You know, I’m not always going to be here and I want you all to be able to make it.’ She used to say, without family, you have nothing, which is why it’s so important to take care of family. So if I’m doing that, I know I’m pleasing my mother. As for my nephew; that’s where the Julian D. King Gift Foundation [her charity organization] comes from, because he was strong and very smart. So to live in a way that honors them is what presses you forward. Not to mention, thank God, that I have a child to live for.”
That’s not to say that Hudson isn’t still mourning.
“Of course you still get sad,” she shared. “[But] that’s what I go back to: What would my mother say? What would she do?”
She also remains close with her sister Julia, who lives nearby — in a house purchased by the singer and actress — in their native Chicago. Hudson described her sibling as a school bus driver who is “a character.”
Hudson also shared that her late father, a Greyhound bus driver, fathered 27 children. While she hasn’t met all of her siblings, she does know “quite a few.”
“Oh, yes,” she said. “Eleven girls, 16 boys. I’m the youngest, or at least in the last two or three. And it was always my dream — because I love family — to have a giant table with all my siblings. Just imagine the giant table!”