The Heartbreaking Reason Jennifer Hudson Won’t Ever Slow Down

Academy Award winner, Jennifer Hudson, has conquered many obstacles in her life. The actress and singer rose to fame after appearing on season 3 of American Idol. Hudson didn’t win the competition but garnered the hearts of many. Since then, she’s taken on dozens of noteworthy projects. Here’s why the star forges on, no matter what.

Jennifer Hudson’s family experienced inconceivable tragedy

Jennifer Hudson filming 'Respect' in New York City
Marlon Wayans and Jennifer Hudson seen filming on location for ‘Respect’ at Rockefeller Center | James Devaney/GC Images

In 2008, Hudson experienced the horrific loss of her mother, Darnell, brother, Jason, and 7-year-old nephew, Julian. Their deaths came at the hand of Hudson’s brother-in-law, William Balfour, who is said to have shot and killed Hudson’s family members while in a jealous rage.

In Oct. 2008, a jury convicted Balfour, who was married to Hudson’s sister, Julia, of the three murders. Authorities discovered keys to the stolen SUV young Julien’s body was discovered inside of.

According to court documents, Balfour was on parole at the time of the murders for a 1992 attempted murder conviction. He’s currently serving a life sentence without parole in a Pontiac, Illinois prison.

Balfour appealed the case and presumes his innocence, but the appeal was denied. In the midst of all of this, Hudson (and sister, Julia), survive.

View this post on Instagram

Happy birthday to my sweet mother !

A post shared by Jennifer Hudson (@iamjhud) on

In a previous interview, Hudson opened up about how she was able to endure the grueling trial after the tragic deaths. Among her reasons, she credits her now 10-year-old son, David, for keeping her in the present moments.

“I went from being an aunt, having a mom, and being a child to not having a mom, becoming a mom, and raising my own child. I tell David all the time, ‘You saved my life.’”

Along with other family members, she’s since opened The Hudson-King Foundation for Families of Slain Victims to honor her mom, brother, and nephew.

That aside, Hudson and her sister created the Julian D. King Gift Foundation which provides Chicago families in need with Christmas presents and school supplies.

Here’s why Hudson refuses to slow down

Ahead of Hudson’s next film release, an adaptation of the Broadway musical, Cats, she opened up to The Guardian about what keeps her going.

“Thank God,” she said. “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.”

Hudson further explained why she can’t ever slow down, saying her mother, brother, and nephew 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.’”

The drive in spite of tragedy is awe-inspiring. Hudson added that her mother often said “without family, you have nothing,” further adding she wants 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.”

The Dreamgirls star will always mourn her loved ones, but she won’t let the losses define her.

“Of course you still get sad,” she said. “[But] that’s what I go back to: What would my mother say? What would she do?”

Hudson uses her platform to speak about gun violence

View this post on Instagram

Grizabella the glamour cat !

A post shared by Jennifer Hudson (@iamjhud) on

As an advocate for the March For Our Lives protest, Hudson used her celebrity to show that gun violence can “happen to anybody.” Her goal is to bring attention to the need for gun reform.

In a 2015 interview with W Magazine, she commented on how widespread the issue has become.

“It’s not just the city of Chicago,” Hudson said. “[Gun violence is] everywhere. It’s a bad time right now, no matter where we look. Kids can’t go to school, people can’t go to church, you can’t go to the movies. It’s like, what are we doing to ourselves? What’s happening? We’re acting like animals.”

The same day, she spoke with CNN about the impact gun violence had in her own life.

“It’s obviously something extremely close to home. … You instantly connect,” she said. “There’s very few people who know what a moment like this means. What it represents. Everything that it entails. I can’t help but be affected by it.”