A new Neil Lane ring ain’t the only thing wrapped around Jennifer Hudson’s finger; the American Idol third season finalist has had homos hanging on just as tight since her Oscar-winning portrayal of Effie White in the 2006 film adaptation of Dreamgirls. A part in this past summer’s Sex and the City movie cemented her gay icon status, and now, leading up to two more high-profile features (Winged Creatures and The Secret Life of Bees), the barely-27-year-old releases her long-awaited, self-titled debut album on September 30. I spoke to Hudson by phone just a few days after she announced her engagement to boyfriend David Otunga (“Punk” from I Love New York 2) to discuss the diva’s diamonds, dream wedding and delicious queer following.
HX: Do people treat you differently now that you’re an Oscar-winning star?
Jennifer Hudson: Yeah, everything’s all different. It’s a whole new life and a whole new world. It’s kinda odd, though.
I’ll bet strangers still expect you to be just like Effie.
Oh, yes, a lot of the time — for the most part, actually. But then when they meet me and get to know me, they realize I’m nothing like Effie!
Did Miss Effie find her way onto your debut album?
We have some of the Effieness on there — “And I Am Telling You” is actually on there. But, there are many other sides of me that I wanted to display, so there’s a good variety on the album.
In our last interview you described your process of Jenniferizing songs with those big powerful notes your gay fans love. Is there a lot of Jenniferizing on the album?
Well, that’s what I did to every single song. I had to Jenniferize them and make them my own, whether it was vocally or personality-wise.
So what is it about gay men and Jennifer Hudson that goes together like chocolate and peanut butter?
I don’t know, but I love it! You gotta love chocolate and peanut butter — it’s good!
Describe a typical encounter with a gay fan.
For one, it just seems natural, familiar. I feel right at home, they feel right at home and we instantly click. One time, actually, when went to Hawaii on the Idol tour, there was a drag queen dressed like Jennifer Hudson. I almost lost my mind! I was like, Wow! I loved it! I’m looking, thinking, I like that outfit! — before I even knew he was dressed like me. That was cool.
What was it like to perform at the Pier Dance this past summer during New York Gay Pride?
I was looking so forward to that show. I love performing for the kids, so it was very exciting. That was the biggest gay event I’ve ever done, which was overwhelming. There was so much energy, love and support out there. I felt right at home.
How’s that diamond engagement ring of yours doing?
It’s doing great, thank you [laughs]. I’ve got it right here on my finger. I’m very, very happy.
Are you looking at it now?
Well, I’m holding the phone with that hand, so no [laughs].
Your fiancé is a good-looking man. Who’s really living under whose spotlight?
You know what? We both keep good tabs on each other, to be honest.
Have you kept in touch with the Sex and the City gang?
We see each other from time to time — maybe Sarah or Michael Patrick King — though we email more than anything. I haven’t spoken to any of them recently because we’re all so busy, but it’s good when we do get to see each other.
If the girls from Dreamgirls and Sex and the City are all on the guest list, your wedding is going to like be a gay man’s wet dream come true!
[Laughs] That’s funny. We shall see!
When you need a pick-me-up, do you go look at all your awards for Dreamgirls?
Well, they’re all at home and I don’t have much furniture right now, so when I come in the door that’s pretty much what I see. And the Oscar has its own stand with a light.
Looking back on your choices since Idol, is there anything you’d do differently if you could?
No, I don’t like to look back like that. Everything happens for a reason, and there’s always a lesson to be learned.
But what about your infamous Oscar night dress by Oscar de la Renta? Because you know some bitches weren’t feeling it.
[Laughs] I don’t even know how to answer that! You can’t please everybody all the time, I guess. They can hate on me if they want.
What are you spending your cash on these days? Or are you just dressing yourself up in love?
Ooh, I like the way you said that! I’m into gadgets more than anything, but now that fall’s here, I’m into little things like hats and scarves. And now I’m really into jewelry; I just got a pair of diamond hoop earrings. But I usually don’t have to buy anything because so much is just given to me now, so that’s very nice.
Just be careful not to get any jewels that outshine that big rock.
Trust me, I’m not too worried about it!
HX, October 2008; extended online version.