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Interview - Jennifer Hudson Chats WINNIE MANDELA with AMC

September 4, 2013
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I had the privilege of speaking with Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson, about her experience portraying political icon Winnie Mandela, in the upcoming film from Darrell James Roodt "Winnie Mandela". The story examines the courageous and proud Winnie throughout her life in South Africa, as she meets and marries rising political star Nelson Mandela (Terrence Howard). Thrown into a world of fighting for love, civil rights and carrying on Nelson's message of equality after his imprisonment, Hudson talks about the pressure and privilege she felt to portray such a strong and influential woman.

The film opens in AMC Theatres this Friday, grab your tickets!

AMC: Which is harder, singing your heart out in front of millions of people at the Super Bowl or portraying a real-life political figure like Winnie Mandela?

Hudson: Haha well I get really nervous before getting on stage but then it eventually goes away. Portraying a real life character is like holding your breath until you're wrapped.

AMC: For those who don't know anything about Winnie, how would you describe her?

Hudson: I would say she is brilliant, very strong, powerful and a force to be reckoned with. She's unbreakable.

AMC: What would you say your favorite part was about playing her and what was the most difficult?

Hudson: Wow, well the most difficult was definitely being intimidated. She is a very important, huge figure. I said to myself, "This is very serious, I have to hop in 100% or I should go home." I even considered going home. These are huge shoes to fill. But then I said, "I'm in it, this is an important story to tell. I want to be a part of it." Then I asked, "Why don't we know a lot about Winnie Mandela, other than she is his wife?" To go to Africa for the first time and to capture and recreate a huge part of history was incredible.

AMC: There have been a lot of different portrayals of Nelson Mandela played by some very talented actors. What do you think Terrence Howard brought to the role?

Hudson: He's just amazing. He has his own way of doing things. Each actor has their own interpretation. He always stayed in character. I was like, "Ok this is Nelson I'm talking to." He could speak the language and always wanted to use it. He would sit in my trailer and play guitar and sing songs. I'm a people person, it was really cute.

AMC: Haha so he was like serenading you in real life, in character. Does he have a good voice?

Hudson: Haha yea, it was pretty good.

AMC: What was it like to actually film in South Africa, where the true events took place?

Hudson: I went to all the real locations that the events took place. I went to the island where Nelson was in prison. I was being toured with the actual inmates that were in prison with him. They show you the real deal and they don't reveal that until the end. I stood in Nelson Mandela's cell that he spent 20 years in. It was real, had a lot of meaning.

AMC: Oh wow, that must of been intense.

Hudson: It was very real, not a fairy tale. I believe the cell I was in {in the film] was the same cell she was in.

AMC: What was it like working with director Darrell Roodt?

Hudson: I love working with him. Darrell is a lot of fun, he's very hands on but also tells you to trust your instincts. Having a director there to give you such an ok is amazing. He's there to direct you or there to not be there, to allow you room to be the actor at the same time. Really encourages you to make it yours.

AMC: Now you got to also use some of your other talents and sang on the title track, right?

Hudson: Yes! I loved being able to sing. I loved portraying this character, and using my african accent, and then at the end Jennifer Hudson gets to come out and sing the title song. It was a powerful and beautiful song.

AMC: Why do you think AMC Theatres audiences are going to love this movie?

Hudson: It takes you somewhere else, it's a story worth being told. People will find it very interesting to know Winnie's story and struggle. Sure it's also educational but it's really a part of all of us.

AMC: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us and congratulations on a powerful performance. We can't wait to have it on AMC screens.

Hudson: Thank you so much.

"Winnie" opens in AMC Theatres this Friday!

Get your tickets as well as theater and showtime information here!

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