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Call and Post

Jennifer Hudson in ‘Black Nativity’ is a ‘weight’ worth ‘watching’

Kevin Chill Heard | 12/6/2013, 3:10 p.m.
While in sunny California to interview the cast of “Black Nativity,” the Call and Post had a chance to interview ...

By KEVIN CHILL HEARD

Managing Editor

For Clevelanders, the Langston Hughes classic of “Black Nativity” occupies a special place for the holiday season. While Hughes’ musical is known as part of the cultural movement called the Harlem Renaissance, local theater aficionados know this particular piece as a production commissioned by Cleveland’s Karamu Theater where Hughes served as its Playwright-in-Residence. Hughes’ gospel drama that ended up as “Black Nativity,” began as “Wasn’t that a Mighty Day.”

In the new film version of “Black Nativity” Academy Award Winner Jennifer Hudson leads an all-star cast that includes Academy Award Winner Forest Whitaker, Academy Award Nominee Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson, Jacob Latimore and multiple Grammy Award winner Mary J. Blige. “Black Nativity,” is written for the screen and directed by Kasi Lemmons, based on the play by Hughes.

Hudson, plays the character of Naima, a single mother trying to raise her teenage son Langston, played by Jacob Latimore.

Sent to sunny California to interview the cast of “Black Nativity,” the Call and Post had a chance to interview the lovely and still maintaining her much publicized Weight Watchers figure, Jennifer Hudson.

Husdon, who in real-life is the mother of a young son, found it natural playing Naima. “I could understand and relate to her (Naima) as a mother. You want the best things in life for your children,” beamed Hudson. “In that way, it was something I could definitely connect to.

“She’s taught him to be a man and she’s strong willed herself, sometimes they clash, but at the same time they had a sense of togetherness.”

Playing opposite Jacob Latimore was something Hudson enjoyed. So much so, Hudson said she began to develop a motherly attitude toward the young singer-turned- actor (Latimore). “I think that comes from being a parent and having a son and basically being able to be his mother on the set and be nurturing,” Hudson said. “In Naima’s case she loves her son and she wants what best for him. It’s the same for me [in real life] and my son – and I also sing to my son… Yeah, it would be times that I would look [at Jacob] and be like, ‘wow, this is what my son is gonna be like.’ At times it was like seeing into the future.”

The film takes the mother and son from Baltimore to New York City during the Christmas holidays. Did acting in the “Big Apple” add a special resonance to Hudson’s acting tone? Yes, it seems that even a star like Hudson can be moved by the bright lights of the big city. “I was quite intimidated to be honest,” the double threat actress/singer admitted. “My first film was shot in L.A., but my next film, ‘Sex in the City’ was shot outside in the streets of New York and in a lot of cases, the city is like a supporting character in itself. The actors set the tone, but when you walk into a city like New York all you need to do is be there.You just need to live in that environment and in that moment.”