Jennifer Hudson to Headline Winnie Mandela Biopic

     November 18, 2009

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Jennifer Hudson continues to amaze. For starters, thanks to her role in Dreamgirls, she’s the only person to ever go from a reality TV show (American Idol) to winning an Academy Award (in her debut role no less). Now, despite being an actress with no leading roles to her credit and with her latest film, Fragments, being released straight-to-DVD, she has scored one of the best roles in Hollywood.  Hudson will be portraying Winnie Mandela, the former wife of South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, in the titular bio-pic, Winnie. For more on this project, hit the jump.

jennifer_hudson_01.jpgAccording to Variety, Winnie will start shooting on location in South Africa next May in Johannesburg, Cape Town and the Transkei and Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of his 27 years behind bars. Directing will be Darrell J. Roodt, the South African director behind Yesterday, South Africa’s Best Foreign Film nominee at the Oscars. Working with a script based on the biography, “Winnie Mandela: A Life” by Anne Marie du Preez Bezdrob, the movie will not shy away from the less pleasant parts of Winnie Mandela’s history.

Though she is often lauded for her efforts to get her then-husband released, efforts that actually resulted in her own jailing, Mandela has experienced her share of controversy. In addition to being convicted of fraud, she has also been associated with a bodyguard who brutally murdered a 14-year-old accused informant. It’s a challenging role but one that Hudson is ready to tackle, saying, “Winnie Mandela is a complex and extraordinary woman and I’m honored to be the actress asked to portray her. This is a powerful part of history that should be told.”

As a fan of Roodt, I am looking forward to Winnie. Yesterday, the story of a mother who must shoulder the burdens of her AIDS afflicted husband and her own HIV while trying to secure a better future for her only daughter, is one of the most poignant and timely films about South Africa to be released in recent years and his direction was a big reason why. He is very good at not allowing artificial drama to dominate a story which is already ripe with it. More on information Winnie as it comes.

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