The recent wave of gun violence and shooting rampages in San Bernardino, California, and Colorado Springs, hit especially close to home for actress Jennifer Hudson.
“This is reality for me. This is my life. A part of my life,” she told W Magazine, recalling her own personal loss in a heartfelt interview published Wednesday.
The “Chi-Raq” star and former “American Idol” finalist lost her mother, brother and seven-year-old nephew in 2008 when they were shot and killed in their Chicago home. William Balfour, the estranged husband of Hudson’s sister Julia, was later convicted of the triple murder and given three life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Because of her family tragedy, Hudson confirmed to W Magazine that director Spike Lee had been nervous to ask her to star in “Chi-Raq,” his satirical film about gun violence in Chicago’s South Side, an area compared to a war zone in Iraq due to its extremely high crime rates. The actress, who plays the mother of a young girl killed by gunfire, said she was dubious about taking the part at first.
“I definitely had that moment of like, ‘Are you serious?’ But when I really thought about it, I understood why he came to me and I thought, ‘You know what? It’s worth me telling my story so that hopefully no one else has a story like this to tell,'” she explained.
“The film we’re doing is trying to save my city, as my mother said, take care of home. So for that reason I was like, ‘OK, I get it, it’s worth doing.’ But I don’t think it’s anything I will ever, ever revisit again,” said Hudson, who is currently appearing on Broadway in “The Color Purple.”
“Chi-Raq’s” opening on Dec. 4 was preceded by the shooting deaths of 14 people in San Bernardino and three prior fatalities at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, along with the mounting death toll from gun-related crimes in Chicago and other inner cities.
“If we didn’t have these issues, I don’t think a movie like that would have needed to be made,” Hudson said, when asked about the timing of the film. “That’s the point of making it, to make people pay attention and say, ‘Guys, we have to start somewhere.’
“And it’s not just the city of Chicago. It’s 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,” she marveled.
“It’s unfortunate that things are this way, but it’s not going to change unless we do something about it. Even in filming the movie, there were times where more and more incidents kept happening. And Spike [Lee] kept writing it into the movie. Those who don’t get it, it’s like, how don’t you get it when this is what the issue is? And if you do have a problem with it, have a solution to come along with it.
“What plan do you have? How do you not try?” she asked. “And what are we supposed to do — just kill each other? It’s a scary time no matter who you are, where you go, what color you are, where you live, honey.”