Jennifer Hudson experienced a wonderful whirlwind year in 2013, and 2014 appears to be just as bright for the talented star.
The 32-year-old actress and singer looks positively stunning as she graces the cover of the January issue of Essence magazine, on newsstands on Dec. 6. Sporting a bright blue fluffy sweater, gold cuff bracelets, a blue statement ring and a soft pink lip, the Academy Award winner gazes seductively into the camera in the beautiful photograph.
Hudson opens up to the mag in a wide-ranging interview, giving readers a glimpse into how she prepared for her recent projects and turning her grief into triumph.
The diverse A-lister can be seen in several films, playing characters that forced her out of her comfort zone: a heroin-addicted prostitute named Gloria in The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete and the titular character in the drama Winnie Mandela.
Since the role of Gloria was a big stretch from her own life, Hudson visited rehab centers and spent some time with addicts so she could identify with the part.
"It was a huge stretch for me to play Gloria," Hudson reveals to the mag. "The drugs, the tattoos, the prostitution—her life is so different from my own."
Portraying the iconic anti-apartheid hero did not come without some serious challenges, either.
"I was so nervous about doing a good job that I started working on the accent a couple of months before I even got there," Hudson said of perfecting the South African accent.
"So much was done to suppress Winnie's voice, to keep her quiet," Hudson added. "Winnie's story needed to be told."
Hudson also appeared in the star-studded ensemble holiday musical, Black Nativity.
So, what's next for Hudson in the 2014? The Grammy winner's new album, featuring collaborations with Pharrell Williams and Timbaland, is slated for release.
And will next year be the year she finally walks down the aisle with fiancé David Otunga?
"Yes, there was a date set, and that date has come around again every year," Hudson said. "In fact, the date may keep rolling around…when I'm ready to be married, I will be married. It's that simple. Everyone should just chill. Our relationship is very strong. We're both huge family people, and I'm only going to get married once. So I'm not rushing into anything."
She and Otunga have a 5-year-old son, David Jr.
With all of her success, J.Hud takes time to reflect on her past, and how she feels in the present.
"I spent my twenties figuring out what I wanted to do, and trying everything," she says. "But by 30, my foundation was set. I became confident and clear about the path I wanted to take...Now I've really settled into myself. And I'm stronger than I've ever been."