Jennifer Hudson:
The Ultimate Dreamgirl

(Photo: David James/Paramount Pictures)

        Beyonce doesn't sing the blues, even if her character Deena Jones is loosely based on Diana Ross (who played Lady Day Billie Holliday in the film "Lady Sings The Blues", for which she received an Oscar nomination.)  The superstar singer and songwriter is going platinum not just with her hot-selling records and music career, but is also getting solid reviews for her role as Deena, the strikingly beautiful woman who overnight becomes the new lead singer of The Dreamettes, and wins the affections of Curtis Taylor, Jr. in Bill Condon's "Dreamgirls."  Deena is the most glamorous and arguably most beautiful of the three Dreamettes, but she is overshadowed by the singing prowess of Effie White, whose vocal talents and skills are more than just that bit better.  The two characters experience tension between them on the Dreamettes' stage, and Curtis has to manage the conflict that he in part has created between them.

        There is no conflict however, between Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson, even as some corners of the entertainment media world have published stories saying that Paramount Pictures has been trying to push Beyonce for a Best Actress Oscar nomination in its campaign, over Jennifer Hudson.  There is no truth at all to such stories, and Paramount itself has in recent days and weeks declared the stories to be inaccurate.  The studio is pushing each of the actors in their awards season campaign.

          Beyonce has appeared in such films as "Austin Powers In Goldmember", "Fighting The Tempatations", and "The Pink Panther", but "Dreamgirls" is her star role, and she excels as Deena, who at one point looks exactly like Diana Ross.  The 25-year-old Grammy winner was told nine years ago that she was born to play the role of Deena.  In fact, Beyonce, who can belt out tunes with great energy, reigned herself in.  "Because Deena's performance style is so different from my style, I had to hold back, to remind myself, 'Don't sing it in full voice, sing it like Deena.'"  Deena is a multi-layered character, and a lot more appears to be going on beneath those ocean-deep eyes that she has.  Similarly, moviegoers will see that Beyonce's performance goes beneath the surface of anything that she has done before.  To hear the phenomenal singer and former lead of the group Destiny's Child say it, Deena is hers, down to a tee.  "She is all about subtleties---she's very feminine and sexy, in a subtle, slightly mysterious way."  There is nothing mysterious however, about Beyonce's performance in "Dreamgirls".  "People are going to be very shocked . . . because I know they might be expecting 'Beyonce', but Beyonce is nowhere in this movie." 

        Indeed, she is correct.  There is not a trace of the star singer in Deena, even though Beyonce's musical background, like those of her co-stars, did not hurt at all.  She submerges any diva-esque impulses and digs deep into the role, which may be rewarded with award nominations during this busy awards season.  Her song "Listen", written specially for "Dreamgirls" may just be the best song Oscar winner come late February.

--Omar P.L. Moore


                                                           JAMIE FOXX       EDDIE MURPHY      JENNIFER HUDSON       DANNY GLOVER

                                                                                                      "DREAMGIRLS" HOME


originally published on December 12, 2006



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