"The dream is continuing. A few years ago, I could not have told you how much my life would turn around," Hudson said in an interview published in the February 26 issue of OK! Weekly. "I keep thinking that I'll wake-up tomorrow morning and someone will say, 'You had an incredible dream last night.'"
After already accumulating a Golden Globe award and numerous other accolades for portraying Effe White in the film Dreamgirls, the 25-year-old will learn this Sunday night if she'll also be able to add an Oscar to her already impressive resume.
"I can't even think about [winning]. My life at the moment is unbelievable," she told OK!. "People know my name now. With this Oscar nomination, my name might just be a little higher [up] in the pile of applications on that Hollywood desk."
Hudson said there were "nearly 800 girls" hoping to land the Dreamgirls role of Effe, including fellow American Idol 3 finalist and eventual winnerFantasia Barrino. Numerous re-auditions and callbacks for the role created "the most agonizing" six months of Hudson's life.
"[Dreamgirls writer and director Bill Condon] called me up and said, 'Jennifer, I hope that you are sitting down. You will be our Effe White,'" Hudson told OK!. "I was in shock. I said, 'Bill, please repeat that.' He must have told me half a dozen times before it sank in. I was on the phone to my mom right away. There was a little celebration before I skidded to a halt and thought to myself, 'Jennifer, simmer down, girl, and focus.'"
Soon Hudson -- the self-described "new girl on the block" -- would find herself working alongside Danny Glover, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Foxx and Beyonce Knowles. "I realized that if I could get through Dreamgirls without making a total darned fool of myself, I could get through anything," she told OK!. "I thought that Eddie, Danny and Jamie might wonder who the hell I was, but they couldn't have been nicer and kinder and more patient."
Specifically, Hudson said Foxx and Knowles are two of her "favorite artists, and to be able to work with them was a dream."
"They are two of my role models, people I looked up to and still do. They've inspired me," she told OK!, adding Foxx is "inspirational" and Knowles is "very talented."
Before she had her Dreamgirls co-stars for inspiration, Hudson said she would often turn to her late grandmother Julia Kate. Hudson said she believes her vocal style comes from her grandmother, when she would watch Julia Kate perform in church. "My grandmother was often told that she could have been a professional, but she'd say that she was quite happy where she was and that her only happiness was to serve the Lord with her voice," she told OK!. "I hope that she's proud of what I've done so far."
Growing up in Chicago, Hudson said she knew she wanted to be a singer before she was 10. The youngest of three children, Hudson said her family "didn't have a lot of money to spend," but "wasn't poor either."
"My parents made darned sure that we were well provided for," Hudson told OK!. "We were all encouraged to do things out of school. I did ballet classes and modeling for things like the Sears catalogue when I was 5 or 6."
Long before she began launching into stardom, Hudson began dating James Peyton, a maintenance engineer. The two have been together for the last eight years. "I'm the dreamer and he supports my dreams," Hudson told OK!. "He's happy to be my rock and let me fly. I have a patient, understanding man. He's home to me."
Hudson attended the 2003 Atlanta, GA auditions for the third season of American Idol and survived the Hollywood Round. However the rest of her Idol journey wasn't easy. She initially failed to get voted through to the finals, was brought back during Idol 3's "Wild Card Night," and only made the Top 12 thanks to judge Randy Jackson.
Hudson continued to struggle -- receiving the second lowest number of votes in two of the first three result shows -- but changed her song choices and soon became a favorite to win, receiving the highest number of votes on one occasion. She was ousted from the competition on April 21, 2004 -- and her elimination (the finals' seventh) created buzz in the Idol community. But Hudson says she harbors no hard feelings towards Idol.
"If I'd won Idol, I wouldn't be here today... it was, in retrospect, good for me," she told OK!. "[Simon Cowell] was always my favorite judge. He never criticized my voice, just my wardrobe."
Hudson described the current climate of her life as "special" and added she has to "enjoy it and embrace it."
"We all come to where we are for a reason. That's my philosophy," Hudson told OK!. "God gives you gifts. Use them. And I'm going to use my gift, and whatever talent I have, and pour it all into my career."