“I Wouldn’t Be Here Right Now If It Weren’t For Them:” Jennifer Hudson Discusses How The Women In Her Family Shaped Her Career

Jennifer Hudson (also loving known as JHud) knows a great deal about striving toward dreams. What started as a run on the talent competition show American Idol in 2004, her career has been incredible to watch over the last two decades.

The Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony winner recently added another feat to her long list of accomplishments when she launched her hit daytime TV show earlier this year. Now, in time for Women’s Small Business Month, she’s teamed up with Mastercard to be the face of their Strivers Mentor Collective. The campaign aims to encouraged consumers to shop, share and support Black women-owned businesses while providing grants and resources to help them sustain and scale. One of the tools in their arsenal will be Jhud herself, who will step in as a mentor to one lucky small business owner.

“Because I am a Black woman with my own business, I feel like {this initiative} is a reflection of me and us and what we do,” Hudson told ESSENCE.

The ‘Dream Girls’ actress said her passion for mentorship comes from being surrounded with strong women her entire life.

“I come from a family of very strong, independent women that instilled the same in me,” she shared. “I have to say my mother, my grandmother, my sister, host of cousins, Maria Hudson, has inspired me {through my career}. I’ve been blessed to grow up around a lot of strong women.”

It’s not surprising Hudson’s career ambition stems from her connection to the women in her family.

Black women lead the pack in starting and leading new business out of every other demographic in the U.S., making up the nearly 2.7 million businesses launched in the last few years. But many of those businesses are underfunded and overlooked in terms of key resources for sustainability.

That’s where Jennifer Hudson and Mastercard come in.

“As Black women business owners look towards the recovery of the pandemic, Mastercard’s commitment to empowering this community of Strivers for long-term growth remains stronger than ever,” said Rustom Dastoor, EVP of North America Marketing and Communications at Mastercard in a news release. “Together with our partners, with tools and resources, data, mentorship, partnerships and brand power, the impact we’re able to make on individuals and in turn society at large, is truly Priceless.”

“I draw inspiration from everyone around me and it propels me to keep going,” she said. “I’m proud to help others do the same.”

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