Gospel calls Hud­son back

The ‘Dreamgirls’ star is in the cast of a movie mu­si­cal ver­sion of Langs­ton Hughes’s 1961 stage hit, ‘Black Na­tiv­ity’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODMOVIES - HUDA MU’MIN

BLACK Na­tiv­ity, the ea­gerly awaited movie mu­si­cal in­spired by Har­lem Re­nais­sance au­thor Langs­ton Hughes’s orig­i­nal stage mu­si­cal of the same name, opened in cine­mas this weekend. The mu­si­cal, which de­buted off-Broad­way in 1961 with an all­black cast, retells the tra­di­tional story of the Na­tiv­ity. This year’s re­lease is a mod­ern twist on an iconic clas­sic.

The film tells the story of Langs­ton, por­trayed by ac­tor and R&B artist Ja­cob La­ti­more, a frus­trated teen who trav­els from Bal­ti­more to New York City to spend Christ­mas with his es­tranged grand­par­ents, the Rev Cor­nell and Aretha Cobbs, played by For­est Whi­taker and An­gela Bas­sett. His sin­gle- par­ent mother, Naima, played by Os­car-win­ner Jen­nifer Hud­son, stays home in Bal­ti­more be­cause of fi­nan­cial hard­ships.

Un­will­ing to con­form to his grand­par­ents’ rules, Langs­ton rebels. While try­ing to get back home, he finds him­self on the path to dis­cov­er­ing the true mean­ing of faith and for­give­ness.

Di­rected and writ­ten by Kasi Lem­mons ( Eve’s Bayou), this up­lift­ing hol­i­day mu­si­cal has no short­age of sur­pris­ing, heart­warm­ing mu­si­cal per­for­mances from the film’s star-stud­ded cast, which also in­cludes Tyrese Gib­son, Mary J Blige and Nasir “Nas” Jones.

This is Hud­son’s first mu­si­cal movie since her 2006 Os­car-win­ning per­for­mance in Dreamgirls. In this in­ter­view, the multi-ta­lented Hud­son, who re­cently re­ceived a star on the Hol­ly­wood Walk of Fame, talked about her love for act­ing, mu­sic and fam­ily and why she said yes when asked to join the cast of Black Na­tiv­ity. What was it like to work on a mu­si­cal Christ­mas movie that has such a gospel in­flu­ence, and how did you pre­pare? I grew up singing in church and be­ing in the choir. Back then they used to make me stand in the cor­ner and just sing, like you had done some­thing wrong. I come from a singing back­ground. Work­ing on this film made me say, “Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any­thing like this be­fore.”

The way we shot the film, I’m still try­ing to fig­ure out how they put the mu­si­cal as­pect into just the script. It is like the songs were woven into the script. We lit­er­ally went from lines to singing, but it still felt as though we were mak­ing a movie some­how. At times I would for­get that it was a mu­si­cal, but then it would be my turn to sing. It was so in­ter­est­ing. You have such a busy sched­ule with your mu­sic and film ca­reer. How do you bal­ance moth­er­hood? When I am work­ing, I try to have my son wher­ever I am. I have to tell you about my baby’s de­but. You may have seen (him) in the bus scene; he’s ac­tu­ally sit­ting on some­one’s lap. He is four years old, but it’s still a bit of a process with him when some­one else is play­ing my son. He will say, “Mommy, that is not your son. I’m your son.”

Hav­ing him there is great. Right now he wants to be an ac­tor, the next minute a wrestler, the next minute he is singing. So you know, I am so cu­ri­ous to see what he is go­ing to be. I know he is go­ing to take over the world. With Black Na­tiv­ity be­ing about fam­i­lies and the hol­i­day sea­son, what kind of fes­tive tra­di­tions do you have in your fam­ily? In my fam­ily we will cre­ate an event just to come to­gether. So dur­ing the hol­i­days, one thing I love is that ev­ery­one seems to be of one ac­cord. This is the time of year when you can bring ev­ery­one to­gether and you have the per­fect ex­cuse to do it. That’s what I love most about the hol­i­days. Do you have a favourite song on the sound­track, and were there any sur­pris­ing mu­si­cal mo­ments? My favourite song is He Loves Me Still. If you lis­ten to the words, “None of us are per­fect/ but God still loves you.” Just like An­gela’s char­ac­ter, Aretha Cobbs, said, “We all have done things, and that’s be­tween us and God.” The words of the song are true. We all can re­late be­cause it’s from the heart. It’s my favourite song. Ev­ery time I lis­ten to that song it gives me peace, it lifts me up, it cen­tres me. When they were teach­ing the song to us, I was like, ”Wow!” This was a mo­ment within it­self. As an Os­car-win­ning ac­tress and a Grammy- win­ning artist, would you say you are more pas­sion­ate about mu­sic or act­ing? What I will say is this: at first I didn’t un­der­stand when asked this ques­tion, but some­one ran­domly told me that “singing is your gift, and your act­ing is your re­ward from God for us­ing your gift”. It’s all from God, so I love both.

I love ev­ery­thing and I hope I never have to choose. I al­ways say, “Lord, you send me and I’ll go in any sit­u­a­tion or place.” From Dreamgirls on, if God places me here, I have no choice but to be pre­pared. So I’m here pre­pared; so I just take it. – Wash­ing­ton Post

BELT­ING IT OUT: Ja­cob La­ti­more as Langs­ton, An­gela Bas­sett as Aretha, Jen­nifer Hud­son as Naima and For­est Whi­taker as Cor­nell.

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