Inside every Diane Von Furstenberg dressing room, Jimmy Choo spring preview and Chloé sample sale, there are fashion-forward, career-minded single Black women splurging on the latest trend. Although their high-end lifestyles rival that of Sex and the City‘s fabulous foursome-Carrie Bradshaw, Samantha Jones, Charlotte York and Miranda Hobbes, these sisters have not been represented in the award-winning show’s six-year history. Fortunately, diversity was addressed with the inclusion of Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson in the highly anticipated film adaptation in theaters May 30.
Despite the show’s lack of diversity, Black fashionistas tuned in weekly and even hosted their own cosmopolitan-themed, viewing soirees. However, they were sure to let the show and film’s writer and director Michael Patrick King know what he was missing.
“Over the years fans have spotted me and come up and said, ‘Where are the sisters?’ It went in my mind,” he said, tapping his temple. “And I always thought the one color that was missing was an African-American or minority character. I created this character Louise from St. Louis and thought, Now who can play, it? And then Jennifer Hudson said yes. Who’s going to sit across from Sarah Jessica Parker and pull her weight except someone who belongs there.”
The Chi-Town Oscar winner was up for the challenge but not before doing her homework. Admittedly a late convert to the SATC domination, Hudson immersed herself in the show, traveling with the DVD box set and watching it for consecutive days. Not only did it bring Hudson up to speed but it also helped her gain a better understanding of the importance of her charge -add color (literally and figuratively) to the SATC legacy.
“I hope I represent us well,” said Hudson. “It is such an honor to be the new character and African-American woman. Of all the people they could have chosen, I get to be The One. Michael [Patrick King, the film’s writer and director] let me know he really wanted me for the role and had me in mind when he wrote the character. Luckily, things worked out.”
The film picks up four years after viewers said farewell to the Big Apple sheroes and their lavish lifestyles of fashion, men and friends. Hudson plays Louise from St. Louis, Carrie’s (Sarah Jessica Parker) assistant during a crossroads in the leading lady’s life.
“It was important to address the one shortcoming in our show, which was we had no women of color,” says Parker, the show and film’s star and executive producer. “That would always concern me, and I talked a lot about it with Michael Patrick. We dreamed big and wanted Jennifer Hudson.”
The mere mention of Jennifer Hudson causes a certain sparkle in the already electric Sarah Jessica Parker.
“Jennifer brings a maternal quality to the role. Carrie says ‘St. Louise, you brought me back to life,’ and I could barely get the words out of my mouth,” Parker said of the emotional scene when she and Hudson’s characters part. “But if someone else was playing [that role] it may have been easier, but it wasn’t because it was her.”
Perhaps, the emotional ties that bind Carrie and Louise has less to do with her P.A.’s maternal instincts and everything to do with what her twenty-something lifestyle offers her boss: the nostalgia of Carrie’s younger self. Louise, arrives in the Big City, bright-eyed, looking for love and an affinity for luxe handbags-even if she has to lease them before she owns them. Her priorities are a stark contrast to the forty-something Carrie, who is still a slave to fashion but more concerned with her tumultuous love life.
But Hudson is quick to add, ‘I’m nobody’s assistant.’ Ironically, Hudson’s on-screen boss Carrie serves as a staff writer for Vogue, “The Fashion Bible” that touted the Dream Girl on its March 2007 cover, making her only the third Black woman to accomplish such after renown predecessors Oprah Winfrey and Halle Berry.
“It wasn’t supposed to be a cover at first, just a little insert in the magazine,” said Hudson. “And then they saw me come in, and said, ‘We have to make it a cover.’ They completely switched the location all in that day and decided to turn it into a two-day shoot for the cover. I worked all day and all night for that cover, and I’m happy about it.”
The Chicago native and former American Idol contender is thrilled to have the opportunity to combine her first love, singing, with acting. She belts the film’s closing song “All Dressed Up in Love” co-written by Gnarls Barkley’s frontman, Cee-lo, with an intensity that is unmatched, even by her Dreamgirls alter ego Effie. And Hudson confessed that it was the hardest she has ever sung.
Still, with plans to release her debut album later this year, Hudson is simply enjoying the chance to bring her own sugar and spice to an iconic film about fashion, friendship and love. But it’s her signature grin and new love for Jimmy Choos and YSL bags that suggests she’s crossed over to the other side: “The vibe of Sex and the City is contagious.”
Catch the fever when Sex and the City opens in theaters May 30.