Award-winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson came to Kansas City on Tuesday partly to launch her press tour promoting her new daytime talk show. But she seemed more excited to hang out with local kids.
“I want to see the babies, pull out the children and they are going to have some fun. I am Mama Hud and I collect other people’s children. So don’t be mad if your babies want to go home with me,” Hudson joked before heading to meet with kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City at the MLB Urban Youth Academy.
She was also invited to throw out the first pitch at Tuesday afternoon’s Kansas City Royals Game. Though she has been a fan of baseball since childhood, she knew she needed some practice. After accompanying the kids with their warm-up and daily drills, Hudson was able to get some firsthand advice from the young players, who showed her the proper technique for throwing and catching a ball.
“I wanted to connect with the people. I wanted to see the children and throw the ball,” she said. “I am very hands-on and very present, and I really truly like to connect. Just give them good energy and love. Let them know someone is rooting for them and cheering them on.”
Hudson is no stranger to community outreach, starting her Julian D. King Foundation in her hometown of Chicago. The organization is dedicated to providing stability and support to children and is named in memory of her nephew, who was slain in 2008.
On Tuesday, she addressed the children and thanked them for allowing her to come practice. And she surprised them by donating $5,000 worth of baseball equipment and free tickets for the Boys & Girls Clubs youth baseball team to attend that day’s game.
— MLB (@MLB) August 9, 2022
Hudson, 40, plans on using her talk show platform for community outreach and youth advocacy, to connect and give back.
Having dominated in every field she has entered, becoming an “EGOT” with her Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards, Hudson tackles a new frontier in television with “The Jennifer Hudson Show,” an hour-long syndicated talk show set to premiere nationally Sept. 12. (It will air locally on KMBC.) The show will offer her a welcome change, letting her connect with people on a personal level and have conversations instead of interviews.
“I have done music, film and theater. I have done television but not in a talk show way,” Hudson said. “With this I get to be me and not a character and engage with others in this moment and experience together. I have a lot of experience talking to people. I am curious and I want to get to know the person.”
On Tuesday, Hudson added to her long list of awards. For her work with the city’s youth, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas awarded Hudson a proclamation from City Hall naming this day “Jennifer Hudson Day.” He also told the children about following their dreams and never giving up.
“I think it is an amazing thing. These kids are getting the chance to visit with someone who is incredibly famous but incredibly impactful in her community and so many communities,” Lucas told The Star. “To see a Black woman who has reached the top of so many excellent areas in performance and community involvement, and so kind too. I think it is something these kids will remember forever.”
A proud Midwesterner, Hudson said she not only chose KC as her first stop because “It ain’t too far from home,” but also because she wanted to come to a place that felt authentic
“I think that is the gift that the Midwest brings,” she said. “We are like people people. As far as the industry and Hollywood is obviously an amazing place to be. But we are so real. That’s the thing that keeps me grinding. You can be who you are, and that is why I still live here.”