*Jennifer Hudson plays a grieving mother in Spike Lee’s “Chi-Raq,” her child, the victim of gun violence, serves as the catalyst for the girlfriend (Teyonah Parris) of a Chicago gang leader (Nick Cannon) to persuade other frustrated women to abstain from sex until their men agree to end the senseless violence.
Hudson has experienced unimaginable (for most) violence, as her mother, brother and nephew were shot to death by her sister’s ex-boyfriend in 2008. She spoke to W Magazine about the traumatic experience being the reason why she accepted the role.
“This is reality for me. This is my life. A part of my life,” she said. “And I definitely had that moment of like, ‘Are you serious?’ But when I really thought about it, I understood why he came to me and I thought, ‘You know what? It’s worth me telling my story so that hopefully no one else has a story like this to tell.’ The film we’re doing is trying to save my city, as my mother said, take care of home. So for that reason I was like, ‘Okay, I get it, it’s worth doing.’ But I don’t think it’s anything I will ever, ever revisit again.”
During the filming of “Chi-Raq,” Lee incorporated every aspect of the South Side neighborhood in which they filmed to enhance the story and make it authentic. From mothers who have lost children to violence, to the community organizers who work overtime to heal the wounds of the victims, Hudson said these people and their stories “make people pay attention” to the topic of gun violence.
“If we didn’t have these issues, I don’t think a movie like that would have needed to be made,” Hudson explained. “That’s the point of making it, to make people pay attention and say, ‘Guys, we have to start somewhere.’ And it’s not just the city of Chicago. It’s everywhere. It’s a bad time right now, no matter where we look. Kids can’t go to school, people can’t go to church, you can’t go to the movies.”
As previously reported, the Electronic Urban Report/EUR was present at the L. A. press conference where Spike spoke about the WAKE UP message that’s in all of his films, and what he hopes to accomplish by saying it with “Chi-Raq.”
“Wake up was said first at the end of “School Daze,” we’ve had that be a common refrain. When one is conscious, one is, as they say, WOKE,” Lee explained. “Even though you’re gonna be aware of the surroundings that you live in, and the world that you live in, there’s certain things that are wrong (and) you gonna speak out about it. If you’re asleep, or in many cases, especially with the young brothas’ on the South Side of Chicago who are in pain. So they self medicate with the lean, pills and then they got a gun. These young brothas are okay if they don’t live to see their 18 birthday. We gotta get around that.”