My friend Rob and I were fanatical AMERICAN IDOL fans way back when Jennifer Hudson was an aspiring contestant. I think that was the year Fantasia won. But we were devoted Jennifer fans because we could smell the delicious diva simmering underneath the surface, especially when Simon Cowell, in a jaw droppingly wrong headed miscall, declared she would NEVER be a star. Rob and I cried foul. We knew better! And an Oscar and Grammy later, Cowell famously ate crow. Rob and I, to this day, smugly point out we were spot on about Jennifer. But honestly, who could have predicted she would land the iconic Effie role in the film adaptation of the movie DREAMGIRLS and the rest would be history?
Career highs and personal tragedies would follow, but Jennifer stayed strong and very sweet through it all. Most recently she made her mark as a spokesperson for Weight Watchers. Her transformation was truly eye opening. We all remember the frumpy troubled Effie on screen. Now Jennifer pops up on TV looking more like a runway model. And she has Weight Watchers to thank for it.
I was never big on counting points when it came to eating my food. Mostly because my personal favorites, cheese and breads, are too costly and I would run out of points for the whole day right after breakfast. But I have to admit the program was the one thing that worked in my life long battle to bring down my weight. Currently I’m shooting a web series called WHERE THE BEARS ARE about three heavy gay men mixed up in a murder so I’m using that as an excuse to continue ordering fries with my turkey burger. “It’s for the role I’m playing! I’ll worry about battling carbs when we wrap!” And I take comfort in knowing Jennifer will be there once that moment comes, cheering me on and singing her weight loss anthem “Feeling Good”!
Where the hell was she back in 2001 when I first realized I may need professional help? I was vacationing in my home state of Maine with friends, partying hard in the little resort town of Ogunquit, scarfing down fried shrimp and Rose Kennedy cocktails in an orgy of gluttony. Ah, the good old days. Actually come to think of it, not much has changed since then. But that Labor Day weekend was a turning point. I was in a bar, chatting and laughing, when I noticed everyone had finished their drinks. Feeling generous (I tend to be more generous after my third cocktail), I offered to buy the next round. I excused myself and made my way toward the bar. As I rounded the corner, I smacked into a man about the same age as me and looking just as inebriated. I quickly apologized and tried to move around him but we began this awkward dance, trying to get past the other. It was like he didn’t want me to leave and then I noticed he was smiling and looking at me. “Oh, God,” I thought. “Is this guy trying to strike up a conversation?” I certainly wasn’t attracted to him. He was rather dumpy looking, and though I love big men, he just wasn’t able to carry it off. Finally, running out of patience, I stared right into his eyes and said, “Please, I’m just trying to get to the bar.”
And then I was shook into a stunned silence.
I looked at him closer.
He was looking at me.
It was a mirror.
I had walked into a mirror.
And I had just rejected myself.
I joined Weight Watchers the moment my flight landed back in LA and dropped forty pounds in three months.
A lot of that weight has creeped back over the ensuing years as it tends to do. But now I know my guardian angel Jennifer Hudson is around to guide me back to the light when the time is right.