It’s a breezy Monday afternoon in October, and I’ve already got Jennifer Hudson riled up. Hudson is speaking with as much passion as her Dreamgirls character Effie telling—er, sangin’ to—her lover that, hell or high water, she’s staying with him. Given the tense political climate at the time, you’d be forgiven if you eavesdropped on our conversation and assumed it was related to that. But, it was quite the opposite.
Hudson and I are at the part of our discussion where she’s explaining what Olay’s newest campaign—Maximize, Don’t Minimize Me—and the message about “maximizing” women means to her. “I’ve had a lot of strong women in my life, from my grandmother to my mother and sister. They made me strong. I don’t believe in being minimized,” Hudson says in the accompanying campaign video. “You know, when we walk in the room, it’s nothing but power.” The campaign continues the affordable beauty giant’s mission to champion women in any capacity, an offshoot of its 2018 Face Anything movement.
This time around, Olay recruited Hudson and astrobiologist Alyssa Carson, poet Amina Brown, actress Busy Phillips, All Worthy designer Hunter McGrady, Girls Who Code founder Reshema Saujani, and more to spread the messaging with her.
Below, ELLE.com speaks to the multi-hyphenate about positive affirmations, uplifting the women in her life, and how portraying such powerful women maximized her confidence.
2020 hasn’t been the easiest year. What positive affirmations do you find yourself returning each day?
I’m always looking for those positive affirmations coffee mugs. Yesterday, I woke up and I saw this coffee mug that said, “Thankful,” and I had to stop and think about what am I thankful for today? A simple word like “thankful” allows me to start the day on a positive note, in a positive tone. Or I’ll be in the tub and read a positive message or inspirational messages to trigger my brain to start the day off positively. I guess I’m trying to find the positives in the day and embracing the time that I have to reconnect with myself and enjoy regular everyday life, whether it be bike riding, working out, sleeping in, taking care of myself, stuff like that.
How has this moment of stillness allowed you to reconnect with yourself? What new things have you discovered?
It has given me time to reconnect with what my idea of beauty is. What is it that makes me feel beautiful? I’ll admit I get so busy doing so many things that I sometimes forget about myself. So this time has allowed me to reconnect, refresh, and create a routine outside of work and the world and everything else that takes me away from me. With this quarantine, I was able to have what I call my “golden time.” I love playing in the mirror. When I was in college, I would do my little makeup at any hour of the day. [My friends would] be like, Where are you going? I would be just going to bed. And so to be able to play like that again has been fun. And as women, we rarely get time to ourselves because we do run the world. Do you know how empowering that is? Do you know how necessary it is? How needed it is?
What’s the one beauty rule you live by?
Invest in the Olay Regenerist Retinol24 Max Night Face Moisturizer. You’ve got to get you some. [laughs] But seriously, having consistency is important to me. And what I mean by that is everybody’s lifestyle is different. Everybody’s perspective is different. Being someone who’s life is constantly moving and using all these different products, this moisturizer gives me a base. I’m sensitive about my skin. So I’m particular about how I care for it. And this gives me that structure and does what it needs to do.
How did Olay’s ‘Maximize, Don’t Minimize Me’ message align with your own? What does this partnership mean to you?
I’m a Black woman, and I love that Olay wants to maximize us and empower us and unify us, and that’s everything that I live by. When they came to me, I knew it was the perfect fit and the ideal message that is needed and necessary.
How do you “maximize” the women in your own life?
I think for me maximize means coming together. Too often, women are put against each other. We need to know how to flip it and make it about each other and know it’s okay to compliment my sister and her greatness and her beauty and her strength. You can walk out confidently because you know who you are and maximize your sister or your friend as well. Be like, “You got this, you sharp.” The more confident you are in yourself, then the more you can give to others. It wouldn’t hurt to change the approach of what we’re so used to. [Women are] used to being treated like, Who wore it better? Who was more of this? But she’s great, and I’m great, and we can be great together. So I maximize by highlighting and supporting my fellow women.
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Speaking of uplifting and empowering women, you’re known for some potent and unforgettable roles where you’re always celebrating Black women. How have these roles and the women that you’re representing maximized your confidence and strength?
I wouldn’t be here without those ladies. I’m in love with acknowledging greatness. That’s what inspires me. One of my favorite things about what I do is being surrounded by great people who are great at what they do, so I love to honor the greats. The Jennifer Holidays, the Aretha Franklins, the Whitney Houstons, because those are the people that inspired me. I am confident in myself because of their confidence and the greatness they left us with or and are still giving us. Acknowledging each other and lifting each other in that way helped a great deal.
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