Fans of Jennifer Hudson‘s resonating voice describe it as deep, heavy, and powerful; having a rich timber and tone is a gift that has made room for her throughout her highly successful career.
As a first soprano, her gospel-infused vocals have earned her an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and recently a Tony. In September, the multi-talented artist debuted her exciting new talk show, The Jennifer Hudson Show. She is also making room for other Black women-owned businesses on behalf of Mastercard’s Strivers Mentor Collective Initiative.
Last year, Hudson worked with the global technology company with the launch of its Strivers Initiative, a program focused on helping Black women-owned businesses expand their enterprises with grants and other tools so they can reinvest in their communities.
“For years, Black women have built businesses at a pace far greater than any other minority group, with a focus on building businesses that give back to their communities. The pandemic has delivered financial headwinds that threaten the economic progress of Black female business owners and because of this, Mastercard is taking action, while also calling on consumers and [corporations] alike to shop, share and support these women,” said Mastercard’s Cheryl Guerin, EVP Marketing and Communications in North America.
Based on “The 2019 State of Women-Owned Business Report” by American Express, Black women are the most flourishing demographic of business owners in the U.S.; collectively, this group opened 2.7 million businesses, reports JP Morgan. However, many lack one necessary component to ensure long-term success: mentorship. Forbes previously published that 76% of people believe having a mentor is crucial to advance their career, yet, only 37% have one.
Now, Hudson is joining Mastercard’s Strivers Mentor Collective, which provides Black women-owned small businesses with one-on-one mentorship sessions with subject matter experts, celebrity entrepreneurs, and Mastercard ambassadors who have lived the entrepreneurial journey firsthand, including Fearless Fund Co-Founder Arian Simone, acclaimed chef Marcus Samuelsson, and others. The small business owners— winners of the second-annual Fearless Strivers Grant Contest—also receive $10,000 in grants and digital tools to help their businesses thrive.
Yolanda Baruch: You partnered with Mastercard with its Strivers Initiative. Why was it so vital for you to support Black women business owners?
Jennifer Hudson: Because I am a black woman, I love seeing Mastercard supporting us in our efforts, and I definitely wanted to be a part of that. I remember when we ventured together and said, ‘Why me?’ Then I was like, because I’m a Black woman with my own business. I love being able to support all of us and seeing us have that support.
Baruch: Can you talk about mentorship and how you pay it forward with the Mastercard Strivers Collective mentorship program?
Hudson: The mentorship is supporting each other, [giving grants], getting platforms, and creating a space for us to thrive. I think it’s a group effort, but again, it is led by Mastercard and someone like myself, and hopefully more others, because we all should be shining. Again, I’m an advocate for this, and I love it. I’m one of those women as well.
Baruch: You know the obstacles Black women-owned businesses face; what advice would you give future entrepreneurs to strive, even though those hurdles may appear?
Hudson: Well, hurdles will come; we all face them. Unfortunately, it’s a part of it, but I find that sometimes we always wait for others to validate our visions, but [we should] trust ourselves and go forth with it. You have to cheer yourself on just the same and continue to do that. If you keep at your goal, it has no choice but to give in, and as we see, we’re evolving in a way where we can support each other that much more. But most of all, allow your passion to lead you, and don’t wait for anyone’s validation. Proceed on your own because it’s your dream and your vision; they may not dream as big as you do. That’s why they cannot see your vision. But that does not mean you shouldn’t carry through with your goals, dreams, and best.
Baruch: You launched your talk show on September 12th. Can you tell me what made you decide to adventure into the talk show space?
Hudson: I love people and talking and come from a singing and talking background. If I’m not singing, I’m talking; if I’m not talking, I’m singing; this is another part of me and who I am. The only difference is I now have a couch to sit on and a platform to do it, roll the camera because it’s just a part of who I am. I’ve been blessed to be in this industry for almost; I want to say, 20 years at this point when people have gotten to know me through characters or songs, but I feel like now’s the opportunity to get to know the human being and the person. I want to get to know everyone else—just the same.
Baruch: Can we expect any future projects from you?
Hudson: Definitely, just because I’m talking doesn’t mean I’m going to stop singing and acting. So yes, more films, more music, and I’m going to dream up new dreams. You know, that doesn’t mean it stops here; it’s like, again, I’ve been blessed to achieve a lot of my goals at a reasonable age, I think, and so now it’s what can I dream up now?
Mastercard’s Strivers Mentorship application deadline is 12/31/22.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.