Arts & Culture News

Jennifer Hudson Surprises Booker T. Students During a Rehearsal for The Wiz

Actress and singer Jennifer Hudson surprised some students at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts on Wednesday.
Actress and singer Jennifer Hudson surprised some students at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts on Wednesday. Courtesy of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
It's not uncommon for famous faces to walk the halls at the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. However, the Dallas school got their first visit from an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award) winner on Wednesday.

Singer and star of stage and screen Jennifer Hudson made a surprise appearance for the cast of the 100-year-old arts high school's production of The Wiz, which premieres in September.

Dean of Arts Conservatories Garry William helped organize Hudson's surprise visit for the kids along with Robyn Harris, DISD's executive director of news information.

"It was a total surprise to the students," Williams says.
Williams says Hudson walked into the Montgomery Arts Theater as students were performing the song 
click to enlarge
Actress and singer Jennifer Hudson received her own cast T-shirt from students at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.
Courtesy of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
"Don't Bring Me No Bad News" during rehearsal. She watched the entire rehearsal and applauded at the end as students noticed her in the room.

"She actually came right in the middle of a performance of one of their big numbers so all hands were on deck," Williams says. "She stayed and watched the whole piece, and the kids went crazy afterwards."

Hudson stayed for another 45 minutes to talk about her work and career and about "being resilient and trusting in your abilities and gifts."

"It was an opportunity for her to sit down and discuss with the kids her career in the arts and her preparation process," Williams says. "They also talked about vocal care, her life goals and aspirations as a kid and how to be pushed and motivated by your peers."

The Oscar-winning star of Dreamgirls is in town to promote her upcoming daytime talk show. She told the students that it was her son David's 13th birthday. The cast sang "Happy Birthday" to David on Facetime.

"It was a very surreal moment for a lot of them," Williams says. "It was a great opportunity for our kids. It's something they are going to remember for a lifetime." 
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.