- (Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Jennifer Hudson and Jacob Latimore co-star in the highly anticipated Christmas movie of the year, "Black Nativity," and both promise that the film will draw crowds this holiday season.
Based on the famous play by Langston Hughes, "Black Nativity" boasts an A-list cast that also includes Tyrese, Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett.
Hudson portrays Naima, a single mother estranged from her reverend father (Forest Whitaker) and mother (Angela Bassett). As Christmas approaches, Naima sends her son Langston (Latimore) to stay with his grandparents in New York City where he pieces together his past and welcomes God's love.
Earlier this month, The Christian Post caught up with Hudson and Latimore on why the film is important to Christian families this Christmas.
"The spiritual side, the church element drew me to the film," Hudson revealed to CP. "I grew up in the church, I'm a holiday fanatic and a family fanatic. I feel as though we're missing those things. Where are those family films where you can watch together as a family and talk about those things?"
Hudson, who hails from Chicago and rose to stardom as a finalist on "American Idol," used her personal experience and musical talent to relate to her character in "Black Nativity."
"Sometimes being on the set, I felt like I was back home at church, it was that familiar," the singer noted. "Music is always there, acting or in a musical, music connects me, helps me find that emotion."
Additionally, Hudson was able to draw on motherhood. The singer has one son, four-year-old David Daniel Otunga, Jr.
"As a parent, I want my child to have the best life, so I guess it's easy to draw from that, it wasn't too far of a stretch for me," she told CP.
Alternately, Latimore said that getting into character as Langston was more exploratory for him as an actor.
"I can't relate living with a single mom not knowing my grandparents, I can only imagine," explained the 17-year-old actor. "The emotion comes out, it's just playing it by ear."
Another plus for Hudson while working on "Black Nativity" was the fact that the film is a Christmas musical. The actress offers songs "Be Grateful," "Test of Faith" and "Fix Me Jesus" as well as other collaborations on the impressive soundtrack for the film.
"My singing is definitely a gift from God and that's why it's so important for me to use it every day," Hudson explained. "Someone once even told me my singing is my gift and acting is my portal for using my gift of singing because I honored my gift of singing."
While the Kasi Lemmons-directed "Black Nativity" also features acting and music by Mary J. Blige, Nas, and Hudson, the film also serves as a tribute to African-American culture in the 20th century. Some names of the characters even honor icons such as Aretha Franklin, but Hudson and Latimore said shedding light on Langston Hughes is the film's best accomplishment.
"This film makes us proud, it drives us that much more to want to do it," Hudson said. "There is that much more substance to carry, and it makes me want to go learn more about Hughes after working on this project."
"His play is revealed in this film, it's on screen, I think it's the most incredible thing," Latimore added. "You don't have to go see it on Broadway, its right here, his vision is amazing."
As for their own Christmas celebrations, Hudson and Latimore agreed on traditions such as shopping, giving, tree lightings, and most importantly; food.
"We like to get started early." Hudson said. "Soul food, tree lighting, decorate the house, with family, shopping. This year there is a debate between an artificial or a real tree, we will figure out our family tradition."
"I love presents," Latimore admitted. "But since I've gotten older I haven't really wanted anything. Christmas is about family."
The true meaning of Christmas is also a part of the stars' celebrations, and Hudson stressed the importance of giving back when it comes to her household each year.
"It's about sharing your blessings giving back, I do a toy drive, no kid should be without," said the singer. "My son gives gifts to others during the holiday season, he gets to learn the real meaning, about giving and not always about getting."
When asked if she attends church, Hudson zealously replied "yes."
"Oh my gosh, we call it being born into the church," she added. "We would go to church Sundays, Mondays, Tuesday, choir practice, Wednesday Bible study … Oh yes, I'll do the same with my son."
The "Black Nativity" soundtrack is available in stores now, and the film hits theaters everywhere Friday, Nov. 29th. Watch the trailer here.