"By the time I’m walking out of this room, you’re going to know exactly who I am and what I can do."
Jennifer Hudson is on the other end of the line giving me what feels like a personal pep talk. "I want to encourage women more," she tells me, "to maximize us and create more unity." And that philosophy just so happens to be what her new campaign with Olay is all about — maximizing women. Bustle spoke with Hudson about the women in her life who make her feel "maximized," and what people can do to uplift other women.
What drew you to the campaign with Olay, and how’d you get involved?
When they reached out and I heard about what it was about and what it represented — and the positivity in it — that resonated with me. It’s something I’m passionate about, and it’s very much who I am. It was a no-brainer for me, because I love the message.
Has there been a time when you felt minimized? How did you rise up?
It happens often being a woman, being young, and being successful at an early age. Sometimes you get cut down, challenged, and discouraged, and it comes in many facets and ways and through many people. It happens performance-wise. But I never take it as a negative. I always take it as ammunition to inspire me to prove all the naysayers wrong. That helps drive me. I try never to look at anything as a negative, even if that was the intention. Some people don’t even realize what they are doing, but it’s a matter of what you take from it and do with it. I like to find the positive.
What advice would you give women who want to find the positive?
You have to find your own way. A lot of people project their perspective, but don’t let them impose what their beliefs and thoughts and ideas and views are on you. Know your purpose. Know your mission. Don’t let people sidetrack you from that. As long as you stay true to who you are, you can always achieve what your goal is. You can always prove people wrong. That’s kind of the fun. It’s like a challenge.
Do you have a person or mentor who has helped you feel maximized?
My mother was one of those people. I have a host of powerful women in my family who I have been blessed to grow up with and still have around. They go against the grain. They’ll stand up and be powerful women, and that inspires me still to this day — pulling from them and their teachings and examples.
We’re all powerful. I don’t care how you feel about me or what you think I can’t do — by the time I’m walking out of this room, you’re going to know exactly who I am and what I can do. As my mother used to say, "I can show you better than I can tell you."
What can anyone do to help maximize women?
Too often, we are pitted against each other, but look how powerful one woman is. Imagine if we all came together and continued to empower each other and uplift each other in our greatness. It wouldn’t hurt. Just try it.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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