Jennifer Hudson
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Glamour

In 2008, Jennifer Hudson’s mother, nephew and brother were killed by her brother-in-law, William Balfour, in Chicago. Several months after the murders, Balfour was sentenced to three life terms in prison. With the controversy surrounding Spike Lee’s newest movie, Chi-raq, many questioned why Hudson chose to star in a movie that doesn’t exactly do anything for Chicago’s reputation for gun violence. 

In a recent interview with W magazine, Hudson says she was hesitant about the movie but realized that Lee chose her for a reason.

“This is reality for me. This is my life. A part of my life,” said Hudson. “I definitely had that moment of like, ‘Are you serious?’ But when I really thought about it, I understood why he came to me, and I thought, ‘You know what? It’s worth me telling my story so that hopefully no one else has a story like this to tell.’”

In the movie, Hudson plays a mother who loses her daughter to gun violence. Hudson went on to say that being a Chicago native was also one of the reasons she accepted the role. And she’ll always have ties to the city.

“The film we’re doing is trying to save my city, as my mother said, take care of home. So for that reason I was like, ‘OK, I get it, it’s worth doing.’ But I don’t think it’s anything I will ever, ever revisit again.

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“If we didn’t have these issues, I don’t think a movie like that would have needed to be made,” the singer continued. “That’s the point of making it, to make people pay attention and say, ‘Guys, we have to start somewhere.’ And it’s not just the city of Chicago. It’s everywhere. It’s a bad time right now, no matter where we look. Kids can’t go to school, people can’t go to church, you can’t go to the movies.”

Lee has caught a lot of flak with his new film, but if there’s one thing you can say about Lee, it’s that his movies always further the conversation. And this time, it’s a much needed one.