Jennifer Hudson knows her way around a good fairy tale, having gone from a working-class Chicago neighborhood to "American Idol" to an Oscar- and Grammy-winning megastar. Now, to top it off, she's officially a princess.
In the latest of the Annie Leibovitz-shot "Disney Dream Portraits" to promote the Magic Kingdom, J.Hud is done over as Princess Tiana, the title character from the hit 2009 'toon "The Princess and the Frog."
Looking sweet yet glamorous in an elegant lily-pad green and ivory gown, Hudson gazes on a frog floating in a pond under the headline: "Where you always follow your heart."
Playing dress-up had special significance for Hudson.
"What made me want to be a part of this project is … [playing] the first black Disney princess!" Hudson says. "And also, I'm a Disney girl. My career kind of started with Disney, so it's kind of seeing things come full circle. It's showing what the Disney magic is all about"
"This experience is quite emotional for me, it means and it stands for so much," Hudson continued. "To be here and to be part of it and help bring the princess to life, the 'Frog Princess' that is, it really is a Disney dream. This really is every girl's dream, and it’s a Disney dream come true."
While Disney has come under fire for some of its princess plot lines, Hudson says Tiana is an especially strong role model for girls.
"I like what the 'Frog Princess' character stands for," Hudson said. "She's a hard worker. She's a young girl with dreams and goals. And throughout her journey, you get to see her dreams manifest. Even at an early age, 17, 18 years old, [you see her] opening her little restaurant and being the little girl with dreams."
Hudson spent part of her childhood in Florida, and was a regular visitor to Walt Disney World. She says she's passing on her love for the Mouse House to her 3-year-old son, David, who seems excited about Jennifer's new gig.
"He's growing up and I'm teaching him about it," Hudson says. "And even for him to be here, to be a part of this experience, he's like, 'My mom's the Frog Princess?!? Huh?' He watches [the movie] with his little girl cousins. They'll say, 'Let’s watch the "Frog Princess,"' and he'll say, 'Mommy's gonna be the Frog Princess!'"
And while this is Hudson's first time playing Princess Tiana, she's already had a connection to the character: Anika Noni Rose, who voiced Tiana in "The Princess and the Frog," was one of Hudson's co-stars in "Dreamgirls."
The ad with Hudson as Tiana will appear in upcoming issues of Vanity Fair and O. Hudson, meanwhile, will next be seen on screen in "Winnie Mandela," the fact-based drama in which she plays the South African civil rights activist (and wife of Nelson Mandela), due in theaters September 6.