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Jennifer Hudson's tragic family past and how it has shaped her today

The singer is now fronting her own talk show

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Emmy Griffiths
Emmy GriffithsTV & Film Editor
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Jennifer Hudson's talent knows no bounds. Not only is she a talented actress and singer – she recently become one of the few talented artists to join the EGOT club (thanks to winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award) – but she's now a daytime TV star and hosts her talk show, The Jennifer Hudson Show each day on Fox.

MORE: Jennifer Hudson's teenage son is his mom's double in rare video

But away from her professional life, her personal life has been tinged with sadness and there's a tragic backstory to her family's past.

WATCH: Jennifer Hudson's interview with Oprah after her tragic family loss

The star's first break came on talent show American Idol. Despite wowing the judges and viewers at home with her impressive voice, she came in seventh place in 2004. But Jennifer then went on to star in Dreamgirls in 2006 and nabbed as Oscar for her role as Effy in the process.

However, just two years later, the star's mother, brother and nephew were tragically murdered. The 41-year-old's mum Darnell Donnerson, 57, and brother Jason, 29, were shot and killed at Darnell's home in October 2008, while Jennifer's seven-year-old nephew Julian King was reported missing.

MORE: Jennifer Hudson's heartbreaking conversation with son David: 'You saved my life'

MORE: Inside Jennifer Hudson's majestic $3million Chicago megamansion fit for a queen

jennifer hudson and mom© Photo: Getty Images

Jennifer Hudson with her mom, Darnell, at the Oscars in 2007

He was found dead of gunshot wounds three days later, and Jennifer's sister Julia's estranged husband William Balfour was charged with three counts of first-degree murder among other charges. He is currently serving three life sentences without parole. He also received 120 years for aggravated kidnaping and home invasion.

Jennifer opened up about their deaths after William's conviction in 2012, revealing that she had decided to forgive her brother-in-law for his actions. Speaking to Oprah Winfrey on Oprah's Next Chapter, she said: "I feel like for the most part it's not his fault. It's how he was brought up. We tried to offer love, but you were so far gone, that you couldn't even see that.

"A lot of things came out, that we didn't even know about, from his upbringing, which is like he never had a chance. Had you had the love my mother gave us, or the background that some have, then you would've stood a chance."

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Julia and Jennifer have set up a foundation in their son and nephew's memory

She admitted: "There were so many shocks involved in it. Like, who do I grieve for first? Or, who do I start with? It's bits and pieces. It's too much. You're confused. Your emotions are confused.

Following the tragedy, Jennifer and her sister Julia created The Julian D. King Gift Foundation which aims to provide stability, support and positive experiences for children in honour of Julian. The charity also hosts an annual 'Hatch Day' in tribute to Jennifer's nephew.

On the charity's site, Jennifer writes: "He always wanted to hatch things. He got it from a cartoon. It was something I wanted, a hatch day. He would say, 'Today is my hatch day.' This is our way of giving our hatch day and being able to help other kids through his memory." 

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