Oscar and Grammy award winning singer Jennifer Hudson addressing delegates at Global Education & Skills Forum 2018 in Dubai on Sunday. Photo: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Academy Award winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson spoke about creating an inclusive and safe environment for future generations as she addressed an audience at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai.

“I always tell the kids I meet during my charity work, there’s more to life than the block you live on,” she stated.

The actress helms the Julian D King Foundation in Chicago, which was founded a decade ago in memory of her nephew who, along with her mother and brother, were murdered in their home in October 2008.

“The Julian D King Foundation was a gift for my mother and my brother. My mother would always tell me to find the positives in the negatives. So, when it was time, I took a few dollars out of my own pocket and started my work.”

The charity is centred around helping underprivileged children in the Chicago south side community.

“The children … they are our future. They need to be prepared for the future and what it holds and it’s our jobs to make that happen,” she stressed. “Your single contribution may not matter to all kids, but it could make a difference to one.”

Hudson continued: “I have learnt a lot since my school days; most lessons are actually learnt through living life. It’s up to us to teach the next generations what’s outside the books and prepare them for a more productive future.”

The Dreamgirls star credited her late mother as the biggest influence in her life.

“As a kid, my mother would tell me I could become whatever I wanted to be. When I told her I wanted to act, she didn’t stop encouraging me and today I have an Academy Award,” said the 36-year-old, who is currently a mentor for budding singers on the reality TV show, The Voice UK.

Hudson will also later this year start work on the biopic of American soul singer, Aretha Franklin, who she counts among her greatest musical inspirations, aside from the late Whitney Houston.

Passing on her own wisdom to the up and coming musicians, Hudson said: “From where I am from, negativity is only knowledge. It simply prepares you for life. No matter what your dreams and goals, if you keep at it, they have no choice but to give in.”