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Jennifer Hudson to Play Winnie Mandela in Upcoming Biopic

Jennifer Hudson and Winnie Mandela

According to Variety magazine, Jennifer Hudson has been tapped to portray Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, wife of former South African president Nelson Mandela, in the upcoming biopic ‘Winnie.’ The film — based on the Anne Marie du Preez Bezdrob-penned biography ‘Winnie Mandela: A Life’ — will be directed by South African filmmaker Darrell Roodt (‘Cry,’ ‘Sarafina!‘ and ‘The Beloved Country’).

“I was compelled and moved when I read the script,” Hudson said. “Winnie Mandela is a complex and extraordinary woman and I’m honored to be the actress asked to portray her. This is a powerful part of history that should be told.”

Hudson will begin working on ‘Winnie’ when shooting begins in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa in May 2010. As expected the film will also shoot scenes at Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela served 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment.

The news of Hudson’s role in ‘Winnie’ comes just weeks before the Clint Eastwood-directed ‘Invictus‘ hits theaters. ‘Invictus’ tells the story of Nelson Mandela (played by Morgan Freeman) and his relationship with the captain of South Africa’s rugby team, Francois Pienaar, who is portrayed by Matt Damon.

‘Winnie’ is set to showcase the complexity of the leader’s former wife. Madikizela-Mandela was highly regarded as an activist and mother of a nation but her reputation was marred by her association with the murder of a 14-year old activist, who was believed at the time to be an informant for pro-apartheid officials. She was later convicted of fraud. Madikizela-Mandela denied being involved in the murder. In 2003 she was convicted of 43 counts of fraud and 25 counts of theft.

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