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Jennifer Hudson Proud of American Idol

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She’s been playfully ribbing Simon Cowell in recent weeks, but newly minted Golden Globe winner Jennifer Hudson admits American Idol put her career on the fast track – even though she finished seventh.

Speaking to Billboard magazine prior to last night’s Golden Globes show, Hudson said, “I think I was on the right track for my singing career before American Idol, as I had a vocal coach and was singing on the Disney cruises. But Idol did help speed my career along. I didn’t think things could get any bigger or busier than when I was on Idol, but it has.”

Hudson, 25, took home a best-supporting actress Golden Globe on Sunday for her performance in Dreamgirls.

During Idol‘s third season back in 2004, Cowell was less than impressed with some of Hudson’s singing. Earlier this month, while accepting another best-supporting actress honor for Dreamgirls, from the New York Film Critics Circle, Hudson cracked, “Who cares what Simon Cowell has to say?”

Still, she says she’s thrilled to have been on the FOX program. “American Idol is part of my history, and I’m proud of it,” she tells Billboard. “It’s helped me establish myself as a true artist. Now it’s up to me to further my career on my own. In addition to working on my album, I’m looking for the next right acting role. I definitely want to pursue both music and acting.”

Hudson also had some words of wisdom for her young admirers. “My advice to aspiring artists is to just stay true to who you are and never, ever give up,” she says. “Do your thing and enjoy what you’re doing.”