Page last updated at 12:28 GMT, Thursday, 19 November 2009

Jennifer Hudson to star in Winnie Mandela film

Jennifer Hudson, file image
Hudson is said to be thrilled about the new film

Hollywood actress Jennifer Hudson is to play Nelson Mandela's ex-wife, Winnie, in a film about her life, reports say.

Variety magazine reported Hudson was thrilled about the role and has described Ms Madikizela-Mandela as a "powerful and extraordinary woman".

Ms Madikizela-Mandela played a vital role in freeing her husband after 27 years in jail but has since been linked to a murder and convicted of fraud.

South African film-maker Darrell Roodt will direct the film.

His work also includes world-renowned films Cry, The Beloved Country and Sarafina.

Hudson is the second international actor set to play a South African icon in recent months.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, file image
Ms Madikizela-Mandela is still known as the "mother of the nation"

Hollywood is also preparing to release Invictus, a Clint Eastwood film about Mr Mandela in which US actor Morgan Freeman will play South Africa's first black president.

Nelson Mandela and Ms Madikizela-Mandela were divorced in 1996 - six years after his release from prison.

Her role in the release of her ex-husband is celebrated by many South Africans and she is still known as the "mother of the nation" but she is no stranger to controversy.

She was implicated in the kidnap and murder of young activist Stompie Seipei, who was believed to be an informer for the apartheid government - although she has always denied the charges.

She was convicted of theft and fraud in 2003.

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