Jennifer Hudson thanks “amazing drag queens” for teaching her stage presence.

The 32-year-old Chicago native reveals she learned a lot of professional tips from the LGBT community as a youth.

Jennifer got her start singing with crossdressers and she is convinced this experience caused her to be the performer she is today.

“I used to go to gay clubs when I was a kid. We were 16 or 17 and my best friend would pretend to be my manager,” she told V magazine.

“He’d have business cards made up and he’d negotiate for me to sing for $25 a song. I’d have these amazing drag queens style me up and down, honey. They would be up there lip-synching and then I’d get up and sing for real – some Whitney Houston or some old-school Shirley Murdock – and I would make all the money. That was like my training, basically.”

Jennifer confesses it took her a long while to discover her voice as an artist.

Now that she has matured as a musician, the star is looking to set new challenges for herself.

“Earlier in my career I was just a soloist singing other people’s songs. Now I really want to be an artist,” Jennifer explained.

“I want to lift the people up, have fun, create a moment. I have my own visions that I want to bring to life.”