Jamie Foxx is a worldwide celebrity. His acting and singing careers are known to many but few know about his childhood, and the lingering questions that he is still striving to answer. All too often, average citizens look at Hollywood celebrities as people from a different walk of life. Those who fill movie theatres, buy CDs, and tune in on a nightly basis to watch their favourite shows tend to believe that their best-loved celebrities live a completely different life. It is true that celebrities earn millions of dollars and have the wealth to enjoy different things than average Joes. However, the money that celebrities earn does not change who they are as a person. Actors, singers, directors, and other wealthy individuals still have dark secrets in life and issues that cause them to lose sleep and question who they are as a person. Jamie Foxx is well known in the United States and around the world for his acting, singing, and song writing. He has appeared in a number of high-profile films in the 21st century, but the shine of those accomplishments has not removed the issues that haunt him from his childhood.
Don’t Mess with Texas
The world today knows the man as Jamie Foxx, but he was born as Eric Marlon Bishop on December 13, 1967. Foxx was born in the small town of Terrell, Texas in the eastern portion of the state. He is the son of Louise Annette T alley Dix on and Darrell Bishop. When he was just seven months old, his parents gave him up to Louise Annette’s adoptive parents, Esther Marie and Mark Talley. The Talley’s had adopted Foxx’s mother when she was a child, and would now dedicate their time to raising him in Terrell. Esther Marie was a domestic worker and nursery operator, while Mark was employed as a yard worker. Foxx grew up during a dif ficult era in Texas. The city was, at the time, a racially segregated area. There were distinct neighbourhoods composed of various demographics, and F oxx grew up in the Talley household in the black quarter of the town. Esther Marie and Mark raised Foxx with a strict Baptist background, attending weekly services at New Hope Baptist Church in Terrell. His upbringing in Texas would both display his immense potential and leave him with questions that still have not been answered to this day.
Capitalising on Talent
When Foxx attended church with his adoptive parents, he quickly became involved in music with the church. At the age of five, he began playing the piano. By the time he was a teenager, he was a part-time pianist and choir leader at the Baptist church. His musical skills were far from the only talents he displayed. In second grade, he had earned a reputation as a jokester. Rather than the typical jokester, constantly looking for trouble, he was a youngster capable of telling a joke that left listeners in stitches. His second-grade teacher used that joke-telling ability as a reward for his classmates. When the class behaved, the teacher would allow Foxx to tell the students a few jokes. As he grew up, Foxx went on to attend Terrell High School where his athletic abilities came to the fore.
In addition to managing top grades, he played for the school’s basketball and football teams. He was the starting quarterback for the team, becoming the first player in the school’s history to pass for more than 1,000 yards. Like many young Texas football players, he dreamed of playing for the Dallas Cowboys someday. After high school, he attended the United States International University on a scholarship. He studied classical music and composition while in school. As a student there, he nurtured his natural singing ability and love for composing musical scores. His road to Hollywood started, unknown to many, in a comedy club in 1989. On the dare of a girlfriend, he stepped up to an open mic night to tell his jokes. Noticing that female comedians received first calls to perform, he listed his name as Jamie Foxx.
He chose Jamie because he thought it was ambiguous enough to avoid bias, and chose Foxx as a tribute to the famous comedian Redd Foxx. His comedic ability helped open doors in Hollywood. His career started with various, recurring roles on In Living Color from 1991 to 1994. He went on to play the role of Jamie King, the main character, in all 100 episodes of The Jamie Foxx Show (1996-2001).
Foxx made his feature film debut in 1992 in the film Toys, but it was not until his leading r ole in 1999 in the film Any Given Sunday that he gained international notoriety. Following his appearance in that film, he began landing larger roles in a variety of different films. His most successful role today came in the Ray Charles biopic, entitled Ray. Playing the role of Charles, Foxx sang many of the songs himself. He won an Academy Award for Best Actor, Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of Charles.
Foxx has a smile that is infectious and a work rate that is respected by all in Hollywood. His contributions to acting, singing, and comedy are unquestionable. However, the departure of his parents from his life at such a young age leaves many unanswered questions. Foxx has admitted recently in numerous interviews that he wonders why his parents left him. As the actor put it himself, “I’m a good dude. I was not the kid getting in trouble. I was quarterback on the high school football team.” Yet he never saw his parents after they left, despite the fact that his father (in particular) had remained in Terrell, living in a home just 28 miles away. In early 2014, he began a quest to reconcile with his birth parents and, hopefully, understand more about himself in the process. His efforts to make amends with his parents are succeeding, with his mother at least. Louise moved in to Foxx’s home recently, giving mother-son duo the opportunity to reconnect with each other.
Foxx has said that having his mother live with him is an eye-opening experience. Spending more time around her, watching her movements and behaviours, helps him better understand his own character and see from where they are inherited. Unfortunately, the quest to reconcile with his father remains a work in progress. His father changed his name to Shahid Abdula after converting to Islam many years ago, and was completely out of touch with Foxx’s life growing up. His attempts to reconcile with his parents show that behind every Hollywood celebrity, there is a personal side that few know about. In Foxx’s case, there are personal issues that many in society are all too familiar with themselves.