RAISING KIDS is sort of like driving a boat—at least that’s how Jamie Foxx thinks about it. “You see a wave coming, what’s the first thing you want to do? Throttle down, right? No. You can’t. You’ve got to throttle up,” he says between sips of bourbon on the rocks (specifically, BSB-Brown Sugar Bourbon, a company he acquired in March). “Your kids are going to test you. So you’ve got to drive through that shit.”
Ruminations on modern-day parenting from someone like Foxx—who’s spent the past 30 years entertaining us—are anecdotes about his children and friends’ kids (who call him “Uncle Jamie”) that come punctuated with impersonations and timing so sharp and effortless he’s got everyone in his immediate vicinity at West Hollywood’s scenester seafood eatery Catch hanging on the edge of their seat, waiting for the punchline.
And with Jamie Foxx, there’s almost always a punchline.
That’s what makes him so great at everything he brings to the screen or to the stage or to his music or as a bon vivant over plates of sushi and Wagyu. Foxx entrances simply by throwing all of himself into whatever he’s doing.
Boom, Foxx moves on to recounting another dad tale—this one involving his preteen nephew, a wayward basketball, and a window—that has me, two waiters, and several tables of strangers doubled over in laughter. “When the window broke, I’m sitting in my bungalow trying to enjoy my shit, and some of the glass hit me in the motherfucking head! I went crazy,” he says, flailing his arms. “Like . . . goddamn, bro. Why’re y’all playing basketball inside the house? They’re dunking on each other and shit. I get it. I’m a kid, too, so I was like, ‘Did you at least dunk? Now, get out here and clean this shit the fuck up!’”
Parenting has been on Foxx’s mind a lot these days—and not just because it provides endless comedic fodder. The 53-year-old father of two spent much of the past year working on his memoir, Act Like You Got Some Sense: And Other Things My Daughters Taught Me. “The toughest thing in the world is doing whatever you do and maybe being successful at it but not being sure-footed with your kids,” Foxx says. “It’s a look at my life and how I grew up, what I went through, and how it prepared me, or didn’t prepare me, for when I had kids.” Act Like You Got Some Sense—its title gleaned from a phrase his late grandmother Estelle told him often—hilariously and poignantly details his upbringing as well as his experiences raising daughters Corinne, 27, and Anelise, 13, while orbiting Hollywood as one of its biggest and hardest-working stars.
When I ask Foxx what keeps him up at night and jolts him awake in the morning, the answer’s the same for both: the opportunity to dream, and the opportunity to realize those dreams because of his talent (and, frankly, his star power).
“Opportunity gets me moving. Great idea, then I went to sleep and I woke up and that shit was in my dream. Now, I wrote the Black Ocean’s Eleven, or I just rewrote Misery,” he says, before telling me that his flip on Stephen King’s psychological horror novel is an over-the-top take on an encounter he once had with a couple who won an evening with him in a charity auction. “You know what an actor loves more than money? Compliments. I was supposed to be there for 30 minutes. I ended up staying there for two hours—doing shit from Ray. But then it got weird. So I built upon that.”
In Act Like You Got Some Sense, he recounts how hard it was to be taken seriously as an actor in Hollywood. Though he had made the leap from TV to film, he hadn’t been in anything that gave him the cachet of peers like Martin Lawrence, Eddie Murphy, and Chris Rock. When he got his shot to audition for Oliver Stone’s football drama Any Given Sunday, he was rattled when the director told him plainly, “You’re no good.” Foxx eventually scored the lead role of quarterback Willie Beamen (after Puff Daddy didn’t work out), but that moment of doubt from Stone made me think about how often white directors may have overlooked Black talent simply because they had trouble looking beyond the culturally specific roles of the actors’ past. I ask Foxx how he’s been able to dabble in all these worlds while staying so firmly connected to his community.
Before another round of Foxx’s bourbon arrives at the table (it’s smooth enough that it takes me a bit to realize we’ve got a buzz going), I ask him about legacy. It’s a weighty question, especially considering part of his legacy is literally seated right next to him—oblivious to her parents telling me about the progress she’s been making with her music. Foxx reaches his hand out to his daughter and asks her to tap out the rhythm of whatever song is streaming into her buds. He wants to show her mother how Anelise is able to identify beat movements, and his face widens with a smile when she begins to tap her finger across his hand.
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