Fantastic Mr Foxx
From an article in Sorted Magazine
From humble beginnings playing piano as a young Baptist in a small Texas city, to becoming one of the most treasured performers in the world today, Jamie Foxx is a remarkable man. Here he talks about the role his faith has played in his various careers… as a comedian, a musician, an actor, and an inspiration.
Faith is often seen as deeply personal, perhaps even just not interesting enough for audiences who would prefer to laugh, rather than have their thoughts provoked. Amusing celebrity anecdotes don’t tend to touch on belief systems. And this is odd when you think about it: surely a person’s religion is worth shouting about?
Then you get Jamie Foxx, the multi-talented US performer who is delighted to be asked about the higher powers that invigorate and inspire his life and loves. "A lot of people talk about being religious and going to church when they were younger or not famous or whatever – but I really am religious and I really did go to church all of the time growing up," he asserts.
"I know where I am going when I die and whereabouts in Heaven I will be. That’s not to cause offence to anyone else who doesn’t; I just feel confident and happy with the way I have led my life up to this point, but the faith that I have and my practising of that faith."
Foxx makes an interesting point – he doesn’t wish to cause offence to anyone who doesn’t share his faith. And this is a sign of the times: people seem almost frightened to reveal their beliefs in a world where religion has become perhaps more divisive than ever; others approach it with an air of incredulity, hostility even; for some it just isn’t cool enough.
Foxx, though, doesn’t subscribe to such ideas. Raised by his adoptive grandparents, as a boy he was a pianist and choir leader in his local church. Although he was primarily interested in becoming a recording artist, given his other obvious ability – to make people laugh – he found himself veering towards stand-up comedy.
"I never felt nervous because the first time I was ever at a comedy club was when they had an open mic night where anyone could just go up and tell some jokes, It was a win-win situation with the fact that if I went up, had a play around and it went well, then that’s cool. If I was to bomb out myself just like the last guy did, then that was also cool because I wasn’t trying to earn a contract or anything!"
Besides, at that point, Foxx’s true passion was music, not comedy. "Along with God, music was always my first love. it felt like it was something that I had always been doing. It felt right, natural and like I could make something of a career out of it."
Foxx forged ahead. In 1991, he joined the cast of Black American comedy sketch show In Living Color which gave Foxx a prime-time showcase. Foxx’s first film role came quickly in the 1992 Robin Williams comedy/fantasy vehicle Toys, and by 1996 he had his own sitcom – The Jamie Foxx Show – which ran for five years in the US. In the meantime, he’d moved into drama too with Oliver Stone’s star-studded American football story, Any Given Sunday.
Via ever-more blockbusting movies – Collateral with Tom Cruise, Ali with Will Smith, superhero villain Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the titular freed slave on a rescue mission in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, and his Academy Award-winning portrayal of talented but troubled musician Ray Charles in Ray – Foxx hadn’t just found his feet but rather stood on more solid ground than many of his contemporaries.
His success, he says, has a lot to do with being in the right place, as well as being afforded the freedom and opportunity to do what he loves. "There’s something about working in the entertainment industry that makes you feel alive. It’s a very special feeling to know you’re in the right place doing what you’re doing, If you feel like you’re not comfortable, you’re probably not in the right role or place in your life, think about making a change."
His outstanding turn in Ray aside, Foxx has released five studio albums. While the first, Peep This (1994) didn’t hit the heights he would have hoped, 2005 double-Platinum release Unpredictable achieved huge global success in the US and UK. And his two hugely successful collaborations with Kanye West – earworm Gold Digger particularly – elevated him to ‘household name’ status in the music industry. He’s just as likely to appear on other people’s recordings as they are on his. His music videos are star-studded affairs. His star power reaches far and wide.
Foxx is grateful not just for the opportunities he has been given, but for the personal relationship he has with Jesus. "It’s all about Jesus to me. I feel that no matter what I do or say in my life, Jesus understands why I act in the ways that I do – and I mean in my real life, not when I am acting in movies or comedy or anything like that. There are times in your life when you have to use the teachings that you’ve grown up with and the following of Jesus to get you through hard times, difficult situations or anything where you feel you might not be able to make it on your own. It doesn’t matter who we are; we can all feel alone or afraid at some time in our lives".
Being true to himself, Foxx says, is of paramount importance, as is knowing where to go to harness his inner strength. "It doesn’t matter what other people think. If you can be truthful to yourself, you will always be good with Jesus and I know the Bible inside out to the point where I know exactly where to go for the passage which will make me feel better about that situation in any point in my life. My energy comes from a special place, but it is all based in my faith. Religion is ultimately about respecting the past but looking forward and embracing the next chapter. It’s the easiest thing to achieve when you think of it like that… just keep moving forward, keep believing."
Read the full article here.