Barbara Walters' Oscar Night Special

Imagine what it's like to be Jamie Foxx this year. He's in an elite group of stars ever to earn two Oscar nominations in a single year -- best supporting actor for "Collateral" and best actor for "Ray."

Imagine the legendary Ray Charles portrayed in a fashion that transcends hard work and talent. Critics and audiences say it's like the role was born with Foxx 37 years ago in tiny Terrell, Texas, and was just waiting for the right moment to emerge.

Foxx credits his grandmother, Estelle Talley, for his piano skills. His parents abandoned him as a baby and Talley raised her grandson to be a classical musician. "She starts talking to God in front of me. 'Jesus, I do everything for him, can you help him, Lord?' And I say 'OK. I'll play,' " he told Walters.

Foxx wanted to be a famous singer, but settled for famous comedian. When he took off for Los Angeles his name was the one he was born with, Eric Marlon Bishop. But he knew that women got to go up early on open mic nights at the comedy clubs, so he invented an androgynous name that stuck: Jamie Foxx.

And, as fate would have it, the first time he really stepped out, he was in heels and playing a woman: Ugly Wanda on the sketch comedy show "In Living Color."

By 1996, Jamie was so hot that he got his own show, "The Jamie Foxx Show."

It hasn't all been accolades and awards. The grandmother who raised him and made him take those piano lessons passed away just as "Ray" was premiering in theaters. As he accepted his Golden Globe, he gave her a tearful tribute.

Foxx told Walters his grandmother was a harsh taskmaster, but one who took good care of him. "I used to think that she was so mean, but when it came down to me [if] there was an argument on the street ... she would come out and take care of it. And everybody knew that she loved Eric Bishop. She loved that little grandson. We were a pair you know," he said.

And with his incredible success, creating a strong family is even more important to Foxx. Though he has never married, Foxx has a 10-year-old daughter who he is devoted to. Several family members live with Foxx, including his sister, a half-sister, another half-sister who has Down's syndrome and a stepfather.

"You know what," Foxx said, "the only thing that you have -- to me -- is your family. Those mornings of waking up and seeing my grandmother cooking at Christmas and arguing with my grandfather and the family coming over, those things I miss more than you could possibly imagine. So now to have all of the success -- you want the other thing too."

If Foxx is called to the stage to accept an Oscar, he says he won't hold back any emotions. "If all of that happens, they've already made jokes about me being the cry baby. But I'm gonna cry. I'm gonna talk about my grandmother."

The Unusually 'Normal' Guy

Most of us go through life afraid of looking foolish or looking like we're not cool. Secretly though, we admire those people who don't care what they look like. Will Ferrell has turned that sort of fearlessness into a career. When he joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live" in 1995, he created a string of characters who were always the least hip people in the room.

What set Ferrell apart was his ability to commit to the character, without shame and without vanity. He was hysterical.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...