Foxx, Jamie


Foxx, Jamie
▪ 2006
 Stand-up comedian Jamie Foxx proved that he was not just a funnyman when in 2005 he collected a best actor Academy Award for his riveting portrayal of soul singer Ray Charles in the film Ray. In addition, Foxx earned a best supporting actor nomination for another serious role, that of a taxi driver abducted by a professional killer in the thriller Collateral. For Ray, Foxx not only mastered Charles's physical mannerisms but also captured the blind singer's warmth, determination, and recklessness. He spent time with Charles prior to his death in 2004 and wore prosthetic eyelids that impaired his vision. Foxx's performance also garnered best acting awards from the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild, and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

      Foxx was born Eric Bishop on Dec. 13, 1967, in Terrell, Texas. His parents split up soon after his birth, and he was adopted by his maternal grandparents. He began playing piano about the age of five and became keenly interested in music, later earning a scholarship to United States International University (now Alliant International University) in San Diego to study classical piano and music theory. (Foxx performed all the piano-playing scenes in Ray.)

      It was while Foxx was a student in San Diego that he began performing at local comedy clubs. At open-microphone nights he delighted audiences with his bitingly funny impersonations of former U.S. president Ronald Reagan, boxer Mike Tyson, and comedian Bill Cosby. Foxx discovered, however, that it was easier for women to get stage time at “open mics,” so he adopted the gender-neutral name of Jamie Foxx. In 1991 Foxx won the Bay Area Black Comedy Competition, which led to an audition for the Fox television network's hit sketch comedy show In Living Color. His impersonations and his drag character Wanda, an ugly yet sexually aggressive woman, impressed the show's creator and star, Keenen Ivory Wayans, and earned Foxx a job as a regular. At that time Foxx also had a recurring role on the sitcom Roc.

      Foxx's success on television led to new opportunities in music, television, and film. In 1994 he released his debut album, Peep This, which he also produced and composed. He sang on the 2004 R&B hit “Slow Jamz” with rappers Twista and Kanye West, and Foxx and West again teamed up on the 2005 hit “Gold Digger.” Foxx released a second album, Unpredictable, in late 2005. In 1996 he landed his own TV sitcom, The Jamie Foxx Show, on the fledgling WB network; the show lasted five seasons. Foxx's film career began in 1992, but he did not land his first feature role until 1997, in the sex comedy Booty Call. His breakthrough performance in terms of acting came in the football drama Any Given Sunday (1999), in which Foxx played a young quarterback who is outwardly cocky but terrified of failure. That performance, along with his role as corner man Drew (“Bundini”) Brown in the biopic Ali, showed that Foxx could dig much deeper than simple impersonation and led to more complex roles and greater success.

James Hennelly

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▪ American actor
original name  Eric Bishop 
born Dec. 13, 1967, Terrell, Tex., U.S.
 
 American comedian, musician, and actor, who became known for his impersonations on the television sketch-comedy show In Living Color and later proved himself a versatile film actor, especially noted for his Oscar (Academy Award)-winning portrayal of Ray Charles (Charles, Ray) in Ray (2004).

      Foxx's parents separated soon after his birth, and he was adopted by his maternal grandparents. He began playing piano about age five and became keenly interested in music, later earning a scholarship to United States International University (now Alliant International University) in San Diego to study classical piano and music theory. It was while Foxx was a student in San Diego that he began performing at local comedy clubs. At open-microphone nights he delighted audiences with his bitingly funny impersonations of former U.S. president Ronald Reagan (Reagan, Ronald W.), boxer Mike Tyson (Tyson, Mike), and comedian Bill Cosby (Cosby, Bill). Foxx discovered, however, that it was easier for women to get stage time at open-microphone nights, so he adopted the gender-neutral name of Jamie Foxx. In 1991 Foxx won the Bay Area Black Comedy Competition, which led to an audition for the Fox television network's hit show In Living Color. His impersonations and his drag character Wanda, an ugly yet sexually aggressive woman, impressed the show's creator and star, Keenen Ivory Wayans, and earned Foxx a job as a regular. At that time Foxx also had a recurring role on the sitcom Roc.

      Foxx's success on television led to new opportunities in music, television, and film. In 1994 he released his debut album, Peep This, which he also produced and composed. Two years later he landed his own television sitcom, The Jamie Foxx Show, which lasted five seasons. Foxx's first feature role in a movie was in the sex comedy Booty Call (1997), but his breakthrough performance came with Any Given Sunday (1999), in which Foxx played a young quarterback who is outwardly cocky but terrified of failure. That performance, along with his role as cornerman Drew (“Bundini”) Brown in the biopic Ali (2001), showed that Foxx's acting abilities extended well beyond simple comedic impersonations.

 In 2005 Foxx collected a best actor Academy Award for his riveting performance of soul singer Ray Charles (Charles, Ray) in Ray. He not only mastered Charles's physical mannerisms but also captured the blind singer's warmth, determination, and recklessness. That year Foxx was also nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actor for his role in the thriller Collateral (2004), in which he appeared as a taxi driver abducted by a professional killer (played by Tom Cruise (Cruise, Tom)). Foxx released his second album, Unpredictable, in 2005, and it quickly rose to the top of the charts. He also sang with Kanye West on the hit single "Gold Digger" (2005). Foxx's later movies include Jarhead (2005), a film set during the Persian Gulf War, and the musical Dreamgirls (2006), in which he starred as a record executive opposite Eddie Murphy (Murphy, Eddie) and Beyoncé.
 

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Universalium. 2010.

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