Jamie Foxx (1967- )

Jamie Foxx, Django Unchained French premiere, Paris, January 7, 2013
Photo by Georges Biard (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Actor, singer, comedian, and musician, Jamie Foxx was born Eric Marlon Bishop in Terrell, Texas on December 13, 1967. He was adopted by his maternal grandparents Mark and Estelle Tolley after his parents’ divorce when he was still an infant. His grandmother introduced him to the piano at age three, and by age 15 Bishop was the musical director and choir leader at Terrell’s New Hope Baptist Church. He attended United States International University in San Diego on a piano scholarship, studied classical piano at Juilliard, and left school in 1988 without graduating.

On a dare, Bishop decided to perform at a stand-up comedy open mic night in Los Angeles in 1989, which jump started his comedy and acting career. As he got more comedy engagements, he created a stage name (Foxx in ode to comedian Red Foxx, and the gender-neutral name Jamie because women tended to get priority spots for open mic nights). This led to Foxx being cast on the Fox television series In Living Color (1990-1994). Foxx then starred in WB Network’s The Jamie Foxx Show, which ran from 1996 to 2002.

Foxx’s first film role was in The Truth About Cats and Dogs (1996). His acclaimed breakout performances in Any Given Sunday (1999) and Ali (2001) led to his being chosen for the role of Ray Charles in the movie Ray (2003). In 2004 Foxx received awards for best actor at Academy Awards, the Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Awards all for his role in Ray. The same year Foxx also won an Image Award for his role in the television movie Redemption, and was nominated for best supporting actor in the movie Collateral, making him the first African American to be nominated for multiple academy awards the same year. In 2007, Foxx was the executive director of the HBO Film “Life Support,” starring Queen Latifah. The film’s story of an AIDS activist in a black community inspired Foxx to partner with the National Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta on a social media campaign to increase HIV prevention and testing awareness, called the “I Know” Campaign.

After starring in Ray, Foxx released the album Unpredictable in December 2005 which was eventually nominated for multiple Grammy, Billboard Music, Soul Train Music, and American Music Awards. He received three Grammy nominations for his next album Intuition (2008), which debuted at number three on the Billboard Music Chart. He won his first Grammy award for the 2010 single “Blame-It” from the album. The single also broke records by holding the number one spot for 12 consecutive weeks on the Urban Mainstream Chart. In 2006 Foxx launched a comedy and music radio station called Foxxhole with SIRIUS Satellite Radio which he continues to run.