Jamie Foxx Shares the Trials and Tribulations of Fatherhood, Fame and Family in New Book
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Jamie Foxx is opening up like never before on his childhood, his family, and being a father.
The Dad Stop Embarrassing Me! star penned his first memoir Act Like You Got Some Sense, and, in its pages, he doesn't shy away from discussing the trials and tribulations of family, fame, romance and more.
From his parent's tumultuous relationship, being adopted by his grandmother and book inspiration, Estelle Marie Talley, to finding success as an entertainer, becoming a father and juggling his fame and responsibility, Jamie holds nothing back as he recounts the lessons in life that have shaped him as a father to his daughters, Corrine and Anelise.
"The book is me," the 53-year-old actor told ET's Kevin Frazier of the book. "I went through it with a fine-tooth comb [because] I wanted to make sure if I said something wrong here or something there, I want to make sure I got it. I left it open to be real like it's me [to the readers]. There's no second-guessing."
Jamie Foxx and Daughter Corinne Gush Over Their Favorite Moments Together (Exclusive)
Here's a look at some of the biggest reveals in Act Like You Got Some Sense, which is out now.
He and his father weren't on speaking terms when the older man died.
Jamie credits much of his upbringing to his maternal grandparents who raised him in place of his biological parents. Although his mother kept in contact with him and made in-frequent visits throughout his life, his father was a much more complicated and absent figure in his life.
Although he praises his grandparents for their efforts in raising him, he admits that he felt "a real longing -- sometimes conscious, sometimes subconscious" for his biological parents, especially since he knew who they were.
"When you're adopted and you know who your biological parents are... it's like, 'Hey, I’m right f*cking here,'" he writes. "It's like you're a used car that got sold and you see your previous owner taking the bus. You’re telling me you’d rather ride in a bus that smells like piss than drive your own son? I’m mixing metaphors here, but I wanted to make sure that my children never felt like an abandoned Volvo."
He explains that his biological father, Darrell Bishop, converted to the Nation of Islam and changed his name to Shahid Abdullah. It's a decision that created a further chasm between him and Jamie, who felt that his father devoted himself more to his religion than to his son.
"I couldn’t fault a man for what he believed the afterlife would be. But while he strove to prepare himself for the afterlife, I wondered why he couldn’t think more about being a father to his son here on earth," he recalls.
Jamie notes that every joyous moment he was able to share with his children made him think about his relationship with his father. "Did he not long for such reunions? Didn’t he yearn to see his child’s love expressed so purely? How could he not feel that little jolt when he came around me and I was just so damn happy to see him," he wondered. "But even though I learned from my dad’s parenting (or lack thereof ), the reverse wasn’t possible. I couldn’t be like Corinne and give my dad a break for trying... because he wasn't trying. It just wasn’t comparable."
He recalls his father teaching him the power of visualization and how to play chess, two lessons he passed on to his daughters. But their relationship remained contentious up until their last moment of speaking after Jamie moved to Los Angeles and worked on The Jamie Foxx Show.
"One day, out of nowhere, he reached out to say that he was coming to Los Angeles. I was so excited. I was already starring in The Jamie Foxx Show and I couldn’t wait to show him my world," he writes. "However, when he got here, he couldn’t care less about show business. Damn, not even a 'Hey, you got a show named after you on TV?! That’s fantastic!' No matter what age you are, you still want some sort of approval from your parents."
When Jamie realized his father hadn't come to Los Angeles to see him -- rather he was in town to see Minister Farrakhan speaking at a nearby mosque -- he was hurt by what he saw as an opportunity to make up for lost time gone. "Let it be known that I didn’t care what religion he was; he could have been Jewish, Baptist, Rastafari, or Seventh Day Adventist for all I cared, I just wanted and needed his time," he says, sharing that he put his father up in a hotel instead of letting him stay with Jamie. "That was the last time my father and I spoke. I wished we could have made a connection. I didn’t wish him any ill will though."
Jamie writes that his stepfather served as a point of connection between him and his father, although Jamie turned down all offers to speak with the other man. Until one day, his stepfather revealed that his father had passed away.
"It came as a shock but I didn’t feel what I thought I would feel, which is disappointment and despair. I ended up not feeling anything," he admits. "The relationship was dead for so long, I had already mourned it many times over. But I did send him a spiritual blessing: I told him I hoped what he was looking for in the spiritual world, he’d find."
"Although there weren’t ill feelings, I chose not to go to his funeral. I don’t know where that leaves me on the moral or spiritual scale. It’s tough to teach my daughters this lesson of forgiveness when there was never a beautiful, emotive reconciliation between me and my dad like at the end of a happy movie. The lesson I have for my daughters is that sometimes you just have to let go of things, of people, of emotions that are weighing you down."
"I can’t always control if I make my daughters mad or not. I’m gonna mess up, embarrass them, God knows what. But I can control that I’ll always be there for them when they get unmad. And on top of chess and visualization, that’s the most important thing my father taught me -- even though he taught it by not doing it," he adds. "So if he is reading this book from the great beyond, my father should know he is still part of the reason I always do my best to be there for my kids."
Corrine once told him she "didn't really like" him during a therapy session.
The actor explains that it hasn't been easy for him to find the balance between being a superstar and being an active parent. The realization hit home during a therapy session with his eldest daughter Corinne.
"When my old-school I’m-your-daddy-and-you’re-the-daughter type of bossy approach failed to connect with Corinne, she suggested we try therapy," he writes. "Like too many dads, I wasn’t listening to her when she tried to talk to me, instead giving her my opinion about what she should be doing. I think my fame also got in the way. I didn’t realize how much she hated the glitz and superficiality of Hollywood. But I soon found out. I guess Corinne was right; we needed some help. I didn’t realize how much she hated what came along with what I do for a living."
Jamie shares how Corinne explained during the therapy session that her father's perspective of her childhood greatly differed from hers. While Jamie saw their trips together and hangouts as fun times, Corinne felt ignored and pushed aside for her father's good time. Recalling a trip they took to Miami, Corinne revealed that her father would go out to hang with his friends late into the night while someone else watched her. "Actually, you went out a lot and somebody else watched me. Where were you, Dad? And you would hang out late and wake up late, so I would miss the beach. We really went there for you, not for me." he recalls her saying.
"And then she looked at the therapist and said, 'I just didn't love my dad that much,'" he remembers. "I think I might have blacked out for a second when I heard that sentence. I was devastated. I started thinking back to all the occasions when I thought I was Super Dad because I was bringing her to all these places. I realized I was just tricking myself, making myself feel good."
"Oh, you’re Super Dad because you took her to Miami. But what probably would have been more valuable was to just have more simple, quiet moments when it was just me and her," he adds. "There was no way to dance around the emotional deficit that I had caused by thinking my financial commitment to her was enough. I was blindsided -- but I was so grateful she told me how she was feeling. I still had time to fix it."
Jamie concedes that although the therapy session wasn't enjoyable for him, he felt Corinne deserved the chance to air out her grievances and "cuss her dad out" because of all the years she'd been considerate. "When I decided that the answer to my money problems was to move from LA to Las Vegas when Corinne was young, I kind of lost sight of what it might do to Corinne," he acknowledges.
He admits that landing the title role on The Jamie Foxx Show was both "a blessing and a curse" in terms of his parenting. Although he could now provide for his family, the job also allowed him to party excessively. But being able to speak with Corinne and refusing to give up on their relationship after hitting a roadblock, made him realize there was still time to fix their relationship.
"The lesson is you have to keep making an effort with your kids: You gotta show up, no matter what. But with other people in your life, sometimes it’s just not worth it. Got no more time for hate," he writes.
Jamie's mother and former step-father currently live in different wings of his house.
As Jamie explains in his book, after his stepfather, George Dixon, was released from prison he invited the older man to move in with him.
"As I had promised him when he was in prison, I was ready to pull him in close," he writes. "I told him, 'Things are going good for me now. I worry about you when you’re out of my sight. I want you to come live with me.' I could tell that his spirit had been broken, but he was looking for another chance and I was more than happy to provide him with that. I wanted to help him make up for those lost years."
He explains that George, whom he calls Pops, was living with him for seven years when his mother came for a holiday visit and just never left.
"It was always a struggle over the years to connect the emotional dots with my mother. Once I had a little Hollywood success and could afford it, I would send her plane tickets every year with the message: If you would ever like to come out and hang with me, I would love to have you," he shares.
"Occasionally she would take me up on it -- but just like in church in Texas, she would blow in, make a quick connection and then abruptly be gone... Then one day, about fourteen years ago, my mother accepted the plane ticket and flew out to hang with us for Christmas. My stepfather had already been living with me for about seven years and I was loving seeing them together, getting along."
Jamie explains that he realized his mother wasn't leaving them by Saint Patrick’s Day and was "overjoyed" when she formally agreed to stay. He writes that although the situation can be tricky at times, even with Pops and his mom living in separate wings of the house, he loves having them with him. "Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I love to always be surrounded by people," he explains.
Despite Mom and Pops being divorced, Jamie shares that they still spend time together and go on dates with one another. According to his stepfather, "We old as a muthaf*cka now, we might as well just enjoy each other’s company. We ain’t fin to be in bed with each other, we might as well have a good time."
It's complicated, but it works for them.
He doesn't see himself as the marrying type.
Jamie reveals in the book that marriage isn't a route he can see himself taking any time soon.
"Because I've had two children without being married to their mothers, the subject of marriage has hovered over my head in one way or another for years," he writes. "Everyone's been asking me about getting married—my daughter's mothers, people in my family, strangers on the street, even Oprah (we'll get to her). I've just never been convinced that marriage was a good idea for me. I've had friends that have great marriages, others not so much. And it never seemed like marriage was necessary to raise my children in a safe and loving atmosphere."
"I just don't think I'm the marrying type," he reflects. "At least not for now—maybe in a few decades when I'm in a wheelchair and need somebody to push me around and change my diaper."
The actor has always been tight-lipped about his relationships, having previously been linked to the likes of Meagan Good and Fantasia Barrino. His most public -- yet still not confirmed-confirmed -- relationship was with Katie Holmes, whom Jamie was with for six super-private years. The two denied their romance whenever asked, but were pictured together several times over the years, including an extremely rare instance of PDA back in September 2017 when the super-secretive pair were spotted holding hands and smiling like love birds while dipping their toes in the warm waters of Malibu, California. They went their separate ways, according to multiple reports, in May 2019.
Act Like You Got Some Sense by Jamie Foxx is out now.
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