Jamie Foxx, featured in the May 2014 issue of SUCCESS, is canvassing the globe to promote his two most recent films, Rio 2 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. An entertainer with a relentless work ethic instilled by his no-nonsense grandmother, he stays busy when on the set and off, whether he’s working to drum up attention for his films or donating his time to worthy causes, including Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Trayvon Martin Foundation. (To read the cover story, subscribe for instant access.)
Foxx has seamlessly transitioned to middle age, and now at age 46 he’s beginning to take on more and more roles of power. Where once he fit the on-screen profile of a dynamic young football player in Any Given Sunday or an enlisted man in Jarhead, he can now be cast, believably, in the board room or the decision room.
Last summer Foxx played the President of the United States in White House Down, and later this year he’ll star as one of the wealthiest men in the world in Annie, a modernized take on the classic comic strip Little Orphan Annie. Foxx will play an updated Daddy Warbucks while starring alongside 10-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis and Cameron Diaz. The film is expected to be released late in 2014.
When Foxx was interviewed for his SUCCESS cover story, he was considered the favorite to play Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in an Oliver Stone biopic about the beloved civil rights leader, but plans for the film have since been scuttled. Raised in once self-segregated Terrell, Texas, Foxx said he considered it an honor just to be in the running to play King.
“Listening to Martin Luther King, and what he did, the type of world he wanted us to live in—I’m not saying I’m MLK—but I grew up like that,” Foxx told SUCCESS. “I never really looked at race, what color people are walking down the street. And that’s a good thing to be blessed with.”
Foxx believes that perhaps the greatest role of his life may not be on screen, but working as an advocate to help foster continued racial reconciliation in America.
“I got a chance to meet Trayvon Martin’s mom [Sybrina Fulton],” Foxx said. “And she whispered to me, ‘It’s not about my son being black. It’s about my son being killed. A lot of people have taken this and used it for their own agenda.’ So talking to Harry Belafonte, he says, ‘That’s what you should do. You can be the person who is eloquent and steer the conversation away from the left and the right.’ The conversation is about children.
“I’m 46, and I’m making money, and I’m this and I’m that,” Foxx continued. “But [Belafonte] says to me, ‘OK, but what are you doing? What are you giving back?’ That’s the thing, a whole new ball game to me now.”
Josh Ellis is the former editor in chief for SUCCESS magazine. Before joining SUCCESS in 2012, he was an accomplished digital and print sportswriter, working for the Dallas Cowboys Star magazine, the team’s gameday program, and DallasCowboys.com. Originally from Longview, Texas, he began writing for his hometown newspaper at 16.