Jamie Foxx

"I've been doing comedy and acting for 15 years, but all of a sudden people keep telling me I've 'arrived'," says Jamie Foxx, reflecting on the whirlwind success 2004 has brought. "It's taken me 15 years to 'arrive'."

But with an Academy Award for best actor now on his mantle piece, it would be fair to say the inimitable Mr Foxx has moved into a bigger league.

Jamie was born Eric Morlon Bishop on December 13, 1967, in the small railroad town of Terrel in Texas. He was only seven months old when his parents' marriage failed and his grandparents, Mark and Esther Talley, stepped in to adopt him. Though his grandparents weren"t affluent, they made sure the youngster was provided with many opportunities, such as joining a local scouts group, piano lessons and sporting activities.

Jamie's first love was music and he won a scholarship to study classical piano at university in San Diego. He soon dropped out of college, however, to try and break into show business. Although he had planned on a career as a recording artist, all that changed in 1989 when a girlfriend dared him to take to the stage on an open mike night at an LA comedy club.

The young Texan, who had long been a fan of Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor, proved naturally confident on stage, wowing audiences with his hilarious impressions of Eighties icons Ronald Reagan, Bill Cosby and, ironically, Ray Charles.

He cut his teeth on the tough LA club circuit by night while holding down various day jobs including selling shoes. Around this time the budding comedian adopted the stage name Jamie Foxx a tribute to black TV icon Redd Foxx. The choice of an androgynous moniker was deliberate, as he'd noticed that female comics tended to get preference for mike time on open-stage nights.

After being spotted by a cast member from the American comedy series In Living Color, which helped launched the careers of Jim Carrey and Jennifer Lopez among others, Jamie was offered a slot on the show. The hilarious characters and outrageous routines he delivered led to a five-year run in his own hit series The Jamie Foxx Show as well as comic roles on the big screen. He also headed up a series of stand-up specials, featuring guests ranging from OJ Simpson to J Lo.

While Jamie's comic exploits kept him busy, he was keen to tackle more serious roles on the big screen. Capitalising on his athletic prowess he was given a chance to prove himself as a dramatic actor when he landed a role as hot-shot quarterback Willie Beaman in Any Given Sunday. His performance garnered much critical acclaim and led to offers for other dramatic roles including a supporting stint opposite Will Smith as Mohammed Ali's feisty trainer Drew Bundini Brown in Ali.

It was to be 2004 which established Jamie as one of Hollywood's leading dramatic players, however. That year he delivered a hat-trick of highly thought of movies including Ray, Redemption and Collateral. He also became the first person to be nominated for Golden Globes in three separate roles in the same year, as well as joining an elite group of actors to be tipped both as best actor (Ray) and best supporting actor (Collateral).

Between films Jamie still does stand-up comedy and enjoys playing music. He released an R&B flavoured album in 1994 called Peep This that rose to number 12 in the US charts, wrote the theme song from Any Given Sunday and recently enjoyed success collaborating with rappers Kanye West and Twista on the smash hit single, Slow Jamz. He also had a follow-up album in the pipeline.

While his energy and Southern charm have made him a success with the fairer sex, it is Jamie's daughter Corrine who continues to be most important female presence in his life. The youngster lives with her mum just up the road from Jamie's LA home and is frequently spotted on Jamie's arm at award shows.

"I'm most proud of my relationship with my daughter because the things I get from her are real," he says, adding that were he ever asked to give up his career for his daughter, he would do so "in a minute".
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