Foxx is a Force as Singer, Actor and Comic
Jamie Foxx does a mean impression of President Obama.
"If there's any doubt that America is not the most incredible country in the world," he says, delivering a caricature of the politician. "And look, it's gonna be tough, but we can make it."
Satisfied that he has entertained his interviewer, he breaks character and laughs, explaining how Obama's inauguration served as a casting call of sorts for his popular music video. "So we're at the inauguration and I look over at Ron Howard, and I asked him would he do a music video — and he had no idea what it was for — and he said yes. Then I went to Forest Whitaker and said, 'Well, Ron said he would do it.'
So then Samuel L. Jackson and everyone else just fell through," he says with a laugh. "Ron Howard thought it was some 'We Are the World' video."
Quite the contrary. "Blame It" encourages listeners to chalk up bad decisions to an overindulgence of alcohol. The song is No. 7 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart and has sold more than 1 million downloads.
Foxx, 41, is one of the few people who could have pulled that diverse group together and have them party side by side. That's Foxx's appeal: He can deliver award-worthy scenes with Hollywood's best, but he also can shake his rump next to today's hottest rappers and still come out garnering respect from both camps.
"It's an interesting thing to be in this world. I mean, I feel comfortable being the black star, like being hood-grounded," Foxx says. "But my grandmother taught me that you're going to have to go on the other side of the tracks. So that's been my life: going on the other side of the tracks and talking to people who may not know much about you and bridging those gaps."
He'll combine all of his artistic passions — acting, singing and making people laugh — on Sunday when he hosts the "BET Awards" (8 p.m. ET/PT), and he will begin a 30-city music tour a week later. Foxx is well-respected in film circles (he stashes his best-actor Oscar for Ray at his business partner's house to always keep him hungry and humble), but that's not what's taking center stage for him right now.
"I always say to myself, 'I'll never be Prince.' Prince is so cool because he remains mysterious and his music remains brilliant. Every time you see him, you go, 'Wow, it must be cool to be a rock star.' What we do with movies and television and comedy is you have to sell yourself constantly. Sometimes that wears on you. Music gives you a chance to be quiet if you want. You can just let the song play and let people sing to it. It doesn't require the antics."
But Foxx's weekly Sirius satellite radio show, "The Foxhole," is full of shenanigans. Foxx views the show as a way for him and his celebrity pals to speak directly to the people.
"No one wants to hang out in Hollywood anymore, because it's tough to protect your persona," Foxx says, speaking of the TV tabloid world that watches over celebrities. "And that culture hurts the industry because if someone starts to shape your favorite star in a different way, then you may not want to go see their movies."
He points to the entertainment media's portrayal of Tom Cruise. "I tried to explain to (Tom), I said, 'Look, when people that don't seem to have their life fulfilled look at you, and you're happy and it looks like you have all the money and all the women, that will subliminally spark some hate.' My radio show isn't for the faint of heart, but people are able to go on and set records straight."
As for the awards this weekend, Foxx says viewers can expect over-the-top comedy.
"Oh, I already got the monologue written, and it's crazy," he says. "It's going to go back to Def Comedy Jam time. We'll get in trouble a little bit, but it'll be fun trouble. It'll be the first BET Awards with an African-American president, so we'll have some great presidential jokes about what they really did that night. It'll be a whole lot of fun."