Oprah: Wearing her gloves. You know what I was so happy about? I was happy that your daughter wasn't 5 or 7, but 11. She will remember that evening for the rest of her life.
Jamie: It was fabulous. I look for every opportunity to strengthen my bond with my daughter. As a father working in Hollywood, I know there will be many times when I have to be away from her. We video chat all the time.
Oprah: What's your responsibility as a father?
Jamie: Connecting with my daughter is the most important thing in my life—the priority. I want to be a man who shows up for her. I want to have such a big influence on her, so that she knows she can call me about anything, which she does. "Daddy, the dog is dying—can you do something?" "It's not gonna die," I told her.
When my daughter was 6, her mom and I were having some challenges, and at that point, it would've been so easy for me to say "Forget this. I'm Jamie Foxx. I don't care what you do. I'll just send the check." But instead of pulling back, I moved toward my daughter.
Oprah: What made you do that when you didn't have a role model for it in your own life?
Jamie: I did have a role model. Although my parents weren't around, my grandparents adopted me when I was 7 months old. I was never short on the love of a mother and father, though it came from an earlier generation of family.
Oprah: I have a friend whose parents gave him up to his grandmother when he was a baby. His mother lived in the next town over, and every Christmas and before every school play, he was always hoping she'd show up. Did you feel that way?
Jamie: I wanted my mom to show up, but for a different reason: She was so fly and good-looking. We were country [Jamie mimics a country-western fiddle], but my mom was straight city. She had the new hair, the gold earrings, the Sting Ray Corvette.
Oprah: How did your father's absence affect you?
Jamie: Again, I was puzzled. Why couldn't he drive 28 miles to check on a son who passed a football more than 1,000 yards? I think some of his absence has to do with his being a Muslim. He drew a line in the sand: "I'm a Muslim, and since you're not, I can't be your father." During our last conversation, which was after my grandmother passed, I said, "Listen, I understand observing your religion, but is that worth missing out on your son's life?"
Oprah: What was your relationship like before that conversation? Was he completely out of your life?
Jamie: Yes, and he's not in my life presently. It's not necessary.
Oprah: Even though you had your grandparents, did not having your father leave you with a hole?
Jamie: No. I don't really even know what my biological father is like. I don't know what his favorite food is. I don't know his quirks. Same with my mother. But I know that the two people who raised me cared deeply for me.
Oprah: And you honestly never missed your parents?
Jamie: Well, maybe I missed my mother a little.
Oprah: Is she still alive?
Jamie: Yes. We don't talk.
Oprah: Your sister lived with your mom. Did you ever wonder why she took your sister but not you?
Jamie: Not at all. Because I'm older than my sister, it's not like she chose to keep one and not the other at the same time.
We Hear You!