Oprah and Jamie Foxx
First I heard the pre-Oscar hullabaloo about Jamie Foxx: He'd portrayed legendary singer Ray Charles so convincingly that critics called him a shoo-in for the Academy Award. Next I became anxious for Jamie. I knew those very predictions might invite a force to rise up and block a victory. Yet I also knew about a woman named Estelle—the extraordinary grandmother who raised Jamie in Terrell, Texas. When Jamie lost his 95-year-old grandmother to Alzheimer's in October 2004, I said to my friend Gayle, "We've got this one." Because here's what I believe: When you lose someone who has loved you, part of that person's spirit and energy is left with you—so you can become more powerful than you've ever been. I was convinced that nothing could overcome Estelle's energy, but there was a moment as the names were being called out on Oscar night when I thought, "Are you with us, Estelle?" She was. Four months after her death, Jamie stood on a stage before millions and received his award in honor of Estelle's strength, courage, and care.

Estelle would be proud of the man who sat across from me at the Setai hotel in Miami this fall. We met up in the sprawling 10,000-square-foot penthouse, with its view of the skyline and the sea. (Jamie was filming Miami Vice , which had brought him to Florida.) Between us, no subject was off-limits—whether it was fatherhood, race, or the years before he adopted his now-famous stage name and was still Eric Bishop, a church musician. Today Jamie is a 37-year-old dad to an 11-year-old, a bachelor who's not exactly looking—and a man who couldn't be clearer about his mission.

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Note: This interview appeared in the December 2005 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.