Jamie Foxx, who generated a huge buzz for his amazing star turn in the Ray Charles biopic, Ray, got his start on In Living Color in 1991. Since his work on that influential sketch-comedy show, Foxx made the jump to the big time with screen-stealing roles in 1999's Any Given Sunday, 2001's Ali, and earlier this year in Collateral, starring opposite Tom Cruise.
"I have to say that I'm the supporting actor and that Ray Charles is really the lead actor," Jamie says, "because his life was so compelling. It's such a pleasant surprise, because [when you think of Ray,] you think 'America the Beautiful', or 'You Got the Right One, Baby.' Then you see all of these beautiful stories, some wicked stories dealing with his life, and then you see how he bursts into this beautiful music. I think that Ray Charles was the first Internet connection, meaning that his music connects everybody, no matter what color, no matter what creed."
Jamie was highly committed to portraying the blind Charles as accurately as possible. He wore a prosthesis over his eyes that rendered him blind for 12 to 14 hours a day. "Even at lunch I couldn't see, which was tough. One day, they go, 'And that's lunch.' And everybody takes off," and Jamie would be left on the set.
This experience of blindness, however, gave Jamie a window into how Ray Charles experienced the world. "My hearing got better," Jamie says. "I played the piano, but without sight, you fully feel the music stroke you. We interpret things in front of us. If we know there's sunlight up here we prepare our bodies. But if you're blind, the sunlight strokes you. So the music was stroking me."
Keenen Ivory Wayans, the creator of In Living Color, sent a message of congratulations for Jamie.
"Hi, Oprah! The first time I saw Jamie, I knew that he was going to be the next big thing. I saw him doing his standup, oh, I'd say about 10 years ago. And, eventually, I hired Jamie on In Living Color. I just saw the Ray Charles story, and this guy has focused and this guy has given 100 percent. His performance is unbelievable. Not a false moment. Not a break in character. In the first 15 seconds of the movie, you are no longer thinking Jamie Foxx. It's Ray Charles. Jamie, I'm proud of you, buddy," says Keenan. "You did your thing."
Much of the buzz surrounding Ray
centers on Jamie's chances at an Oscar® nomination. Jamie says that even this talk has opened doors: "I was in Italy, and Denzel Washington called me in his room. 'Yo, it's D. Get down here.' And I go down, and Denzel said, 'Yeah, I have some things to tell you. I don't want to put nothing on you, but I've been hearing you've got a chance.' As I'm talking to Denzel, I hear, 'Jamie Foxx.' And it was Al Pacino. And he's, like, 'Oh, come here, you. Come here.' And he's talking about it, too. And they're both giving the same advice: Do not get caught up in it; welcome it, but keep doing your art."
Jamie says it is an honor even to be considered for a nomination for an Oscar®. "To get advice from those guys, whether it happens or it doesn't happen, you get to go through that secret door."
He did it! Jamie celebrates his big win with Oprah!
Music producer David Foster is known for being a "star maker" and he thinks that Renee Olstead is going to be the next big thing in music. "Not since I saw Céline Dion in a tent 18 years ago have I felt this way about anybody," David says. And he should know. In addition to his extensive work with Céline Dion, he's the songwriter/producer behind such huge stars as Whitney Houston, Cher, Barbra Streisand, Michael Bolton and Josh Groban.
Renee, who is just 15 years old and also co-stars on the CBS comedy Still Standing, performed the Louis Armstrong classic, "What a Wonderful World."
Oprah's personal choice for the next big thing is Joshua Nelson, a young gospel singer she heard while visiting her mother's church in Milwaukee, WI. Joshua says that Mahalia Jackson is huge influence, and he has been singing gospel music since he was 8 years old.
He performed "How I Got Over" on the show.