Jamie Foxx on Being a Feminist Dad Raising Daughters in 'Different Times'
When you think of modern feminists, think of Jamie Foxx. The actor and father of two says he never wants his daughters to second-guess what they're capable of achieving.
"I got to be able to tell my daughters you supposed to have everything that you want," he says. "Do not tuck anything in."
In his new book, Act Like You Got Some Sense, Foxx writes not about what he taught his daughters but what his daughters taught him. In one chapter, he explains how his now 13-year-old daughter Anelise pointed out song lyrics that were degrading to women. For Foxx, it was a lesson in just how desensitized society can be to the suffering of women.
"Look at what [women] are up against right now," he says in an interview with Parents.com. "When I look into my little daughters' eyes, my youngest and my oldest, I say, 'Hey, I want you to be able to have the opportunity to have everything, and you can be president. You can do all of these different things.' And if you don't have men standing with their daughters, it gets tough out there."
Foxx, who was raised by adoptive parents he calls his grandparents, takes his role as father as the most serious role of his life. He knows what it's like to feel abandoned by parents. "I don't want any emotional potholes for my kids, and I don't want them ever wondering, 'Can I have this?'" As far as he's concerned, his daughters can, and should, take it all. The encouragement seems to be working.
Anelise Bishop, his youngest, is already part of the Writers Guild, having written an anime script at the age of 11. His oldest daughter, Corinne Foxx, 27, has a couple of movie and TV credits to her name and a recurring acting role in the upcoming season of Hulu's hit original comedy Dollface. They are both on to big things in line with the legacy Foxx hopes to pass down to them—one of art, entrepreneurship, and of "never having been denied," he says . "When it's time to sit on the sideline, I can sit back and watch them do their thing in the biz, and I've been able to, I think, teach them early."
As for the lessons his daughters have taught him, authentically showing up for the people he loves is near the top of the list. Early on, Foxx says he was the "Disneyland dad," who sometimes wasn't there when he needed to be but would later show up hoping a trip full of fun, food, and shopping would make up for it.
"I learned with my oldest daughter that that was a mistake," he says. There was a silver lining, though. Many of those parenting mistakes landed Foxx and his oldest daughter, Corinne, in family therapy. At first, he wasn't convinced. "You know don't no dang Black folks go to no therapist," he told his daughter. She insisted, and so he went. He found himself talking and talking until the therapist asked him to stop and listen to what Corinne had to say. The four words she said next changed his parenting perspective for good: "I didn't like you," he recalls his daughter saying.
He says she told him the person he was to everyone else was not what she needed. "Show up. Be there when you say you're going to be there," he recalls. That was the moment that gave him the opportunity to truly start bonding with his girls and be the father they needed. Writing Act Like You Got Some Sense was his way of changing the narrative surrounding what it means to be a father, especially a Black father to daughters.
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"I could break down some of those doors that guys have when they feel like the mother is in first place because it is a daughter," he says , encouraging fathers to "talk about uncomfortable things early."
It's all a balancing act that includes remembering the parenting methods and relationships that seemed to work generations earlier don't necessarily translate to present-day parenting. "Different times," says Foxx . Times when parents reminded children they're not "their little friends," but in many ways, times have changed.
"They came from a different place, and I appreciate that, but then when I got my own kids, I realized I didn't have to use these words," he says. Instead, he plays two roles at once: friend and father. Jamie Foxx the friend makes sure his daughters are comfortable enough to open up to him. He allows them space to have a voice. Jamie Foxx the father establishes boundaries. He calls himself the sheriff. "We ain't gone be doing all that!" he'll say.
"You have to have a little bit of both," he says. In fact, his book is full of moments where he hints at old-school Black cultural parenting norms and sayings that have resonated with his children. It's humorous, but tough. It's a toughness that Black parents have historically leaned on out of necessity. Foxx creates a new lane while paying homage to those old-school parenting techniques and parents that are so much a part of Black culture. He just does fatherhood a bit differently.
"It doesn't mean that our parents didn't have it right," says Foxx. "They had it right at the time, but now things are changing."