Jamie Foxx could've lost it all if it weren't for Oprah Winfrey. The actor revealed how Winfrey set him straight over a decade ago on Howard Stern's SiriusXM show this week. Foxx was in the running for Best Actor for his turn as iconic musician Ray Charles in 2004's Ray. The 49-year-old remembers riding high and partying hard — until he got a call from Winfrey, who saw him spinning out of control and risking his career.
"I'm having such a good time, and I'm not knowing I'm fucking up. I mean, I'm drinking, I'm doing every fucking think you could possibly imagine," Foxx told Stern. And then he gets the call that he says changed his life. "'Hi Jamie Foxx... This is Oprah. You're blowing it, Jamie Foxx. You're blowing it.'" He continued, "She says, 'All of this gallivanting and all this kind of shit, that's not what you want to do. [She says] 'I want to take you somewhere. I want to make you understand the significance of what you're doing.'"
That place was music mogul Quincy Jones' house. "He says, 'Hey man. Listen man, you're doing good, man, We just don't want you to blow it, baby.' So we go in the house, and there's all these old actors, Black actors from the '60s and the '70s who look like they just wanna say good luck. They wanna say, 'Don't blow it.'" When Stern commented, "Wow, it's almost like an intervention," Foxx confessed, "I was going hard, I'm not playing."
But Winfrey's work doesn't done. Foxx realized that the gathering he was at was Sidney Poitier, the first Black person to win the Best Actor Oscar (for 1963's Lilies of the Field). Foxx remembers every detail of his encounter with the pioneering actor. "He says, 'I want to give you one thing. I want to give you responsibility. When I saw your performance [in Ray], it made me grow two inches.' So, I break down, everybody sits me down." He continued, "They made me understand the significance it it. Because they said, 'Sidney did it, and it was... groundbreaking, and it was a character that we could all embrace. Ray Charles is also a character that we can embrace."
Winfrey, Poitier, and the other people Foxx spoke to that day scared the actor straight, in other words, by helping him realize that his life and his career were part of something bigger than himself: Black cinematic history. "To this day, it’s the most significant time in my life," Foxx said. Of course, Foxx would go on to win the Oscar for Ray, becoming only the third African-American actor to do so. (Denzel took the second ever home in 2001 for Training Day.) Bet he made his friend and guardian angel Oprah Winfrey proud.