Jamie Foxx On Being Black In Hollywood & Consulting w/ Tyler Perry & Spike Lee About 'Django'

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by Courtney
December 15, 2012 10:27 AM
33 Comments
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A segment of an interview Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington and Leonardo DiCaprio did with Vibe magazine, about Django Unchained, that I thought was worth sharing on a usually dead Saturday morning...

JAMIE FOXX: Put it this way: I completely understand what you're saying. 'Cause as black folks we're always sensitive. As a black person it's always racial. I come into this place to do a photo shoot and they got Ritz crackers and cheese. I'll be like, ain't this a bitch. Y'all didn't know black people was coming. What's with all this white shit? By the same token, if there is fried chicken and watermelon I'll say ain't this a bitch? So, no matter what we do as black people it's always gonna be that. Every single thing in my life is built around race. I don't necessarily speak it because you can't. But the minute I leave my house, I gotta put my other jacket on and say, ‘‘Hey, Thomas, Julian and Greg.” And I gotta be a certain person.

DICAPRIO: Thomas, Julian and Greg?

VIBE: Those are white people.

FOXX: No some of those people are black. But when I get home my other homies are like how was your day? Well, I only had to be white for at least eight hours today, [or] I only had to be white for four hours. Everything we do is that. When you're talking about the script, of course it's going to be controversy. I remember talking to Tyler Perry about it. [In Perry's very serious voice] ‘‘Ah man, the script, man. Have you read it?” When I finally read it, I called Tyler and we had a conversation. I said, ‘‘I got a different take on it than you did.” And we shared. And I called Tyler while we were shooting it. I said, ‘‘Do you know that Quentin Tarantino knows all of your shit on TV. I don't even watch all of your shit.” He said, ‘‘Really?” The difference is the Quentin Tarantino Effect. I ran into Spike Lee at the BET Awards. You know Spike, he'll let you have it whether it's good, bad or ugly. And he said, ‘‘I'm not going to say anything bad about this film. It looks like y'all are getting it.

So, first of all, yup, I suppose we could just say that double consciousness prevails. You'll find black folks, no matter what socio-economic level you're on, saying similar things about having to put on a different face in the professional (read: white man's) world than you wear when you're around your people (some of your people anyway). But one thing I often wonder when I read or hear about how different we are across racial lines, is if we're actually increasing the divide, and polarizing the climate when it comes to issues of identity, with what are in effect generalizations about groups of people.

I eat Ritz crackers and cheese, and I hate fried anything, so I most definitely don't eat fried chicken; but I will drink a smoothie with watermelon as one of the ingredients. Oh, and I'm not much of a dancer either, nor am I a fast runner; but I do love old school hip-hop, however on some days I'll relax to some Tchaikovsky.

Not to diminish the fact that once I walk out my door today, the world around me will constantly make sure that I remember that I'm black - something I'm already very well aware of, mind you. I just wonder if maybe we sometimes assume a burden, as Jamie Foxx suggests, that really isn't there. And no, the burden I'm talking about isn't *blackness*, but instead the burden which seems to dictate that we routinely react to the world around us in a racial context, even when there may not any.

Am I making sense?

Secondly, I didn't know that Jamie Foxx and Tyler Perry were that close, that he'd actually call Tyler up for his input on a script, or a role. That's interesting. And from what he said about Tyler's reaction to the script, it appears that (at least I think we can infer that) Tyler wasn't too pleased with it. And also interesting is that it seems like Spike Lee gave his approval, which I thought was kind of surprising. I would've thought that, between the two, Tyler would've given his blessing, and Spike wouldn't have been too pleased with it.

The rest of the interview can be read HERE.

And, by the way, both Tambay and Sergio have seen and reviewed Django Unchained - read Sergio's positive review HERE; and read Tambay's less enthusiastic and more critical review HERE.

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33 Comments

  • John | June 21, 2013 11:43 PMReply

    Poor Jamie...How can he "act white" for 8 hours and collect his millions?? I feel terrible for him. Gosh, he actually has to work for a living while collecting his millions. Clear proof that there's racism in America. I hope he can curl up with his millions of dollars and feel ok about "acting white" for a few hours. Stay strong Jamie!! What a f'n idiot...and so is the author. Everyone has to hustle to be successful these days. It's hard to feel empathetic with a guy pulling in millions when he show's up to a place that caters to him.

  • jeanettesdaughter | December 19, 2012 5:20 PMReply

    well, i think what jamie foxx is talking about and using quite good examples, is something called "the white gaze." okay, you either get this or you do not. i get it. jamie gets it: it's not about the crackers (ritz) that is, and it's not about the watermelon; it is about adjusting your public self to the critical eyes of those who are watching. there is a critical black gaze, too! someone is always watching, always critiquing especially if you are black (or any kind of non white anglo saxon protestant configuration of all the possible human features) in settings usually occupied by other white people. okay guys: it's like with women and the male gaze. we adjust because you are looking, and even if we are not inclined towards you (as in not interested in dating you), as women the male gaze of approval/disapproval can mean the difference between a job/no job, housing/no housing, something for my child/nothing for my child, violence/non violence, and so on. it's complicated but in fact, it could be fatal to ignore the gaze of the person you think is calling the shots. it is as my granny explained to me, a question of power. she said, we watch the whites carefully for their responses because we have had to: our lives, our paychecks, our housing, our education, our health care -- so many things have depended on that. many people still take their cues from 'the people in first class.' these days, i make it a point to eat watermelon (sometimes with a knife and fork) when i am out in mixed race settings. just to have fun and keep everybody alert. at the same time, i love to flip the script. true story: once i was riding through the hood in atlanta taking a short cut off the main drags. it was christmas time and i love, love love the nutcracker which was playing on the classical station i listen to from time to time because it carries npr. i turned it up -- way up -- and was having a fine old time, me and my radio. pulled up to the bus stop crowded with black people. a guy turns around, just a guy and yells out : tchaikovsky right! it is important to be conscious of what you are doing and who you are being, and open to any human experience. i suspect that actors are very good at this. i suspect that others have a difficult time letting go of their preconceptions about "others." i really appreciate jamie foxx's comments on the subject. he is honest about his experiences and feelings. many people are dishonest or in denial about what race and color still mean to us where (and how) we live.

  • Tori | December 19, 2012 7:38 AMReply

    There are about 3,427 reasons that I think that is the dumbest thing to come out of anyone's mouth but putting all of that aside, what is the deal with Ritz crackers? Do black people traditionally not like Ritz crackers? Why would he want someone to feed him fried chicken and watermelon? THAT would be just downright offensive. But really? I thought everyone liked Ritz crackers. Anyway, if someone is being gracious and serving food, maybe he should just not eat any if he doesn't care for any. Why make fun of what people are offering you? He sounds like a downright miserable person. (Ok...Sorry...Rant is over now...Stepping down from soap box)

  • BURP | December 18, 2012 11:30 AMReply

    The Burden is always there weather you choose to accept it or not. Your a star Jamie and people look up to you ..Black people of that matter. Your actions dictate how your viewed..like it or not.

  • BURP | December 18, 2012 11:25 AMReply

    I just wonder if maybe we sometimes assume a burden, as Jamie Foxx suggests, that really isn't there. And no, the burden I'm talking about isn't *blackness*, but instead the burden which seems to dictate that we routinely react to the world around us in a racial context, even when there may not any. thats deep bro.... sometimes its hard to decipher how to play the game under these circumstances. I sometimes think it is a matter of acculturation as to how one is raised. That determines your perspective for the most part ...you perspective shapes your reaction to these circumstances. Like its hard for one to decipher if racial coding is used to throw masked insults at minorities under these circumstances. If QT came to me and said what up my nigga or worst yet you a crazy nigga. I might be forced to pimp slap a MoFo but enough about that. When we begin to mask or pretend that those things don't matter or we have evolved to this silly concept of a post racial society because we have a black president then we are only fooling ourselves. Jamie Fox is fooling himself and needs to realize that no matter what they still view you as a nigger. Maybe Will Smith stood up to it and was like nah I got too may stacks in the bank and respect for myself to play this game. Jamie on the other hand...well...if you don't stand for something you will fall for anything

  • getthesenets | December 17, 2012 1:46 PMReply

    S&A should give a full disclosure about whether or not they have received some type of payment from the production company of "Django Unchained" to promote the movie. Inordinate amount of coverage .

  • Yalanda at DryerBuzz.com | December 17, 2012 12:44 PMReply

    We call it masking. As I watch Kerry Washington in more interviews and how she diverts the question about being a black female actress with great but limited opportunities, I'm convince that she had resolved to masking. Now that Jamie explains his own masking, I'm more convinced it's something people have to do.

  • TAZ | December 17, 2012 12:55 AMReply

    The author Courtney asks, "Am I making sense?" My answer is no. The fact that someone do not eat anything fried, drink a smoothie with watermelon in it, and like classical music has nothing to do with the subject at hand. It is a burden for everyone who has to work for a living to ensure that at the end of the day, they have created positive relationships, i.e. got along with the boss, boss's boss, etc.) so that they are still employed at the end of said day. AND if you work in a profession where you believe you work with progressive people that only cares about the color of greenbacks, then bravo to you. However, some people are keenly aware that they are not in the same situation, some people grew up differently.....due to generation, location, etc., and they do what they must to keep their job. This just one nuance in the complex and complicated topic that was not addressed. And so, I find the article to be one note and therefore IMO, neither Indiewire, Shadow & Act, or the author of this piece, is qualified to start or handle a discussion on race. I would go so far to say that this article helps perpetuate a divide, but not the one Author Courtney alludes to and many commentors are piggybacking on. Secondly, everyone has a 'double consciousness.' Reading these ridiculous comments, you would have everyone think that the way you act with your friends, family at home, at a concert or what have you is EXACTLY the way you act when you are at work. GTHOH. Third. If you are not one note........if your persona, way of thinking, how you feel, etc. etc. etc. is not the same, then get off of the damn TP tip. I don't care if it is TP or QT, or Spike Lee or Ang Lee, or Scorsese or anyone else, but to devalue a human based on that is simply mind numbing. It is asinine to think or assume that because you deem a movie coonery, if you even really know what that means, you now know all there is to know about the creator. I don't like Adam Sandler or Ben Stiller movies, I think they are silly and not funny. But I don't demean them or belittle their character because I don't like their films. They are people outside of their movies. And to be honest, it really says more about YOU and the type person YOU are and it diminishes the type of professional YOU are for doing it every single time you hear the name. So for those of you who can't understand the difference I am speaking of, then maybe the name calling should be reversed and YOU then are the dummies, idiots, f'ing morons, segregated, backwards, highly overrated, derivative.....unfortunate silly folks that you are. Welcome to the divide that YOU eagerly participate (thanks to social media) in every time you submit hateful comments and irresponsible articles.

  • Donella | December 16, 2012 3:16 PMReply

    "...Cause as black folks we're always sensitive. As a black person it's always racial..." This unfortunate dummy is not qualified to speak for anyone other than himself.

  • Donella | December 17, 2012 9:37 PM

    And I've been meaning to mention this, but that photo of Foxx is not attractive. It's turning me off the movie even more.

  • Val | December 15, 2012 10:43 PMReply

    Sounds to me like Jamie is trying to cover his azz from the inevitable backlash to this film by getting okays from Tyler Perry and Spike.

  • Other Chris | December 15, 2012 8:47 PMReply

    Foxx is a fucking moron. You toning it down in public as to not alienate other people isn't "acting white", it's being considerate. Be happy with the crackers and cheese, idiot.

    Christine is correct: segregated, backwards thinking like his only increases the divide between all peoples.

  • Other Chris | December 17, 2012 7:50 PM

    "All in the Kool-aid and don't know the flavor." Care to explain that one to me, as you're apparently enlightened to something I'm not?

  • TAZ | December 17, 2012 12:58 AM

    You, especially, have no idea what Jamie is talking about. All in the Kool-aid and don't know the flavor. Shut it down.

  • Agent K | December 15, 2012 9:02 PM

    @Other Chris Why does he have to be an idiot?

  • Other Chris | December 15, 2012 8:48 PM

    Whoops, I meant that Courtney is correct. I don't know where Christine came from.

  • Nik | December 15, 2012 7:59 PMReply

    Why would anyone want Tyler Perry's opinion on anything?

  • Because | December 16, 2012 9:27 AM

    Because he could wipe his ass with 100 dollar bills for the rest of his life and still have $50 million more than you

  • B | December 15, 2012 6:59 PMReply

    Um......
    I don't think Jamie's battery is not fully charged.

  • Kazeem | December 15, 2012 6:41 PMReply

    Tyler Perry? The "genius" that created Madea and other BS, who serve only one purpose: to make this wold dumber. And Spike Lee (ONE good movie)? Foxx needs their blessing? Hell, these morons probably thought that even Tarantino would care what they have to say.

  • Justin W | December 15, 2012 4:13 PMReply

    I didn't read Spike's comment as him giving his blessing to the film. I read it as him not liking it but not saying anything negative to Jamie's face.

  • Justin W | December 15, 2012 4:29 PM

    *not be looking forward to*

  • Justin W | December 15, 2012 4:14 PM

    To add, I'm definitely sure that Django Unchained is a film that a person like Spike Lee would be looking forward to.

  • tyrone tackett | December 15, 2012 4:09 PMReply

    "a dead Saturday morning..." carries much irony at the moment in light of the CT tragedy.

  • Other Chris | December 15, 2012 8:49 PM

    Extremely poor choice of words. They got any editors around here...?

  • KO | December 15, 2012 2:45 PMReply

    We were "The Mask."

  • ALM | December 15, 2012 1:51 PMReply

    By far the most interesting piece of this interview is the portion that infers that Tyler Perry did NOT care for the original Django script. Considering many of the articles on TP on this site, what are the odds that Tyler was on the same page as the majority of the contributors to this site who saw the original script? The apocalypse is nigh.....LOL

  • Monique a Williams | December 15, 2012 1:27 PMReply

    I wonder how exactly Jamie Foxx is acting when he's being white. And if interacting business like is white, what is black? Perhaps he should take a look at that and he won't feel like people see him as a side show monkey all the time.

  • Dr. Boogie | December 15, 2012 11:52 AMReply

    You are making sense, however, America will answer your question every time. She's consistent with her stereotypes and racism like that (See Retta Sirleaf's recent interview on Conan for quick reference).

    How Black people chose to defend, protect, and/or insulate themselves from this reality of inconvenience is a part of their right to exist in a society and state where their humanity, citizenship, and freedoms are constantly contested from macro to the day-to-day micro-levels.

    And forget about white people for a minute. We do it to ourselves. How is it sooo shocking that Tyler and Jamie can be cool like that? They have more in common with each other than with Spike Lee. Time for a intra-racial shade check, perhaps?


    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=4585480189425&set=vb.1064610006&type=2&theater

  • No | December 15, 2012 11:24 AMReply

    While I think that Tarantino is a highly over rated and much derivative filmmaker, he is much more original and creative than Tyler Perry. I would watch any QT film than a Perry one any time or any day.

  • Really | December 16, 2012 9:30 AM

    There is nothing original about Tarantino's films...they're just live action cartoons with lots
    of cursing and posturing...very tired stuff.

  • FilmGuy | December 15, 2012 11:20 AMReply

    Tyler Perry cosigned "Precious" and puts out more coonery than a little bit, so his opinion about Django is worth near nada.

    And doesn't whether or not you have this 'double consciousness' depend on who you and your friends are to begin with? I mean if you're an educated, peace-loving person at home, why do you need to wear a mask when you go out?

  • Ben Je | December 15, 2012 10:56 AMReply

    Interesting...

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