What Did Jamie Foxx Do Before His Big Showbiz Break?

Before Jamie Foxx became one of Hollywood's biggest names, he was born into humble beginnings as Eric Bishop in the small town of Terrell, Texas. When his birth parents, Shaheed Abdullah and Louise Talley, could no longer care for him, he was adopted by his mother's parents, Mark and Estelle Talley. Throughout his career, Foxx has regularly praised his grandmother for pouring into his talents after noticing his musical capabilities at an early age. Having been raised in a devout Christian household, the church was where Foxx was able to hone his many skills.

Now as a Grammy and Golden Globe winner, among others, there is nothing the actor and singer cannot do. However, his climb to superstardom was anything but quick. He started out solely focused on music but quickly branched out, getting in touch with his many gifts. Before his big break arrived, Foxx was already a force to be reckoned with.

Jamie Foxx was an adored local pianist

Growing up, Jamie Foxx took a liking to the piano at a young age. With the blessing of his grandmother Estelle Talley, he began piano lessons at the age of three. By the time he was 13 years old, Foxx was getting paid to play the piano at various locations and venues in his hometown. Two years later, Foxx was promoted to the musical director at his church, leading the choir on Sundays.

In addition to being a well-known pianist, Foxx also excelled in high school as a local football star. Ultimately, it was his keyboard skills that landed him a scholarship from the United States International University in San Diego, California, studying classical music and composition. Unfortunately, his college experience was not always pleasant, having experienced racism from several of his instructors. During a 2018 episode of Grey Goose's "Off Script," Foxx explained that during one musical, his school would not let him on the stage to sing due to his skin color. "They wouldn't let me go on the stage, but they would let me behind the curtain because there weren't any African Americans in the production. So I would sing in the back, and I would just sing the parts they needed me for," he explained. Eventually, Foxx dropped out to pursue his career full-time, a move that paid off.

Jamie Foxx turned his attention to comedy

While still in college, Jamie Foxx used his weekends to search for record deals in Los Angeles. It was during this time that he found his way into comedy clubs. The multifaceted entertainer soon discovered a new love: doing impersonations of his favorite comedians on stage. He came up with a unique strategy to get more stage time. After learning that women comedians were being called to perform first, Foxx would list multiple female aliases for himself on the performer list.

In 1991, he got his first big break after auditioning for the sketch comedy series, "In Living Color." He remained on the hit show until 1994. He even landed his own HBO stand-up special during that time, "Jamie Foxx: Straight From the Foxxhole," which debuted in 1993. During this time, Foxx brought his music back into the equation, releasing his first album, "Peep This," in 1995, which landed at #78 in the Billboard 200.

From 1996 to 2001, Foxx starred in his own sitcom, "The Jamie Foxx Show," alongside "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" reality television personality and actor Garcelle Beauvais. From there, his career blossomed, winning several prestigious awards, including an Oscar for Best Actor, following his role as Ray Charles in the iconic 2004 biopic. Despite Foxx's recent medical scare and recovery from the spotlight, Foxx continues to be regarded as one of the most talented men in entertainment.