Jamie Foxx Visits the Academy

Written by UAP alumni Devin Mojica and Emmanuel Minaya

On Tuesday December 10th at 2:00pm, 50 students from UAP’s Peapod Adobe Youth Voices Academy (the Academy) attended a Master Class with Oscar and Grammy winner, Jamie Foxx. It was a truly inspirational experience, and we here at UAP are tremendously grateful to Jamie Foxx for his time, enthusiasm and unbridled support for the students.

Introduced by UAP’s Artistic Board Chair Rosie Perez, Foxx spoke about his start in the entertainment industry, giving most of the credit to his grandmother. Foxx explained that while most others in his racially-charged hometown of Terrell, Texas played football, his grandmother encouraged him to learn how to play the piano: “My Grandmother told me my music would take me where I needed to go.” Foxx got his start performing piano at small events in Terrell. At one such event, a woman approached the young Jamie Foxx and asked if he could sing. He belted out a tune that caught everyone’s attention, and in his words, “the whole room switched.”

the biggest obstacle was knowing yourself and how you interpret obstacles… not making excuses… and not allowing the pressures of life to restrict you.

He spoke to the importance and responsibility of being a black artist, recalling a time when Keenan Ivory Wayans told him that, as a black artist, he had to be “a thousand times better and make no mistakes.” Understanding the complexities of race and social structure, his words resonated greatly with the students. He went on to emphasize how essential it is for black artists to use their voice to raise awareness and initiate change. Foxx explained that one of the perks of being successful is “having access to anyone in the world and using that to get your voice heard.”

Transfixed and inspired by the story of Foxx’s upbringing, the Academy students were thrilled to ask him questions like, “How has fame and success helped you and what was the transition like?” and “What was the biggest obstacle to being a successful star?” Foxx replied, “the biggest obstacle was knowing yourself and how you interpret obstacles… not making excuses… and not allowing the pressures of life to restrict you.”

Students from all of the Academy programs then performed for Foxx, including the Life Stories Theater Ensemble, Media Lab, Poetry, Music, and Dance. After each performance, he gave thoughtful, supportive feedback to each student. He told student Angela Rowe, who sang an original song Clarity, to “keep your innocence” and to “bring the audience into your world.” He was floored by MasterPoet student, Janessa’s, spoken word performance, calling her a “legend.” Foxx went on to say, “I was blown away, not just by the talent, but how well the students were able to articulate their art forms.”

Student actress Kayla Robinson expressed, “It was an amazing experience for me because I was able to be in a room with someone I grew up watching,
and his words gave me motivation to really follow my dreams.” Student rapper Jaquan Harris (aka Charlie Luck) said, “ I found it very inspirational. He told us how your success is based off of how hard you work and when he said that, it really struck close to heart.”

The UAP community was humbled and transformed to host such an established artist who approached the students and their work with respect and appreciation. It was a truly unique opportunity to have artists, both aspiring and renowned, in a room together sharing a collaborative experience. A heartfelt thank you to Jamie Foxx for making this a reality.

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