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Jamie Foxx, out with a new book, talks childhood, therapy and parenting

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And finally today, watching "Little Mermaid" with one daughter while A-list guests party hard one floor above, picking up another daughter from school in a brand new Rolls-Royce only to have her deliver that classic line, you're embarrassing me - all of which was a far cry from the way he grew up, squirreling away every penny and opportunity for a chance to live his dream. The award-winning actor, comic and musician Jamie Foxx tells us all this and more in his new book, "Act Like You Got Some Sense: And Other Things My Daughters Taught Me." In it, he shares the crazy stories you might expect from a Hollywood celebrity - the lavish parties, the glam cars and trips. But he also talks about the compromises and challenges familiar to parents everywhere, including the struggle to balance a growing family with a demanding career and to decide which parenting lessons to draw from his own childhood and which to leave behind.

And Jamie Foxx is with us now to tell us more about it. Welcome. Thank you so much for joining us.

JAMIE FOXX: Oh, man, thank you. That was so nice. Thank you for that.

MARTIN: Well, you're welcome. With all your accolades, I bet that publishers have been approaching you to write a book for some time now. I mean, a lot of celebrities do. What made you decide this was the story you wanted to tell, and why now?

FOXX: You know what? It was organic because I think my daughters are at an age where we could talk about things. You know, my daughter, 27 years old now, and my youngest daughter, from listening to my oldest daughter - because they have, like, this own little thing where they call up, like, how do we deal with this dude and stuff like that. So I felt like as much as we talk and the beautiful stories and - you know, in the book, it's a lot of funny things that happen. But it just felt right.

MARTIN: So as you said, you have two daughters, Corinne and Annalise. They're about 14 years apart, different relationships. And I mention that because, in part - you had each of them at very different points in your career. And you're really honest about the fact that, with your older daughter in particular, you were still on the come up at that time.

FOXX: Yeah.

MARTIN: And she resented that. Do you...

FOXX: Well, here's the thing.

MARTIN: You both seem very forgiving of each other at this point. But, I mean, could you talk a little bit about that? I mean, as I said, that's a struggle that a lot of people will have, even if they aren't working comedy clubs till, like, 1 and 2 in the morning and getting home exhausted.

FOXX: Yeah. It's...

MARTIN: Talk a little bit about that.

FOXX: There I am working, trying to get on, having my daughter - my beautiful daughter. But I'm out there doing these clubs. And so whenever I would come home from being gone for days or whatever, I was the Disneyland dad, or let's go have fun somewhere. And I thought Disneyland could help me raise my daughter. Let Mickey Mouse handle it. But I didn't realize, because I was going so hard, that it wasn't working, that that was actually the wrong thing to do. And it wasn't until she said, dad, I want to go to therapy - and you know the first thing I said. Well, Black people don't go to no therapy. I took you to Disneyland. What you need?

And there we are at therapy. And, of course, what did I do? I overtalked the situation. The therapist was like, hey, hey, hey, could you be quiet for just two seconds and not be this - whoever this guy is you think you are and hear from your daughter? And my daughter said something, and, you know, it cracked me. She says, dad, I didn't like you. I didn't like you at all. I didn't like Disneyland because all I really wanted was just time with you. I just wanted that time. And you didn't have to do all of that. And it just blew my mind.

But because we did do that - and it's a couple of things I learned. One, going to therapy can help you. And two, being able to hear from my daughter sobered me up. And then we started connecting in a different way. And I would bring her to my sets, bring her to where I'm working so she understood like, oh, that's why you didn't make it back, because now I see everything that you're doing and how long it takes.

And so now, look at how it comes full circle. Now we do a television show together. She's the executive at my company. She's on a television show now. So it's not to say that everything's always going to work out perfectly. But for me, I needed her to let me know that you've got to pay attention.

MARTIN: You know, it's interesting. Your daughters seem very different. Like, that is how it is. I mean, I have twins, and they're very different. But - they're two minutes apart, and they're very different people.

FOXX: (Laughter).

MARTIN: But it does seem like one of your - I'm not going to call who's who, but it seems like one of your daughters really has no time for all the glitz and glam of the Hollywood scene, and the other one rather enjoys it. And so...

FOXX: Yeah, yeah.

MARTIN: ...Why do you think that is?

FOXX: Well, here's the thing. My oldest daughter was with me when I'm on the come up. You know, she has a completely different spirit. Like, I remember finally getting, like, this big, nice Rolls-Royce that somebody gave me. And I said, oh, I'm going to pick her up at high school in this. And when I pulled up - she's frugal. She looked at the car. She said, I ain't getting in that car. Come on, baby. Come on. Look it. The top goes back. Come on. She calls her mom and says, will you come pick me up? Because this dude is tripping. He's embarrassing me. And she taught me that, hey, it's not really about that with her.

But my youngest daughter comes into the scene where I'm elevating. I'm doing my thing. And she didn't know that it was any different. Like, when we walked out and had her and she's 3 1/2, maybe 4 years old, I said, which car you want to take because we're going into the city? She said that one, and she pointed at the Rolls-Royce. And she's sitting in the back in her baby chair with her diamond up because we listening to Rihanna down Sunset Boulevard. And that shows you the difference in your kids. So that lets you know that you're going to have to parent differently.

As a matter of fact, as we're pulling up into this - some really nice place in LA but it's really - you know, LA is, like, driving Prius. And, you know, they try to act like it's, you know - so I'm coming in with this gaudy Rolls-Royce. So I tell my daughter. I said, listen, we're coming into this place. I think we need to put the top up and sort of come in a little, you know, under the radar. She's frowning. She can't take it. So as I'm pulling up, I'm trying to get the top pulled up because I see all these, you know, executives and everything like that. The top is going up, but my youngest daughter yells out, Jamie Foxx in the house.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

FOXX: So that was - that was the beauty of, like you said, having two wonderful children that really look at the world differently. But it makes you sharpen up your parenting skills because you do have to regulate and delegate differently.

MARTIN: I'm interested in - you mentioned that your oldest is in show business now.

FOXX: Yeah.

MARTIN: In fact, both of you worked together on a game show. Given all that the #MeToo movement has exposed about the industry, I'm interested in how you think about that and how you talk to your girls about that.

FOXX: Listen; I raised my daughters like this. I said, hey, I want you to come to me for everything. I don't ever want you to be uncomfortable. I don't ever want you to be thrown off or feel like you have to do anything because that's not how any of my shows or anything that we've done ran. When these movements came up - and any movie. Like, even the marches and everything like that, I take my daughter to the marches and everything. I want them to feel like they have people that support them in every way. So therefore, when anything happens, even if it's not in our business - you know what I'm saying? - I just want them to always be able to lean on me and talk and understand that our business is artistic. Our business is - we color outside the lines on purpose because that's what we are as artists. But we can still do that and still be respectful, still have - be able to go and come to work and leave work and still feel complete.

And so, look; my daughters know there's always a threat. When they're with whatever boyfriend or whatever it is, the boyfriends always know there's a threat. Like, in the book, I talk about when my daughter shows up with a boyfriend, and it just so happened I had Snoop and all his boys over. And I said, listen, Snoop, I said, there go the boyfriend right there. Where, cuz (ph)? Right there. Shake him up. And, you know, Snoop goes over it and does his thing. But, you know...

MARTIN: What is his thing? Hold up. What is this thing? What does Snoop do?

FOXX: Oh, he went over there - hey, look here, homie. I just want to know cuz, you know - you know, I'm her Uncle Snoop. You know, and what I did appreciate about the young fella is that...

MARTIN: So basically, you want them never to have a boyfriend until they're 40, is what you're telling me.

FOXX: I mean, here's - that makes sense in a crazy world, but that's not going to be the issue. And my daughter would let me know. Like, dad, you know, I'm smart enough, too. That's the other part of it. Like, that's - so my daughter was like, yo, I know which type of choices that I want to make - not saying she's going to make the great choices all the time. But what I wanted to establish was that to anybody that came in her orbit, that they have people that love them and we'll go to the ends of the Earth to make sure that they're cool and complete.

MARTIN: Do you have any regrets?

FOXX: You always live with regrets. But those regrets should teach you how to - OK, let's not make that mistake again. My oldest daughter is the best because she allowed me to make the mistakes - right? - and didn't hold all the mistakes against me so that when my younger daughter came along, she says, dad, remember what you did with me? Don't do that with her. So she's great in that sense. And then you're thinking, OK, well, she gave me the cheat sheet. But then your youngest daughter comes along with a whole different test. So you're going to have regrets, man. And if you don't feel like you have regrets, I say, like, if you care and love your kids, you're going to have regrets.

MARTIN: And what's the most important lesson you want people to draw from this book?

FOXX: Man, have fun raising your kids. Have fun. That's the one thing that we always do. We always have fun. No matter what the situation is, we attack it full on, but we have fun right after whatever it is.

MARTIN: Jamie Foxx is an award-winning actor, comedian and musician. His book, "Act Like You Got Some Sense: And Other Things My Daughters Taught Me," is out Tuesday. Jamie Foxx, thank you so much for talking to us.

FOXX: Thank you so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.