Jamie Foxx was adopted by his grandparents, Estelle and Mark Talley, at 7 months old
Jamie Foxx’s childhood isn’t the typical Hollywood story, but the Oscar winner never let his complicated relationship with his biological parents overshadow his immense talent — or hold him back from becoming a star.
The actor, whose birth name is Eric Marlon Bishop, was born in Terrell, Texas, to Darrell Bishop and Louise Annette Talley Dixon, who separated after his birth.
When his mom realized she "was not ready for the responsibility of parenting," as Jamie explained in his book Act Like You Got Some Sense, Louise's adoptive parents, Estelle and Mark Talley, took Jamie in at 7 months old and became his primary caretakers.
Estelle and Mark were originally Louise's aunt and uncle, but were unable to have children of their own and offered to adopt Louise after seeing her biological mother "stressed trying to raise [Louise's] siblings," as Jamie wrote in his book. Thirteen years later, Estelle and Mark opened their home again when they took Jamie in, eventually becoming his adoptive parents as well, though the actor refers to them as his "grandparents."
“My grandmother ... that’s somebody who said, ‘I see something in that little boy that’s very special.’ And she made sure I had every tool that I needed to grow and expand,” Jamie recalled on his game show Beat Shazam, per Entertainment Tonight. “When you’re a kid, you just want to be loved, and my grandmother loved me.”
While Jamie has spoken in interviews about how he longed for his parents throughout his childhood, it was Estelle’s love that helped him build a successful life, opening the door to reconciliation with Louise years later and a father figure in the form of her ex-husband, George Dixon.
Now a father himself to daughters Corinne and Anelise, Jamie uses the lessons from his childhood to be a supportive parent.
"You can do two things. You can let it cave you in, when things didn't go right as a kid. Or you can say, 'Oh, when I get my shot, I'm gonna make sure I do this,' " Jamie told USA Today in 2021. "When I got my shot to raise my kids, those things that I felt like my biological parents didn't do necessarily right, I said, 'Oh, I know what it is now.' "
Here's everything to know about Jamie Foxx's family, including his mom Louise Dixon, stepdad George Dixon and late grandma Estelle Talley.
Jamie was born to Louise and Darrell in 1967
In his memoir, Act Like You Got Some Sense, Jamie shared that his mother, Louise, was originally from Dallas, Texas, and “begrudgingly” moved to Terrell at age 13. She attended high school in the small town, which was a "culture shock" to her coming from a bigger city, and Jamie described her as "beautiful, talented, charismatic."
After graduation, she moved back to Dallas, and by the time she was 26 years old, she was married to Darrell. Louise gave birth to Jamie on Dec. 13, 1967, in Terrell and his biological parents soon went their separate ways.
"Their marriage didn’t work out," the actor wrote in his book. "My dad converted to Islam while my mother was pregnant, which immediately drove a wedge between them."
According to Jamie, his mom, Louise, was "overwhelmed" by her developing relationship and having a newborn. Jamie's grandparents Estelle and Mark "offered lots of help," and he spent most of his early life in Terrell with them until, eventually, they asked to adopt him formally.
“I was five when I found out I was adopted. The news of my parentage was shocking ... But it didn't devastate me," he added. Jamie felt he was "brought up with plenty of love" with a family that cared for him.
Jamie’s grandparents gave him “the love of a mother and father”
Jamie credits Estelle and Mark for not missing out on parental love.
“I was never short on the love of a mother and father, though it came from an earlier generation of family,” Jamie told Oprah Winfrey in a wide-ranging 2005 interview for O, The Oprah Magazine. “I don't really even know what my biological father is like. ... Same with my mother. But I know that the two people who raised me cared deeply for me.”
Jamie's grandma Estelle died in October 2004 of complications from Alzheimer’s at age 95, four months before he won his first Oscar for the movie Ray.
During his emotional acceptance speech, he recalled how Estelle was his first acting teacher, who made sure he acted like “you got some sense” and always kept him in line. He ended his speech with a dedication to her.
“She still talks to me now, only now she talks to me in my dreams. And I can’t wait to go to sleep tonight ‘cause we got a lot to talk about. I love you,” Jamie said.
Jamie had a strained relationship with his father Darrell
Throughout his time growing up in Terrell, Jamie's biological father, Darrell, didn't back into his life. The Dreamgirls cast member recalled him living only 28 miles away and Jamie was left feeling confused.
"This should be a relationship that we should have. Why is it not happening? I'm actually doing good. I'm not on drugs. I'm a good guy. I'm the quarterback of the high school team in Texas, I mean, come on!" Jamie told USA Today of his thinking as a kid. "But for that connection not to happen, that affected me."
In his 2021 book Act Like You Got Some Sense, Jamie wrote about how he believes his biological father’s absence was partly due to his conversion to the Nation of Islam. The actor saw Darrell, who changed his name to Shahid Abdullah, dedicate himself completely to his faith, causing an even larger rift between them.
"I couldn’t fault a man for what he believed the afterlife would be. But while he strove to prepare himself for the afterlife, I wondered why he couldn’t think more about being a father to his son here on earth," Jamie wrote, per Entertainment Tonight. "Let it be known that I didn’t care what religion he was; he could have been Jewish, Baptist, Rastafari, or Seventh Day Adventist for all I cared, I just wanted and needed his time.”
According to the Baby Driver star, he last saw Darrell when he was starting The Jamie Foxx Show in the late '90s, and their last conversation was after Estelle's death in 2004. Jamie's biological dad reportedly died a decade ago.
Jamie's mother Louise was present in his life growing up
Louise's presence was always welcomed by Jamie, who thought his mom was quite the cool character.
“I wanted my mom to show up, but for a different reason [than my dad]: She was so fly and good-looking. We were country, but my mom was straight city. She had the new hair, the gold earrings, the Sting Ray Corvette,” he told Oprah in 2005.
Her visits also resulted in bringing him closer to his sisters: Deidra Dixon, whom he later credited with saving his life after his medical emergency in 2023, and DeOndra Dixon, an ambassador for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation who died in 2020 at 36.
"What’s great about DeOndra is that when people meet her, they sort of lose that apprehension when they see people with special needs,” he told Extra. "DeOndra just blows right past that. ... That’s a testament to [our] mom. Mom asked the kids at the school to just look out for her but treat her normal. ... She’s had a regular life."
Jamie considers his stepdad George his father
Louise’s presence also brought her then-husband George into Jamie's life. After welcoming DeOndra and Deidra with Louise, George became a father figure to Jamie, who taught him valuable lessons as a kid and fostered a love for sports.
In 2020, Jamie became emotional when speaking about him on The Graham Norton Show, recalling how the man he saw as a "king" was sent to prison for seven years over $25 of illegal substances. He revealed how much George had positively impacted his life, and although he couldn’t visit him in prison, he wrote him a letter promising to take care of him once he was released.
After he left prison, George, a former teacher, moved in with Jamie. By this point, Louise and George were divorced. Still, the actor calls him his dad, and in honor of Father's Day in 2021, Jamie posted a sweet message on Instagram.
“Happy Father’s Day to a great man… you have been through so much this past year. My soul hurts for u… but I will pour love into you life until it overflows… to the man that taught me how to be a man God bless you! George Dixon,” Jamie captioned a black-and-white photo of them.
Jamie and Louise later reconnected and lived together with George
Although Jamie told Oprah in 2005 that he and his mother, Louise, never talked, the actor started trying to reconcile with her just a few years later. In his book, Jamie explained how he began reaching out to Louise every year by inviting her to visit him.
"It was always a struggle over the years to connect the emotional dots with my mother. Once I had a little Hollywood success and could afford it, I would send her plane tickets every year with the message: If you would ever like to come out and hang with me, I would love to have you," he wrote in his book.
Louise eventually took him up on the offer, and after spending Christmas with him one year, she never left. At the time, George had been living with Jamie for seven years, and Louise moved in with Deidra and DeOndra.
“We’re trying to learn [about] each other,” the actor told Britain’s The Sunday Times in 2014 of living with his mother. “The one thing I think is great is she’s in the same house, because you realize certain things that you missed when you were growing up, like, ‘Oh, I do that because of that,’ or ‘Oh, I do this because of this."
Jamie is now much closer to Louise and often throws her elaborate birthday bashes to celebrate her. In 2020, he hinted at their closer bond in a birthday post for her on Instagram.
“Last night was my mother’s birthday... we started a new relationship... and a new decade... sooo much love !!!” he captioned a series of photos of the two.
Jamie's childhood made him an even more devoted dad
The absence of Jamie's biological dad, Darrell, has motivated the actor to be an active father and make his daughters — Corinne and Anelise — his top priority.
"I can’t always control if I make my daughters mad or not. I’m gonna mess up, embarrass them, God knows what. But I can control that I’ll always be there for them when they get unmad,” he wrote in his book.
“That’s the most important thing my father taught me — even though he taught it by not doing it. So if he is reading this book from the great beyond, my father should know he is still part of the reason I always do my best to be there for my kids,” Jamie added.
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