Book notes: Act Like You Got Some Sense by Jamie Foxx

Act Like You Got Some Sense by Jamie Foxx book summary review and key ideas.

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Act Like You Got Some Sense: And Other Things My Daughters Taught Me by Jamie Foxx


In this hilarious and heartfelt memoir, award-winning, multi-talented entertainer Jamie Foxx shares the story of being raised by his no-nonsense grandmother, the glamour and pitfalls of life in Hollywood, and the lessons he took from both worlds to raise his two daughters.

Jamie Foxx has won an Academy Award and a Grammy Award, laughed with sitting presidents, and partied with the biggest names in hip-hop. But he is most proud of his role as father to two very independent young women, Corinne and Anelise. Jamie might not always know what he’s doing when it comes to raising girls – especially when they talk to him about TikTok (PlikPlok?) and don’t share his enthusiasm for flashy Rolls Royces – but he does his best to show up for them every single day.

Luckily, he has a strong example to follow: his beloved late grandmother, Estelle Marie Talley. Jamie learned everything he knows about parenting from the fierce woman who raised him: As he puts it, she’s “Madea before Tyler Perry put on the pumps and the gray wig”.

In Act Like You Got Some Sense – a title inspired by Estelle – Jamie shares up close and personal stories about the tough love and old-school values he learned growing up in the small town of Terrell, Texas; his early days trying to make it in Hollywood; the joys and challenges of achieving stardom; and how each phase of his life shaped his parenting journey. Hilarious, poignant, and always brutally honest, this is Jamie Foxx like we’ve never seen him before.” -Audible

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Opening thoughts:

I’m pretty excited to read this book because I’m a huge fan of Jamie Foxx and I usually have great experiences with memoirs or books written by people I admire. Also, his podcast episode on the Tim Ferriss show was one of the most well received episodes. Personally, it was one of my favorites.

Key notes:

  • His daughter says that fatherhood is the thing that he’s most passionate about as his two daughters are his whole world
    • He wrote this book as something he wish he had but would also be an honest reflection of his journey as a dad

Parenting… You ain’t ready for it 


  • His grandmother knew there was something special in him and didn’t want him to be ruined by the other kids in the block
    • She wanted him to learn self-discipline and how to cultivate his own space so that others will be drawn to him instead of him wanting to be with others
  • His grandmother taught him to be a leader by being a leader herself in their community
    • Jamie clearly remembers her standing up to the preacher and telling him to stop speaking negative words toward non-straight people
  • Every parent wants to see their children soar
  • In his Oscar acceptance speech, he thanked her for being his first acting coach
    • She taught him to stand straight and act like he got some sense

you better recognize

  • For him and his first daughter’s mom, he knew that the most important thing between them two in their relationship was respect

Dad rule number one: you gotta show up

  • Even though it might not seem right, he believes part of being a dad is not letting your family know everything that’s going on because you’re responsible for family morale
    • However, he learned later on that it’s OK to be vulnerable and let your family in because you all want to help each other
    • The most important thing is to be there for your kid, but you also have to connect with them when you are there
  • His daughter taught him that as long as your kids see you trying, they’ll usually give you a pass

the switch from the switch

  • He learned that there is power in your kids feeling guilty for disappointing you

snitches get stitches

  • He recounted the story where his youngest daughter learned a lesson that he taught her which was to have your family’s back and not snitch on them

the gift that keeps on giving

  • He was smart but he was also a class clown who always disrupted the class and made everyone laugh
    • One of his teachers eventually made a deal that if he behaved he would get 10 minutes at the end of class on Friday to do his set
    • It eventually turned into almost a full day of him doing routines he copied
  • His grandmother made him learn music because she knew it was his ticket to the other side of the tracks
    • Music connected people and would allow him to see the world
  • You know you did a good job parenting your kid when they start parenting you
  • After graduating college and working an office job, his daughter decided she wanted to go into acting
    • He was excited and supportive of her but also a nervous wreck of a parent, like any parent would be

less money, Mo’ problems!

  • During his teenage years, his grandma took all of his earnings he made playing music
    • When he was in college she surprised him and said she saved it for him and gave it back to him because he’s an adult now
    • He felt like she truly did care about him and his well-being
  • While he didn’t want his daughters to grow poor, he also didn’t want to spoil them and is always on hyper-alert to make sure they don’t become entitled and ungrateful
    • The kids learned that Christmas wasn’t about the gifts, but about the meaning of the people behind the gifts
  • Quick tip for aspiring filmmakers: audio is 10,000 times more important than video so be sure to have good mics and audio equipment before a fancy camera
  • It’s better to have money than not to have it, but the challenge is making sure you teach your kids the value of it

It Takes a Village

  • It’s not only that it takes a village to raise a child, but as your child grows up, they wander through different villages, and the people there will have a big influence on the child 
  • He also realizes that he’s a part of the village of his kid’s friends
    • So he tries to always be encouraging it’s all the kids he meets
    • There’s more than enough love to go around for everybody

Give It Up for Not Giving It Up

  • In life, you’re gonna hear “no” a lot
  • Auditioning and getting the part for the movie Any Given Sunday for Oliver Stone was a chance for him to prove that he wouldn’t give up on himself
    • This also helped extend his TV show another season to hit 100 episodes when Oliver vouched for him to the TV producers

getting to the pearly gates

  • He was raised with a strict religious background
    • But for his daughters he wanted them to find their own spirituality
    • However, he still made them learn about the Bible because it was good to learn and develop their moral code and become good people 
  • He learned that inherently, everything your parents do is uncool

New Dad

  • He decided he wanted to be a new dad compared to an old school dad versus a liberal Hollywood elite dad when it came to parenting and his daughter dating
  • He realized that new dad would be straight up and give his daughters the right information about dating and sex so that they wouldn’t learn it from another source

the tale of two parties 

Reader’s note: I love the section. He’s basically saying how for his birthday he had two of his worlds collide: The celebrity party Jamie and the family Jamie. And even though there were a lot of fun things going on, he chose to spend his time with his younger daughter. Even though it was tough, in the end, he didn’t regret his decision at all because he knew his family was always going to be the most important.

  • In fatherhood, it’s not about how it turns out but the effort you put in and the intent that you tried

getting roasted

  • His interactions with his daughters keep him grounded and humble
  • It’s OK to let them find their voice and for you to take a couple of losses here and there as long as they don’t cross any crazy lines

guns versus Gucci

  • It’s better to be real and flawed than phony because when you’re phony you can’t truly connect with people
    • And what’s the point of life if you’re not connecting with other people?
  • Being too much of one thing is never good
    • He likes that his daughters have both Texan and Californian parts of them

the king’s gambit

  • His dad taught him about visualization which stuck with him for a long time
    • His dad also taught him how to play chess
  • He learned from chess that he hast to learn how to play with what he has
    • And if he trusts himself, it doesn’t matter which kingdom is against him
  • The lesson he learned from his relationship with his dad that he wants to pass to his daughters is that sometimes you gotta let go of the burdens and emotions that weigh you down because a lot of things in life you can’t control

Love & basketball & knowing when to keep your mouth shut

  • Through sports, he wants his daughters to learn about competition and how to work hard to achieve their goals
  • When he came to his daughter in basketball, he learned how to step back and let her figure out what she wants to do. Eventually, she’ll come to him and ask for help
    • She had an amazing game. It raised her self-confidence and improved her love of basketball

that good old family drama

  • Anger management tips:
    • Identify what’s making you mad and try and separate them into different parts
    • Then try to give them different names instead of just mad or angry
  • Because he grew up longing to have his parents come around, he wants to instill the importance of family coming together to his daughters

now I’m raising my… Parents?!

  • His stepfather from his mom’s third marriage treated him like his own son and had a huge impact on him
  • When things are going well in life, always watch your blindside 
  • You do make time for the people that you truly love
  • Even though it’s very complicated, he loves having all of his family live under his roof including his stepdad and mom
  • He was able to keep his promise and help his parents out of their drug addiction situation
    • He also loves that his daughters get to spend time with his parents

Billie Eilish also raises my daughter

  • Ideas about creativity
    1. What helps creativity is a safe environment where that creativity is nurtured
    2. Beautiful music and art can come from totally normal people
  • His daughters have seen the process behind creating great art
    • It’s not just a muse that comes in and gives you a hit song
    • Creativity is a lot of consistent hard work
    • The Muse rewards you for putting in the work
  • His heart swelled with pride and he felt like he could combust when his daughter played the piano during a party at their house and she told people that her dad taught her how to play well

tripping out

  • They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but also what doesn’t kill you gives you insight into helping your kids when they go through the same things

feminism, realism, and a little pole dancing

  • He is a feminist, but he’s also a realist
    • He wants to make sure his daughters know that the real world will present a lot of challenges for them as women
    • But also, they have the ability to overcome them
  • The job of a dad is to impart self-confidence to their kids, that no matter the challenge they can overcome it
  • He created the stage name Jamie Foxx because he noticed that during stand-up, female comedians would be prioritized for being called up
    • One night, the name stuck and he killed it, so he kept his name
  • His grandmother taught him that your kids aren’t supposed to like you all the time, but they have to respect you
  • Women deal with a lot more shit than men and they have to have a good sense of who they are so it doesn’t stand in the way of their success
    • He thinks it’s more important to empower his daughters to be tough and have the ability to stick with things until they develop mastery
  • Part of the struggle of being a dad to daughters is that he will never fully understand all the struggles they go through
    • But all he can do is be aware and help where he can

dad stop embarrassing me!

  • He and his daughter are now executive producers of their show together on Netflix
  • As a dad, all he can do is nurture and pass along any nuggets of wisdom he may have collected on the way to his daughter
  • What will make him the happiest is helping her along the journey of finding what makes her happiest
  • Give yourself permission to pat yourself on the back when things do go right, but prepare for the next crisis coming around the corner

Closing thoughts:

I loved this book so much. I really respect Jamie Foxx for not only his artistry but also his work ethic and worldview. This book gave a great insight further into what type of person he is and his mindset.

Even though this book is mostly focused on his journey of being a dad, it had such great lessons about life. It also gave some of his backstory that I didn’t know before, which is always what I look forward to when reading biographies/memoirs of famous people.

I’m taking serious note of all of the parental advice he gives because one of my biggest goals in life is to be a dad myself. I’ve wanted to have kids for a long time, but I knew I had to be in the right place in my life first. I appreciate him pulling back the curtains of what kinds of struggles parents have. He said it himself that this book would be something he wish he could have had for himself, which makes it a great resource for aspiring parents.

Overall, I think this book is a fantastic read. Bonus points if you’re a fan of Jamie Foxx, want to be a parent one day, aspire to work in the entertainment industry, or just generally want great life advice. I highly recommend the audiobook version as Jamie reads it himself and it’s so great to hear him vocalize his own thoughts and words.

One Takeaway / Putting into practice:

Since this book is mainly focused on fatherhood, I feel like the one takeaway should be related to that:

  • In fatherhood, it’s not about how it turns out but the effort you put in and the intent that you tried

I think this is a great point to keep in mind as I prepare for starting a family of my own one day. Always put in the effort and make sure my kids know I tried. Always give it my best, and try to become better over time. Even if things don’t turn out the way I want, all that matters is that I cared and showed I did through my actions.


Multi-talented megastar Jamie Foxx imparts the wisdom and lessons learned on his journey of being a father to his two daughters.

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


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