It can’t be easy growing up in the shadow of a famous dad like Jamie Foxx, but daughter Corinne Foxx has not only survived, but she has thrived as the eldest daughter of the Oscar-winning actor. So much so, that she and her dad partnered up on for a new Netflix comedy, Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!, based on their real-life relationship.
“We took the dynamic of our relationship and built the whole show around that,” Corinne tells Monsters & Critics in this exclusive interview. “Some episodes are pretty close to the truth, and some we’ve sprinkled in the truth here and there.”
In Dad Stop Embarrassing Me! Jamie plays Brian Dixon, the owner of a successful beauty company and a single dad, who just became a full-time father to his teenage daughter Sasha (Kyla-Drew), and determines to be the best father he can be, even if he doesn’t always get it right.
In order to add to the humor of the series – not that there aren’t a lot of funny real-life stories incorporated into the storytelling, they did make one significant change. Sasha gets in trouble a lot more than Corinne did growing up.
“It seems like every episode she’s in trouble for something and I, definitely, never am in trouble for anything,” Corinne adds. “That’s the only thing I think that’s a little different. But in terms of the embarrassing moments and the dynamic between Sasha and Brian, it’s pretty spot-on to how we’ve grown together.”
Corinne has equal billing to her father on the series. They both serve as executive producers, but even so, you might think that Jamie would pull his parental authority, and possibly put the kibosh on certain stories. But Corinne says, no. That didn’t happen.
“There were no restrictions on the stories that we told,” she says. “I feel like we both didn’t shy away from the positive and the negative things that have happened throughout our relationship and really want it to be authentic in telling our story. And, we have so many more to tell. There were so many more episodes that we wanted to do that we just didn’t have the time to do.”
Following is more of our chat with Corinne about working with her dad, what she is proud the series achieves, and her days of working at Victoria Secret!
Monsters & Critics: What do you want the series to achieve? I know you want it to be funny, but do you also have a message you want to share with the audience?
Corinne Foxx: I think what our show does is a great job of showcasing Black fatherhood. I feel like for so long, especially when I was growing up, when we would see Black fathers in the media, on TV, or in film, they were always absent. They were never around. And that was the only portrayal they had, which was not true. It’s not a commonality. And so, we feel so blessed that we get to showcase black fatherhood in a positive light. Does he do everything right? Absolutely not, but he’s present, he’s there, and he wants to be a part of his daughter’s life, which I feel is so important. Representation is so important. When you see families like yours, you feel heard. So, I’m really excited about showcasing the power of Black fatherhood.
M&C: Talk about Kyla-Drew. She’s representing you since it’s based on your life. What were you looking for in the actress that you were going to cast for this role?
Corinne Foxx: I think it was really important to find someone who could go up against my dad. Our relationship was very yin and yang. He was this big personality, over the top, and I was always the stable, grounded person. So, what we were looking for was somebody who could go toe-to-toe with him and balance him out, and create that friction and that conflict, but also, hold her own.
Kyla came in and she was so comfortable around him. I could see our dynamic in their dynamic, which was really important. It was tough to find the right girl. We looked at a lot of different people. Kyla just kept coming back and every time she came back, she was so right. I’m so, so happy with the way that Kyla brought this character to life.
M&C: Speaking of going toe-to-toe, what’s it like for you to be your dad’s boss? Are you actually in charge?
Corinne Foxx: Oh, I am definitely in charge. I am 100 percent in charge. My dad respects me so much. He totally takes my advice. He values my opinion. Obviously, there were times during production we didn’t see eye to eye on things, and I would say 95 percent of the time he listened to me and 100 percent of the time, I was right. I feel like it wouldn’t have worked if we didn’t have this mutual respect for each other.
M&C: What advice have you given Kyla about playing you?
Corinne Foxx: My advice to her was that you’re playing a version of me, but I want you to put your own flavor onto it. You’re a teenager now. I was a teenager 10 years ago. So, you know what’s cool. If you don’t want to say a line this way, say it your way. Bring in that youthfulness, bring in yourself, think about your own parents when they’re embarrassing you, because I want her to be relatable. And so, I told Kyla, you know this character as much as I do. I didn’t want her to feel intimidated or feel the pressure to be me or act like me. I was, “Just act like yourself. He’s embarrassing enough. You’ll be able to find the inspiration for it. I promise.”
M&C: I heard that the scene where Brian and his friends show up at Sasha’s boyfriend’s house to intimidate him was actually something from real life that your dad did with Snoop Dogg. Is that true?
Corinne Foxx: Yeah. I don’t know if Snoop Dogg was on my high school boyfriend’s front steps. My dad seems to claim that that he told him to do that. At least, I don’t know how much I believe my dad, but that’s what he says, but yes. I didn’t know that happened until years later, because my high school boyfriend was too scared to tell me that it happened. And then my dad never told me until years later. And he was like, “Yeah, I went to his doorstep with a bunch of guys and tried to intimidate him.” I’m like, “Oh, this makes sense,” years later looking back.
M&C: Tell me about the writer’s room. How did you bring in your writers?
Corinne Foxx: One of the most fun parts for me is I sat in the writers’ room every single day, which producers don’t have to do and don’t usually do, but I love the writing process. I think I was a writer first. And so, a lot of the room were my dad’s comedian friends that are writers and write on all of his projects, and so, they’re like my uncles essentially.
I’d have to wrangle them in. They’re doing so many jokes. The writer’s room for comedy is pretty wild. So, everyone’s throwing jokes, everybody’s laughing, and I’d have to come in sometimes like Bad News Bear and be like, “Hey guys, let’s actually get to work,” but I feel like that serves the show. You want it to be fun, because if we’re laughing in the room, you’re going to be laughing at home.
M&C: So, is it an all-Black writer’s room? Are people bringing their personal experiences or just culling from you and Jamie?
Corinne Foxx: No, we had a good mix. Actually. We had older Black men who have daughters. Then we had some young Black women, who were my age on the other side of it. And then we had white guys and older Black women. And so, we had a good mix. I feel like because it is a Black story, but it’s also a family story, everybody can relate to these issues and these problems. So, we wanted for the room to feel very representative of the whole.
M&C: You majored in public relations, not in theater or broadcasting. How did you come to make the switch?
Corinne Foxx: I always wanted to be in the industry, but I always felt like it was expected of me. People were like, “You can start acting now right out of high school.” And I was like, “I really want to step away from it all and see it from a different angle, and if I want to enter it on my own steam and from my own place of passion, then I will.” And so, I went to USC, I studied something, not completely unrelated, but essentially unrelated. And when I graduated and I got a job and I was thinking about how I wanted to spend the rest of my life, I was like, “This is not it. I want to write, and act, and eventually produce.” And so, here I am 5 years after all that.
M&C: I also read that even though that you have a well-to-do dad, you worked at the mall after school. Was that a good learning experience for you?
Corinne Foxx: When I was in high school, I worked at Victoria Secret and I’d fold underwear and bras. I feel like for me – yes, I went to red carpet events growing up, but I always felt super normal, and I wanted to do normal things and getting a job at the mall when you’re a teenager is what everybody does. And so, I feel like I’m so lucky because I kind of have this Hannah Montana life, where at night I’d go to the Oscars, and then during the day, I’d go to work at Victoria Secret. I feel like that was a really healthy balance for me.
M&C: Speaking of health, how did COVID-19 affect this? Did you have to change scripts because of the protocols? What was the impact on you?
Corinne Foxx: We shot our first episode on March 13th, 2020, and immediately got shut down for six months. We had to really figure out how to put the show back together because now there’s a bunch of protocols for how we film in COVID, but we didn’t have those guidelines. We basically created them. And so, there was a long pause in production. We came back after sitting down and talking to COVID compliance officers and figuring out how we’re going to put the show together. The one thing I will say that we lost and were really upset about was a live studio audience. When you’re doing a sitcom, you want that laughter, and we could not have it. So, I’m looking forward, if we do get a season 2, to do having a studio audience.
M&C: What did you learn about yourself during quarantine?
Corinne Foxx: That is a great question. I feel like I used my quarantine to really dig deeper into some of my core values, who I want to be in this industry, and what I want to do. And so, I studied for the LSAT and I took the test. I was like, “Well, maybe I’ll be a senator one day.” Then I took French lessons and thought, “Maybe I’ll move to Paris one day.” I feel like I got to lean into all these things that I’m excited about, and I wrote two scripts while I was in quarantine. And so, I liked the time away, because I felt like I got to really get centered in myself.
M&C: It sounds like you are really disciplined.
Corinne Foxx: Yes. I have to be doing a lot at a time or else you’re getting stir crazy.
Dad Stop Embarrassing Me! is now streaming on Netflix.More: Jamie Foxx