Jamie Foxx is an American film, television, and music titan. The Texas native rose to prominence in the 90’s thanks to a string of successful projects. Introduced to the world via In Living Color, Foxx would join the likes of Jim Carrey, Jennifer Lopez, and of course, The Wayans brothers (Damon, Shawn, and Marlon) in being the platform’s premiere breakout stars. This success would lead Jamie Foxx to his own television project titled The Jamie Foxx Show, which would also go on to kick start the careers of co-stars Garcelle Beauvais and Christopher B. Duncan. The show’s success was so big, however, that both Beauvais and Duncan struggled to break away from their own screen counterparts for a while.
The Jamie Foxx Show seemed like a no-brainer for television networks, considering how funny Jamie was on In Living Color. Many were not aware of the comedian’s skills as a singer and musician as well, which the show helped showcase immediately with its opening credit songs and storylines. Jamie Foxx played a fictional version of himself, a struggling musician who moved to Los Angeles from Texas. There, Foxx worked at his family’s hotel to make ends meet. King’s Tower was the site of big laughs and wild antics from Foxx and cast.
Among Jamie’s co-workers during the series’ run was the beautiful and intelligent front desk clerk Francesca “Fancy” Monroe (Garcelle Beauvais), who played Jamie’s love interest. Braxton P. Hartnabrig (Christopher B. Duncan) played Jamie Foxx’s high-strung nemesis, who worked as an accountant for the King’s Tower. The sitcom aired on The WB Network from August 28, 1996, to January 14, 2001. It was a moderate success for the channel, which was still new at the time. The series final saw Jamie and Garcelle’s characters wed and featured guest appearances from Gladys Knight, Gerald Levert, and E-40.
Following its end, Jamie Foxx went on to more career highs. He gained critical acclaim for his work in Ali, DreamGirls, and Any Given Sunday. He would go on to win Grammys and Oscars and achieve major box office and billboard success. For the rest of the cast, unfortunately, things were a little different. During an interview with Youtube channel Comedy Hype, Christopher B. Duncan discussed how hard it was to find work following the end of the Jamie Foxx show. In a segment called Unforgotten, Duncan reveals he was hurt following his portrayal of Braxton in the series.
Duncan says he is grateful for the role, as it put him on a lot of people’s radars. However, the actor says his history with it is bittersweet because sometimes people cannot see him as anything else. Duncan goes on to say that he is grateful for his role as Spyro in 1996’s Original Gangstas. It came three seasons into the Jamie Foxx series and helped Duncan showcase his chops as a serious actor. Duncan said this role helped save him from being completely typecasted as Braxton.
Duncan goes on to say he is not upset at people who cannot see past his role on the Jamie Foxx Show, but he is disappointed that they do not have enough imagination to see him as other people or other roles. “You see me in a different role. You see me doing the work. All I ask is for some openness to receive it.” Duncan says some people are able to do this, but others usually dismiss him saying, “Nah, that’s Braxton.”
Duncan’s Jamie Foxx Co-star Garcelle Beauvais is currently a host on The Real, and she talked about this at length with Loni Love. Beauvais says that Duncan absolutely killed the role of Braxton during their 100 episodes together. Beauvais says she has seen Duncan excel in other roles and says that what hurt him the most was walking into castings and being addressed as Braxton. Especially when auditioning for other black creatives.
Loni Love pointed out that the ’90s was a particularly hard time for black actors to break out of beloved roles, sighting the career of Jaleel White as an example. Love went on to say it is crucial to diversify your brand as quickly as you can when you’re “hot” so that people cannot pigeon-hold you. “That’s the key!” said Adrienne Bailon.