We've come to expect celebrity endorsements during national elections — think George Clooney endorsing future President Barack Obama or C-listers backing President Donald Trump — but we don't expect Oscar-winning stars to throw their support behind a candidate running in a local school board race. Neither did Tonya Derrick, who's running for Terrell ISD School Board District 3, yet this week she got a star-sized endorsement from none other than Jamie Foxx.
Derrick says Foxx is a childhood friend, then known as Eric Bishop. Foxx, of course, went on to find massive fame outside of his native Terrell, first on comedy sketch show In Living Color, then through films such as Ray. Derrick never asked or even dreamed of getting Foxx's endorsement, she says, as he's a big-time celebrity with a new hit Netflix show, Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!, but a mutual friend called in a favor.
Derrick and Foxx share the same best friend and that friends' mother is working on her campaign. Derrick's friend and his mother reached out to Foxx to see if he could do a short video to be shared on social media.
"I was like, 'OK if it happens it happens,' I know he's extremely busy," Derrick says. "I didn't want to reach out to him for this, but she did, and I'm glad that she did. It's brought attention to the race."
Foxx sent in a cellphone-shot video where he sings Derrick's praises.
"It's Jamie Foxx ... No, it's Eric Bishop from Terrell, Texas," Foxx says in the one-minute video. "I want to talk to you about Tonya Derrick, a woman I have known for all my life. She loves Terrell. She loves her family. She loves Terrell School District."
Foxx really has known Derrick all of his life. They grew up together in the same Terrell neighborhood, singing in the local Star Youth Revival.
"I would be making jokes in the choir, but he would be taking it seriously," Derrick says of the star. "I would be trying to take it seriously, but that wasn't my gift like it is his."
"In high school," she continues with a chuckle, "he would be singing in the talent shows, and he always said that he was singing directly to me."
In true Texas form, Foxx was the high school team's quarterback and Derrick was a cheerleader.
Those memories must have stayed with Foxx, who also said in the video: "I'm going to be honest with you, I can't think of anybody that would be better than she is. She's dedicated. She gets things done. Even when we grew up together she was always making sure everything got done and done right."
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