Jamie Foxx will be honored with the Spotlight Award at the Palm Springs Film Festival in Southern California on Jan. 2. It’ll be for the role he played in the new film “Just Mercy,” which also stars Michael B. Jordan.
Foxx plays death row inmate Walter McMillian, who was wrongly convicted of killing an 18-year-old white woman in Monroeville, Alabama in 1987. After spending six years in prison, he was exonerated in 1993 when lawyer Bryan Stevenson, played by Jordan, took on his appeal case. “Just Mercy” was released this week on Christmas Day.
Foxx has been critically praised for the role and has already been honored by the African American Film Critics Association. He’s also received a SAG nomination for Best Supporting Actor, as well as nominations from the Black Reel Awards and AARP’s Movies for Grownups awards.
The film festival honor will take place at the Palm Springs Convention Center, where others will be given an award, like Cynthia Erivo, who will be recognized for playing Harriet Tubman in the film “Harriet.”
Jennifer Lopez will also be honored for the role she played in the movie “Hustlers.” The festival itself runs from Jan. 2 to Jan. 13.
“In ‘Just Mercy,’ Jamie Foxx gives a moving and truly remarkable performance as Walter McMillian, a man sentenced to death for a murder, for which he was wrongly convicted,” said festival chairman Harold Matzner in a statement.
“This is an inspiring drama that brings an important story about how our justice system can fail to the big screen,” he added. “It is a story that audiences should see. It is our honor to present the spotlight award to Jamie Foxx.”
Foxx also spoke of the “Just Mercy” role during a recent visit to the “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and said playing McMillian is different than any other role he’s taken on.
“This is the most important movie I’ve ever done,” the actor explained. “Because Walter McMillian is a stone’s throw away from me or any black man and what I mean by that, my father actually went to jail for $25 worth of illegal substance for seven years.”
“They don’t understand, that man taught me how to play tennis, taught me how to swim. … That man taught me everything and they took him from me. … That chunk of life disrupted everything. So when I see what Walter McMillian went through, it’s not the same dynamic, but it’s so close because of the perception of us.”