Flavorful Fatherhood: Black Celeb Dads

These famous dads employ unique techniques in their most important role yet: Daddy.

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    Samuel L. Jackson

    Reading bedtime stories to his daughter so that she would fall asleep did not work in the Jackson household. In an audio recording on YouTube, the actor describes how he used “colorful” language to his daughter Zoe, now 30, to close up shop for the night. “I did say, ‘Go the f–k to sleep’ to her a lot. At some point, she would look at me when I would come in her room and say, ‘Go the f–k to sleep, Daddy?’ And I would say, ‘Yeah, go the f–k to sleep.’ ” Two decades later, Jackson would narrate a children’s book inspired by this frustration — the book is aptly titled Go the F**k to Sleep.

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    Will Smith

    Instead of punishing his children, Smith told Metro recently that he asks Trey, 21; Jaden, 15; and Willow, 13, to tell him how what they did “was the right thing to do for your life.” It’s a departure from traditional styles of reprimanding, and a hands-off approach — literally — when compared to methods used in some households. Smith ties it all back to slavery and describes how African Americans applied the idea of ownership to their kids. “There’s a concept of your children being property,” Smith told Haute Living. “That was a major part that Jada and I released with our kids.”

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    Jamie Foxx

    Who said black people don’t go to therapy? That’s the perception, but Foxx bucked that notion and attended sessions with his 19-year-old daughter, Corinne Bishop. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Foxx describes how it was important for him to strengthen his relationship with his eldest child, since his father was not always around. When Corinne began to date, Foxx said that he was waiting for her to pick a bad guy, but she never did. “I’ve been waiting to do ‘daddy’ things, like, ‘I’m gon’ kill this boy!’ “

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    Denzel Washington

    Washington does not mince words when dishing out advice to his 22-year-old daughter, Olivia, who aspires to be an actress. During an intimate discussion hosted by the Hollywood Reporter, the A-list actor spoke about how he is preparing his daughter to deal with the harsh realities of being a black female actress. “I [tell her] you’re black, you’re a woman — and you’re dark-skinned, at that — so you have to be a triple, quadruple threat,” Washington explained. “Look at Viola Davis; that’s who you want to be … Forget about the little pretty girls … If you’re relying on that, when you’re 40, you’re out the door. You better have some chops.”

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    Magic Johnson

    In an interview with TMZ, Johnson describes how he took news of his son’s homosexuality well and immediately made it clear to E.J. Johnson, 20, that he would love and support him. Johnson particularly likes the idea that E.J.’s story might help other people in similar situations. “I think this is going to be good for a lot of young black gay people who want to come out,” Johnson told TMZ. “He’s going to be that symbol of hope for that. That they can now tell their parents, tell their friends. E.J. is really going to help a lot of people.”

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    President Barack Obama

    If Malia and Sasha Obama decided to get tatted up, their dad said that he and the first lady will follow suit — even going so far as to getting the exact same tattoo in the exact same spot as their daughters. “And we’ll go on YouTube and show it off as a family tattoo,” President Obama said in an interview with the Today show. “And our thinking is that might dissuade them from thinking that somehow that’s a good way to rebel.”

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    Snoop Lion

    A staunch advocate for the legalization of recreational marijuana, rapper Snoop Lion — formerly known as Snoop Dogg — smokes the herb with his 19-year-old son, Corde, as a way to bond and engage in a pastime that he says is harmless. “What better way to [learn] than from the master?” Snoop told the Hollywood Reporter. “Me and my son is mellow. I’m his father, so I wanna show him the proper way because he looks up to me.”

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    Chris Rock

    If there was a place to send rich kids to toughen them up, like a School of Hard Knocks for the overprivileged, Rock’s daughters would be the first ones enrolled. “Every year I beg my wife to send the kids to camp in Harlem, and she won’t do it,” Rock said in an interview with Jon Stewart. Raised on the gritty streets of Brooklyn, N.Y., Rock said he has “nothing in common” with his daughters, Lola Simone, 11, and Zahra Savannah, 9. “I don’t understand them,” he joked. “I start to hit them, but them I’m like, ‘Eh, I can’t hit a rich kid.’ “

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