The World According to Sam Jackson

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Kansas-Missouri area where his dad was living.

“And there was my father, back home living with his mother. Told me about all these brothers and sisters I had in different places. Had a baby introduced to me [who] was younger than my daughter, and my girl was only, like, 3 months old. My father was still doing the same thing. That trip was the last time I saw my dad. He died a few years later. He was an alcoholic. Died of cirrhosis.”

So even when Sam hit his lowest life point with the crack addiction, he never allowed it to defeat him completely, as his father had been defeated. It probably has helped greatly that his self-admitted best friend is his wife, LaTanya Richardson, whom he met in Atlanta when he returned to college from that two-year suspension. He had changed his major from oceanography to theater and found himself taking drama courses at Spelman College, Morehouse’s sister school.  Married since 1980,  they’ve been together more than 40 years.

There is no telling what the next acts have in store for Jackson. He mentions his desire to win an Academy Award a few times. He is still very much an activist, but quietly now, in America, in Africa, building schools, wells and working for AIDS prevention, along with his wife. He will team with Tarantino once more for Django Unchained, a sort of a Western about which Jackson says, “I’m actually playing a loyal house nigga [who will,] hopefully, become the most despised Negro in the history of cinema, ’cuz it’s a despicable role.”

He is a producer, too, often looking to help an actor or director who deserves a break. And he makes sure his mom, who now has Alzheimer’s, is properly cared for at a facility in the South. When I ask Jackson what the superstar would say to that little boy who was a bookworm, his face brokers that wide grin once more.

“I would tell that kid who’s sitting on the porch reading a book while other little niggas are running down the street, giving [him] shit because [he] did not want to play, that he’s doing the right thing. Continue to believe in who you are.”