The actor is opening up about the scrutiny surrounding her last name and the media treatment that resulted in a swirl of rumors throughout her decades-long career.
Janet Jackson enlists siblings Tito and Rebbie, mother Katherine and father Joe, as well as celebrities like Norman Lear, Debbie Allen, Questlove, Whoopi Goldberg, and Missy Elliott, to unpack the singer's early life, career and cultural impact.
In the first two hours of the four-episode docuseries, the icon speaks about various personal and professional topics, from her familys roots in Gary, Indiana, and their journey to Encino, to her rapid success as children, her work on excellent times and fame, and her transition to adulthood.
Janet's early experiences with racism were uncovered when the family moved to the not-so-kid-friendly Las Vegas, launching her first tour, and the tensions between the singer and producer Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis while working on her socially conscious third album, Janet Jackson.
As Janet admits her father stopped her from going to college in favor of a musical career, the doc repeatedly addresses the long-standing debate about how his children are treated as their parents and their managers. At one point, the singer offers her own perspectives of Katherine and Joes parenting.
I love you. Im here for you,'" Jackson said in reference to her parents' treatment of her and her siblings. Discipline without love is tyranny. And tyrants they were not. They just loved us and wanted us to be the best that we could be.
Janet reflects on the decision to break away from Joe following the release of her self-titled debut album and low record sales. I knew that I had to take control of my life. I wanted my own identity. I wanted to go on my own, she explained.
I wanted to do things like I wanted to do, but like I said, its hard to say no to my father, Jackson said. So in order to do things like I wanted to do, I think he would have to be out of the picture.
Says to Tito's brother, "Janet is one of the few people in the family who would stand up to my pop." "She's tough. She's not going to let anyone say anything to her, "My father admired her for being that way."
Janet recalls that a "change" between her and Michael, whose solo career had made him the most popular artist in music due to the success of his Thriller album.
The singer-dancer says the two men sat in the solitary silence after a particular visit, although it is clear that things would be different.
"Neither one of us said a word to each other," Janet recalls. "Thats a time when [Michael] and I started going our separate ways. We werent as close."
According to Janet, having her last name meant that they want to use a certain microscope to help him get through the process.
They always tried to make my brother look like some kind of a freak, she said.
The two-hour night show explores the differences between Janet's first and third marriages. She describes how her short-lived relationship with singer James DeBarge impacted her acting, while previously unseen footage reveals her commitment from backup dancer Elizondo.
A rumor was made that Janet had a secret child with DeBarge during this same period, according to her co-stars.
First they were saying my niece Brandi was my daughter, and that I gave it to Jackie [Jackson], then they began saying it was Stevanna, a frustrated Janet noted. I dont think the weight of that negativity around me, but I can never keep a child away from James. I could never do that, thats not right.
Debbie Allen, a co-star of the Fame, defends Janet against the accusations, stating that she was there with us all day, every day and that no one knew a baby.
Rebbie, who has been implicated in the rumor, also shoots it down. I dont know where that ridiculous idea came from,, she said.
Janet Jackson, a two-night, four-hour show, airs on Lifetime and A&E Friday, January 28, and Saturday, January 29, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.