The legendary Ms. Jackson spoke to Robin Givhan for Allure ahead of the release of her documentary ‘Janet,’ about her musical and stylistic roots, embracing her current role in conversations around sexuality, race, and gender, and her vision for the future of her career.
We were especially intrigued upon reading that, even as she was appearing on television as part of the cast of “Diff’rent Strokes,” Janet was plotting a career as an attorney — when fate stepped in:
“We would always write music growing up,” Janet told Allure. We had a studio at my parents’ house; it’s still there actually. So any time of day or night, if you couldn’t sleep or had an idea before school, after school, you could go in the studio and put it down, your idea, musically. So I did that and I put this idea that I had down and played all the parts on it and, like a genius, I left the tape on the machine and when I came home from school I was so embarrassed. They were listening to the song. My father, some of my brothers. I was so embarrassed. And that’s when my father said, ‘I think you should become a performer.’ I said, ‘No, no, no, no, no! You don’t understand. I want to go to school. I want to go to college and study business law and support myself by acting.’ That’s how it all started.”
Incredible right? Also can you imagine living in a house full of singers and aspiring to be a business lawyer instead? It’s kind of comedy.
The feature also puts a lot of focus on beauty standards and style and Janet praises how contemporary women have come to embrace the skin they’re in. She talks about how she adopted a more covered up style of dress in her youth:
“I was never a girly girl. I was always a tomboy. So it was always about pants, suits, even as an early teenager. I remember when my brothers got their star on the Walk of Fame and other awards they got, and I look back on pictures and I always had on a suit with a tie, a bow tie, or suspenders. Always loving black and never wanting to expose any part of my body, I felt most comfortable to cover it up to here.”
Janet also briefly touches on the aftermath of the Super Bowl mishap, though not in detail or directly. She notes how she got through it saying,
“What’s really important is going back to having that foundation. Not just family, but God. That’s what really pulled me through,” before adding “It’s tough for me to talk about that time.”
Givhan gets her to dive even further when she brings up today’s conversations about systemic racism and gender bias and how her name is often brought into those debates:
“Whether I want to be part of that conversation or not, I am part of that conversation,” Jackson continues with a certain amount of resignation. “I think it’s important. Not just for me, but for women. So I think it’s important that conversation has been had. You know what I mean? And things have changed obviously since then for the better.”
Listen, we love it that she’s telling her truths and we can’t wait to see the documentary! Read the full Allure feature HERE (Givhan calls Madonna a nuisance and we’re soooooo here for it!)
Allure’s February 2022 issue is available on newsstands in NY/LA January 11th, and nationwide January 18th.