Michael Jackson’s only daughter, Paris Jackson, has had a burgeoning modeling and music career over the course of the past few years, but she rarely discusses her family and childhood. However, in a new interview with Willow Smith for the web series Red Table Talk, Paris got candid about her father’s death; growing up a Jehovah’s Witness with her grandmother, Katherine Jackson, who was her guardian; and reconnecting with her biological mother, Debbie Rowe as a teen. Paris also shared a recent, rare picture of her and her mother. Read on to see what Paris said and what her relationship is like with the Jackson family and Rowe now.
Watch the full episode of Red Table Talk with Smith and Paris here:
Michael Jackson married Debbie Rowe, an assistant at a dermatology office, in 1996. They welcomed two children together: Prince Jackson, who was born in 1997, and Paris, who was born in 1998.
When Miachel and Rowe divorced in 1999, she gave up custody of one-year-old Paris and two-year-older Prince, who went to live with their father full time. After Michael’s untimely death in 2009, his mom, Katherine Jackson, was given full custody of Paris and her siblings, including younger brother Blanket (who now goes by Bigi Jackson), born in 2002.
Then, when she was 15, Paris reconnected with her mother. “It’s cool, I mean, getting to know her, seeing how similar we are, getting into what kind of music she likes,” Paris told Smith on Red Table Talk, noting her mom is a country music fan. Then, she shared a photo of her and Rowe from her mom’s birthday in December (seen here).
Paris said she thinks that she and her mom “look a lot alike,” especially after Rowe sent her a photo of herself in the ’70s. “We look exactly alike. It’s just cool having her as a friend,” Paris added. “It’s very chill, which I love.”
“I see my family during family reunions,” she said, noting that’s what they refer to Thanksgiving and Christmas as since Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate holidays or birthdays.
One of the reasons for their distant relationship is their beliefs surrounding Paris’ sexual orientation. She came out as bisexual at 14 years old, but she’s since said she’s “more than bisexual” because she loves “people for people.”
“My family is very religious,” Paris told Smith. “Homosexuality’s just very taboo, so they don’t like to talk about it, it’s not really accepted.”
However, Paris added, “I’ve gotten to a point where I respect them, and I have love for them. I respect their beliefs, I respect their religion.”
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“I’m still very close with my brothers,” Paris told Smith of now 19-year-old Bigi and 24-year-old Prince. (She’s pictured here with them, as well as Omer Bhatti, 36, who she considers a brother but was not Michael Jackson’s biological child.)
“My brothers… they didn’t understand it at first,” she said of her sexuality. But Paris’ brothers quickly had her back. “They’ve always been super supportive,” she said. “Prince joined a GSA [Gay Straight Alliance] club in high school to learn about it because he wanted to support me. Not a lot of people can say they have siblings that support them like that.”
Paris told Smith that after the death of her father—pictured here with her, her brothers, and Mohamed Hadid—she was “just going through the motions” because she was so young. But these days, she feels connected to her father through music and the lessons he taught her.
“I take the positive things that I learned from him, the good morals that I learned, and try to use them every day: humility, compassion, tolerance… just being kind to other people, even if it’s someone that did you wrong, pray for them and be kind to them, be kind to yourself,” she said when asked how she keeps his memory alive.
“[I] do what I can to make him proud,” she added. “I feel like my dad would be proud.”