“I’m grow­ing out of self-ha­tred and grow­ing into love”

As the daugh­ter of Michael Jack­son, she has one of the most fa­mous sur­names in the world. And as she tells Stel­lar’s Jor­dan Baker on the eve of her first trip to Aus­tralia, Paris Jack­son is de­ter­mined to use her high pro­file as a plat­form for good

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Stellar - - Cover - Pho­tog­ra­phy NINO MUÑOZ Styling GEMMA KEIL

Paris Jack­son ar­rived at Stel­lar’s shoot 40 min­utes late and pro­fusely apolo­getic. She was bleary-eyed and in pos­ses­sion of a su­per-jumbo cof­fee – but this was no Hollywood hangover. Late the night be­fore, she had ar­rived back home to Los An­ge­les af­ter a mercy mis­sion to Puerto Rico, the Caribbean is­land left in tat­ters by Hurricane Maria. She flew there and back in a day aboard a char­ter flight car­ry­ing re­lief sup­plies. In Aguadilla, a town that had been with­out elec­tric­ity for weeks, she helped load the trucks with pal­lets of fresh drink­ing wa­ter be­fore meet­ing some lo­cal kids.

“It puts a lot into per­spec­tive, when you show up with some 5000 pounds of sup­plies and it’s not even a frac­tion of what they need to get back on track,” Jack­son tells Stel­lar.

Most celebri­ties would have con­tented them­selves with a do­na­tion, but there’s noth­ing con­ven­tional about Jack­son. She walks red car­pets with­out make-up. She doesn't shave her legs or armpits. She dresses like a Goa hip­pie from the ’70s, with mu­sic tastes to match. She posts un­flat­ter­ing pic­tures on so­cial me­dia. And she is more wor­ried about the state of the world than her per­sonal brand. “My ac­tivism and my work, such as mis­sions like [Puerto Rico], are on the top of my list of pri­or­i­ties,” she says. “Al­most ev­ery­thing I do comes back full cir­cle to­wards this kind of work, in­clud­ing my job.”

While the 19-year-old model and ac­tor wears her heart on her In­sta­gram sleeve, there is one sa­cred part of her life she fiercely pro­tects: her re­la­tion­ship with her fa­ther. The topic of Michael Jack­son – the late, great, and peren­ni­ally fas­ci­nat­ing mu­sic icon – is a no-go with his daugh­ter.

But it is clear he is never far from her thoughts. She has nine tat­toos de­voted to him, in­clud­ing the word “Bad” in those bold, red cap­i­tals on her right hand and “Queen Of My Heart” in his hand­writ­ing on her left.

Ear­lier this year, Jack­son starred in a mu­sic video for a mu­si­cian friend. She dances, runs and rides a bike through the woods, with her hair and In­dian sarong fly­ing in the wind. Singer Nahko de­scribed the song, ‘Drag­on­fly’, as a trib­ute to Jack­son’s “self-dis­cov­ery and trans­for­ma­tion”. One lyric was par­tic­u­larly poignant: “I re­sist and I sur­vive.”

Jack­son was just 11 years old when her fa­ther died. At that point she did not have con­tact with her mother, a cos­metic nurse named Deb­bie Rowe who mar­ried Michael at the Sher­a­ton Ho­tel in Syd­ney in 1996. She had spent her child­hood clois­tered at Nev­er­land Ranch, a world that out­siders ques­tioned but Jack­son re­mem­bers as joy­ous and idyl­lic. And then it all fell apart.

At his me­mo­rial ser­vice, the lit­tle girl whose face her fa­ther had al­ways shielded from pry­ing eyes faced the world. “I just wanted to say, ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best fa­ther you could ever imag­ine,” she said through her sobs. “And I just wanted to say I love him so much.”

Given the in­tense me­dia fas­ci­na­tion that con­tin­ues to sur­round her fam­ily, Jack­son is un­der­stand­ably wary of the press. Her in­ter­views are rare, and when they do hap­pen are gen­er­ally con­ducted via text mes­sage. For her cover in­ter­view with Stel­lar, she agreed to re­spond to our ques­tions on email.

While any in­quiries about her fa­ther are gen­tly re­buffed, she does oc­ca­sion­ally open up about him on so­cial me­dia. “Birth­day wishes to the one per­son who showed me what pas­sion truly was,” she wrote on In­sta­gram in Au­gust. “I will never feel love again the way I did with you.”

Over the years Jack­son has been open about her strug­gles af­ter her fa­ther’s death, which in­cluded drug ad­dic­tion, self-harm, and sev­eral sui­cide at­tempts in her mid-teens. But a stint at a “ther­a­peu­tic school” that spe­cialised in grief man­age­ment helped her heal. When she turned 18, Jack­son be­gan re­veal­ing her­self to the world on In­sta­gram, like a but­ter­fly emerg­ing from a dark and tor­tur­ous co­coon.

Since then, things have hap­pened quickly for the idio­syn­cratic teenager with the strik­ing green eyes. Al­ready Jack­son has been signed to IMG Models, shot for Chanel, and ap­peared on the cover of in­ter­na­tional fash­ion mag­a­zines. She has made her act­ing de­but in next year’s Gringo, di­rected by Aus­tralia’s Nash Edgerton and star­ring his brother Joel. Yet none of this is as im­por­tant to Jack­son as ac­tivism. She is de­ter­mined to use her fame as a plat­form, whether it’s help­ing strug­gling com­mu­ni­ties in Puerto Rico or vis­it­ing Malawi as an am­bas­sador for her god­mother’s char­ity, the El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor AIDS Foun­da­tion.

One such cause that’s im­por­tant to Jack­son is body im­age. In an arena prone to air­brush­ing phys­i­cal im­per­fec­tions, she qui­etly wages a cam­paign against van­ity on her In­sta­gram ac­count, post­ing pic­tures of her­self us­ing mud to wash off the “filthy make-up from work” or slouch­ing in her undies with the cap­tion “com­fort­able in my rolls”.

“I’d like to be a role model that par­ents are OK with their kids looking up to,” she ex­plains to Stel­lar. “I make it very clear that I am flawed be­cause I think it’s im­por­tant to show oth­ers that, sure, I have a high­light reel like ev­ery­one else in the in­dus­try, but I’m also def­i­nitely still a hu­man be­ing with a sloppy be­hind-the-scenes. And that’s OK.”

She ad­mits it isn’t al­ways easy. “Some days I’m very happy to be my­self and em­brace ev­ery as­pect of my­self and my body, other days it gets dif­fi­cult,” she says. “I went through a lot of self-ha­tred in my younger days, but I’m happy as well as proud of my­self to say that I’m grow­ing out of that and grow­ing into love.”

She stays on so­cial me­dia, de­spite its oc­ca­sional cru­elty, to spread love and hon­esty, she says. “I have the abil­ity to share my jour­ney in this crazy thing called life, and I get to share my mis­takes, my in­sight, my growth. We all make mis­takes as hu­mans… but it’s im­per­a­tive to be able to own up to your mis­takes and then grow from them. I’m still learn­ing to do that. I’m learn­ing a lot of things.”

Jack­son is vis­it­ing Aus­tralia for the first time this week as a spe­cial guest of the Vic­to­ria Racing Club and Fash­ion Part­ner Myer for Emi­rates Mel­bourne Cup Day. “It’s al­ways been a dream of mine to visit the land Down Un­der, es­pe­cially af­ter hear­ing sto­ries of my par­ents get­ting mar­ried in Syd­ney,” she says.

She knows noth­ing about horserac­ing, but her “Aussie homies” have filled her in about the sig­nif­i­cance of the Cup. De­signer Alex Perry is work­ing with Jack­son on her dress, which she’ll wear while vis­it­ing the Myer Mar­quee in the fa­mous Flem­ing­ton Bird­cage and Myer’s Fash­ions on the Field. “I en­joy get­ting dressed up for events when it’s on my terms and I’m able to ex­press my­self,” she says. If Stel­lar’s racing-in­spired shoot is any in­di­ca­tion, cup-go­ers in­vited into Myer’s mar­quee on Tues­day will meet a friendly young woman, who is flat­tered Aus­tralians want to meet her. Dur­ing the shoot in LA, she danced and sang to Diana Ross and Ste­vie Won­der, fell in love with the photographer’s Pomera­nian dog, and gave ev­ery crew mem­ber a hug good­bye.

She mod­elled de­signer pieces, but de­parted in leg­gings and ugg boots. “My first pri­or­ity when dress­ing my­self day-to-day is al­ways com­fort. I like to feel as though I’m in py­ja­mas.”

Jack­son in­sists there’s noth­ing glam­orous about her life. She lives in a record­ing stu­dio in the LA com­pound pur­chased by her grand­fa­ther, Joe, in 1971 with roy­al­ties from the Jack­son 5 – the same stu­dio where her fa­ther de­moed ‘Beat It’.

“I live with my best friends and my dogs. We have four dogs and three cats col­lec­tively, and they are my en­tire life,” she says. “When I’m not work­ing or camp­ing, my day usu­ally con­sists of read­ing, catch­ing up on shows, spend­ing time with my lit­tle ones, or kick­ing it with my brothers. I don’t lead a very ex­cit­ing home life. A mel­low life is a happy life.”

Her brothers – Prince Michael, 20, a video pro­ducer, and Blan­ket, 15 – fre­quently ap­pear on her so­cial-me­dia ac­counts. Oc­ca­sion­ally, so does Paris’s mother, Deb­bie Rowe, who re­con­nected with her daugh­ter af­ter Michael’s death and her own can­cer di­ag­no­sis. Rowe told one news out­let, “[Paris] is my rock, she’s amaz­ing. She’s been with me the whole time.”

She is still her in teens, but Jack­son’s life has been full of emo­tional up­heaval. It seems to have made her thought­ful, wise be­yond her years and con­cerned about ev­ery­thing from the health of the Great Bar­rier Reef to the po­lit­i­cal cli­mate in the US.

“I’ve been try­ing to have a more op­ti­mistic out­look on our coun­try’s cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, and it’s also not re­ally pro­duc­tive to be do­ing what I am do­ing in the ac­tivism world if I’m be­ing led by fear, anger or re­sent­ment,” she says. “It’s about be­ing ruled by love and be­ing love.”

Paris Jack­son will be at­tend­ing the Emi­rates Mel­bourne Cup at Flem­ing­ton this Tues­day as a guest of the VRC and Myer.

HAIR Lorenzo Martin @ The Wall Group MAKE-UP Jo Baker @ For­ward Artists MANICURE Stephanie Stone @ For­ward Artists PARIS WEARS Preen by Thorn­ton Bregazzi dress, Nerida Win­ter hat, and Mis­soni boots, all myer.com.au; (below) Asilio dress, Ann Shoe­bridge hat, and Tony Bianco boots, all Myer, as be­fore. Prod­ucts avail­able at se­lect Myer stores, or visit myer.com.au

INTO THE SPOT­LIGHT (clock­wise from top) Paris Jack­son at her fa­ther’s me­mo­rial ser­vice in 2009 with (from left) Janet Jack­son, her brother Blan­ket, La Toya Jack­son, Jackie Jack­son and brother Prince Michael; Paris at­tends the Cos­tume In­sti­tute Gala in New York in May; Michael Jack­son with Paris's mother, Deb­bie Rowe.

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