The Betty Interview: Janet Jackson

Michael Jackson's superstar sister tells BettyConfidential how she's been coping since his death.
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The Betty Interview: Janet Jackson

Michael Jackson’s superstar sister tells BettyConfidential how she’s been coping since his death.

-Cindy Pearlman

Janet Jackson

The past year has probably been the saddest in Janet Jackson’s life. The sudden death last June of her brother, Michael, plunged her into a deep grief from which she’s still recovering. But several projects, including a movie, a concert and a book, have helped her feel a bit more normal.

She says that “just having to show up and transform into a character” for Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married, Too? “was very therapeutic for me after I lost Michael. In a way, it was an escape. It’s what I needed to help me get through things.” And although the grief remains (“It’s there every single day,” she says) she’s also comforted by feeling Michael’s strong presence: “He was there with me while making this movie. He was there every moment.”

Janet’s kept busy with other projects as well: She recorded a new song, “Nothing,” for the film’s soundtrack. She’s going back to the concert stage for one performance this summer. She’s got a book in the works, True You, about her struggles with weight loss, that’s due out later this year. And her greatest hits CD, Number Ones, reached the top of the charts with the help of the hit “Make Me.”

How in the world did you work after your family faced such a tragic loss?
Love. It was all about the love of family and the support I felt around me. I felt nurturing from everyone in my life and from everyone on this set….The ocean calms and relaxes me. I lived on the water for a long time, and it has always made me feel good. And getting in the character for this new movie helped me. [In the film, the character Janet plays has lost her husband and son.] The grief she feels as a woman was right on point. Her grief was what I needed in my life. It was close to home. I definitely had real life to draw on, but it was tough…But I got up the next day.”

How are you feeling now?
I’m much better. I love being with my family and friends. We go to a club and listen to great music. I love to just breathe.

Read Janet Jackson’s 10 Most Memorable Moments

Tell us about your upcoming book, True You.
I didn’t just want to write about nutrition. My weight has always been about my childhood and my issues. I wasn’t a heavy kid or an oversized kid. But I did feel my self-esteem slipping. On the set of Good Times, they would say to me, ‘You need to lose weight.’ Then they would bind my chest because I had breasts at age 10. That was like telling me that who I was naturally wasn’t acceptable.

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