Here Are the Biggest Revelations from Janet Jackson's New Lifetime Documentary — So Far

·5 min read

Janet Jackson is telling all in the upcoming Lifetime and A&E documentary Janet, which features the star in candid conversation about everything from her personal relationships to her professional triumphs.

Jackson, 55, pulled back the curtain on her most private battles, including her complicated relationships with her later father Joe and brother Michael, and her ill-fated marriages to James DeBarge and René Elizondo Jr.

Here are the biggest Janet revelations.

Her father Joe was controlling, but she loved him

In the documentary, Jackson discussed at length the complex relationship she shared with her late father Joe, who ruled her childhood household with an iron fist as he managed her brothers to success in the Jackson 5.

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Jackson described her father as a "good-hearted guy [who] really protected us," and credited him with helping her family achieve all that they did. Still, she noted he was "very tough."

"He told us what he wanted you to do, and you did it," she said. "My parents disciplined all of us. And that's how we as a people, we raised our kids. But you turn around and you give them love to show them, 'I love you, I'm here for you.' Discipline without love is tyranny, and tyrants they were not. They just loved us and wanted us to be the best that we could possibly be. Obviously it worked."

Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson

Lifetime Janet and Joe Jackson

Though Jackson said she had dreams of going to college to study business law, her life's course changed after she accidentally left a recording of her singing for Joe to hear. Once he'd heard his daughter's talent, he decided college was out and music was in, and he would be her manager.

Jackson said that joining the cast of Fame was Joe's decision, not hers, as was the cover choice for her first album, which she did not like. By the time it came time to record her second album, Jackson had fired Joe, who died in 2018 at age 89.

"I wanted my own identity but at that time, my father was in charge of my life, my career, and he was my manager," she said. "It's hard to say no to my father, so in order to do things the way I wanted to do, I guess he would have to be out of the picture… I wanted to go on my own."

Janet and Michael drifted apart in his Thriller era

Growing up, Jackson and her older brother Michael were "very close, [and] did everything together," she recalled in the documentary.

Things started changing, however, around the time he released Thriller in 1982, and his fame grew to even further heights.

Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson

Lifetime Janet (C) and Michael Jackson (R)

"For the first time in my life, that's when I felt it was different between the two of us, that a shift was happening," she recalled. "He would always come in my room and we'd talk, and this particular time, he came in my bedroom. Neither of us said a word to each other, and then he got up and left."

Jackson also took issue with media coverage of Michael, saying in the documentary: "They always tried to make my brother seem like some sort of a freak."

Her marriage to James DeBarge fell apart because of his drug use

Jackson married fellow musician DeBarge in 1984, when she was just 18 years old.

Though she described him as "a sweet guy" in the beginning, Jackson revealed that it was his frequent drug use that caused their marriage to crumble after just one year.

Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson

Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Janet Jackson and James DeBarge

"When we got married and came back to the hotel he said, 'OK, I'll be right back,'" she recalled of their wedding night. "And I'm sitting in the hotel room in Grand Rapids, Michigan by myself, just 18, and for three hours, he never came back. I don't know, maybe it's this person in me that wants to help people subconsciously. When it comes to relationships, somehow I'm attracted to people that use drugs."

Jackson said she spent many a night searching the streets for DeBarge, and would try and flush his pills down the toilet. Their marriage was annulled after a year.

She thought second husband René Elizondo Jr. was the one

The "Rhythm Nation" singer first met Elizondo when he was working on a film, and a mutual friend invited him over to meet Jackson.

"I needed to just be free of being with somebody that did drugs and all of that," she said. "I needed a lift. René was funny, just always had fun together. He was very, very charming."

Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson

A&E Janet Jackson in Janet

The pair were married in 1991 after a beachfront proposal, and though they split in 2000, Jackson said things were different the second time around.

"We were out on the beach, it was raining like crazy, and that's when he asked me to marry him," she recalled. "James never proposed to me. He never gave me a ring or anything like that, so it was different. I wanted it to be it. But I thought that every time."

Janet, a two-night documentary event, will premiere Friday at 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime and A&E.

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