Michael Jackson’s sister tells TheWrap how his death influenced her decision to do her OWN reality series, “Life With La Toya”
After world-reknowned pop icon Michael Jackson died in 2009, sister La Toya Jackson’s desire to prove that that she and her family are just normal people was reinvigorated. She says she’s doing that now on her new OWN reality show, “Life With La Toya,” which airs Saturday nights at 10:30 PT/ET.
“I had been offered to do shows for the longest, and I wasn’t ready to do my show,” La Toya told TheWrap. “I wasn’t ready to reveal me or just share with the world who I was.”
“And of course, the world is so opinionated,” she continued. “And they have their own opinion of who they think you are, they really don’t. And that’s when I decided, you know what, my brother passed and nobody really got to know the true personality of who he really was in the world, they thought they knew. This would’ve been such a great opportunity to let the world know who he was. So, I said I want the world to know who I am and not just to see these stories and run with them, and run in the wrong direction.”
Also read: OWN Gives La Toya Jackson a Reality Show
When it comes to America’s most well known families, the Jacksons rank right up there with the Kennedys. Like the Kennedys and politics, the Jacksons have been the “First Family” of music since the mid-'60s. And like the Kennedys, the Jacksons have been the object of much tabloid fodder. That's, of course, ongoing now as the family's wrongful death suit against Michael's concert promoters, AEG, is being played out in Los Angeles court, something La Toya declined to speak about for legal reasons.
“I think that we live in a society that breathes off gossip," the 56-year-old fifth child of Joseph and Katherine Jackson said. "And gossip sells papers. And gossip gets your attention. And gossip makes the television shows move ads and ratings."
“So they have to make you look weird, or strange or stupid, or whatever that is for them to have this ‘look at these different individuals,’ so their shows or their papers or whatever it may be are on top. And you know, sometimes the artist suffers from that.”
La Toya said she placed only one major boundary on what OWN’s cameras could capture. “I didn’t want [Michael’s] kids to be involved in the show whatsoever, because there were rumors out there that they were a part of the show and people were thinking they were in like every other episode, or whatever, and that’s not true at all.”
This isn’t La Toya's first time on reality TV. She competed on two different seasons of NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice” and holds the distinction of being the only person to be fired and hired back by Donald Trump, as well as the only person to be fired twice — all on the same season. But, that was way different for La Toya than the OWN series.
“‘Life With La Toya' is truly and strictly me. It’s my life and what I do on my daily basis and I just take you through the journey of what I love doing, what I like doing and what’s going on in my life at that particular time,” she explained.
“I don’t even see the cameras. It’s like they’re not there,” she continued. “So, it’s not a stress level when it comes to that. But doing ‘The Apprentice,’ I must say, yes of course, there is a stress level. A great deal of stress, especially when you enter the boardroom.”
The OWN reality series followed La Toya over about five months from last August to this past January. During that time, she was getting back into the dating game, revisiting memories of her past abusive relationship, returning to her hometown of Gary, Ind., with her mother (Michael’s children “were there as well, I say hello to them and keep going. But, no, they are not a part of the show,” La Toya emphasized), and she even looks into adoption.
“I love the fact that I get to be me. And you guys see me for who and what I am. And you really learn my personality, because I can’t be anything different but me,” said La Toya, who's also one of the executive producers of the film, "Laughing in Jaffa," which just screened at the Tribeca Film Festival.
“As opposed to thinking, ‘Jeez, how odd, how strange,’ [I’m getting a lot of] ‘That’s fine. That’s people. This is interesting. I didn’t know that.’ It’s like, well, yeah, there’s nothing new really. This has been my life. You guys just didn’t see that side of it,” she told us.
Watch the trailer for "Life With La Toya" below.