In the mid-80s, it was the rumor that could not be contained. Shortly after marrying fellow singer James DeBarge in 1984, a young Janet Jackson found herself at the center of some major gossip. Somewhere along the way, a story came to light that Janet had gotten pregnant while starring on the hit show, Fame, and had a secret daughter tucked away no one knew about. Forty years later, Janet is still trying to shut down the story.
“Back in the day they were saying that I had a child and I kept it secret,” Janet said in an interview in her new documentary, Janet Jackson. She explained the elaborate, wild conspiracy theories that have gone on, and are still talked about to this day: how her “secret baby” was raised by her sister, Rebbie, or possibly brother Jackie, pointing to her niece Brandy, (Rebbie’s daughter) and brother Randy‘s daughter Stevanna, because of how much they looked alike. But Janet maintains she never had a daughter, or any child at all with her ex James, and if she did, she would’ve never kept them from him. “How could I keep a child from their father?” she asked in interview. “I could never do that, that’s not right.”
So how exactly did all the rumors get started? Janet tries to shed some light on that in the documentary as well, pointing to a time in her life when she started to put on some weight, but for a very different reason. ” I had started taking birth control pills,” she explained, during the time she was on Fame. “And back then, you could pick up weight taking them, and that’s what happened to me. So that rumor started going around.”
Given the turbulent nature of her marriage with James, which only lasted a year, the rumors of a secret daughter wasn’t the only headline that came out of that era of Janet’s life. Janet quickly learned that James’ was very heavily into drugs, something she couldn’t see when they got together, pointing to her own “innocence”. “I cared so much for him, and I saw the good in him as well and I just wanted that to take precedence as opposed to this ugliness. ‘Cause I knew that he needed help. But I wasn’t the help that he needed.”
These days, Janet has a very different life and relationship. She eventually welcomed son Eissa in 2017, who just recently celebrated his 5th birthday, with Wissam Al Mana ,who she married in 2012, but divorced in 2017.