Once again, Janet Jackson is in control. In her new documentary series, Janet Jackson., the pop icon opens up about practically every major story of her life: her brother Michael Jackson‘s scandals, her private life as a mom, and even the infamous Super Bowl Halftime Show. However, she kicks things off with going back to where it all began, and who it began with — and that means opening up about her father, Joe Jackson.
Once she and her brother’s became famous, reports began to run rampant that the family patriarch and manager was allegedly abusive to his children. Indeed, many of Janet’s siblings, including Michael back in 1993 in an interview with Oprah, have come forward to accuse Joe of beatings, as well as emotional abuse. In the first big reveal of the documentary, Janet opens up about her upbringing, sharing that she didn’t “experience” having a father as other kids did.
He was very tough,” she shared. “He told us what he wanted us to do and we did it.” At the start of the episode, Janet, along with her brother Randy Jackson, visit the house they grew up in early on in Gary, Indiana. Janet admits she doesn’t remember the place, being only a toddler when they moved away. But the visit reminds them both of how “strict” their father could be, but they never go so far as to call him abusive. On the contrary, of both their parents, Janet insists anything done was done out of love. “Discipline without love is tyranny, and tyrants they were not.”
Janet’s history with her father mirrors that of her brothers: once the boys fired Joe Jackson as their manager, he moved on to handling Janet’s career, even though she was very young. He worked to put out her first few albums, landed her the auditions for Good Times and Fame, both with led to big acting roles for her. But Janet admits that being famous wasn’t exactly what she wanted. At the time, she was looking forward to doing Girl Scouts and gymnastics like other girls her age. But that wasn’t in the cards. “I wanted to do those things, but I had to go to work,” she said, and later adding. “I never remember being ask, I just remember being put into it.”
It was then, just like her brothers, that she fired her father as her manager, and took command of her career, which led to her most successful albums to date, Control and Rhythm Nation. But despite their rocky relationship, Janet maintains a respect for her father, who passed away June 22, 2017. “It’s because of my father that I’ve had the career that I’ve had,” Janet said in the documentary. “It was tough at times, there was nothing easy about it, period. But when you see where we came from to where we are now, we owe so much to my father.”