10 Shocking Revelations from Janet Jackson’s Tell-All Documentary on Lifetime

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Anyone who hasn't been living under a rock these past two decades can understand why Janet Jackson is notoriously private. After dealing with scrutiny, wild rumors and scandals that involved her late brother, Jackson was careful to keep her personal affairs out of the spotlight. But now, with the release of Lifetime's four-hour documentary, Janet Jackson, the pop icon is ready to pull back the curtain.

Although we've yet to see the second installment of the two-night special, part one offers an intimate look at Jackson's past, featuring appearances by stars like Whoopi Goldberg, Paula Abdul and Regina King. And of course, there's no shortage of huge reveals. From her troublesome first marriage to her relationship with Michael, keep reading for the most shocking details we've learned so far.

1. Janet wanted to pursue business law, not music

Believe it or not, the pop icon had no intention of following in her brothers' footsteps. Instead, she wanted to lead a normal life, where she'd go off to college and study business law. But when her family came across a recording of her singing, her dad, Joe, had different plans.

Janet said, "I left the reel on the machine, and I came home from school and, sure enough, my father, Randy and Mike were there. They were listening to it. And that's when my father said to me, 'I want you to sing.'"

When Janet explained that she preferred to get her education and try a different career path, Joe wasn't very open to the idea.

With a chuckle, she continued, “What parent doesn’t want you to go to college? But he said, ‘No, you’re gonna sing.’ I would’ve liked to experience staying at a dorm, being around other kids. But I was very, very naive. Very shy. Not worldly at all.”

2. The Jackson family experienced racism when they moved to Los Angeles

After the Jackson 5 made it big, they moved from Gary, Indiana to an affluent white neighborhood in Los Angeles, making them the first Black family to live in Encino. Unfortunately, they didn't receive the warmest welcome.

"A lot of people didn't want us there," Janet said. "They had this petition going around so that we wouldn't be in the neighborhood. I remember walking down the street and being called the n word. Someone driving by, yelling it out."

The singer also detailed how she experienced racism at school. She continued, "Some of teachers and the kids [were] touching [my] hair because it was different from theirs, or [my] skin, rubbing it. [They'd ask,] 'Does that come off?'"

3. Janet Felt Like She Didn't Fit in with Her Brothers

Although she had a great relationship with her brothers, Janet revealed that there were times when she felt like an outsider, since they were all so focused on their music career.

She said, "We had a studio at home, and I would go in there and just watch my brothers rehearse all the time. I tried to be in the middle of [everything] with my brothers, they always had fun and I loved being around them. So when they had to work and travel, I missed them."

When asked whether she felt like an outcast at the time, she replied, "I just felt...where do I fit in?"

4. Janet wanted to omit her last name from the cover of her first album

Her self-titled debut album hit shelves back in 1982, but if the "Rhythm Nation" singer had her way, it wouldn't have included her full name.

In the doc, Janet explained, “I just wanted to go by my first name,. I wanted [fans] to accept me for me, to be interested in this for me, not because I was the brother or sister of [Michael Jackson]. But that’s everything that this industry takes advantage of. And they want to play on that, and I didn’t want that.”

5. She didn't want to join the cast of Fame

Cleo Hewitt may be a standout character from the classic series, but as it turns out, Janet had no desire to join the show. She said, "I didn't want to be on Fame, I didn't want to do the show. The kids were great, but I just didn't want to do that. I did it for my father."

6. She got into physical altercations with James DeBarge

Speaking of Fame, the "All for You" singer revealed that her tumultuous relationship with James DeBarge was mainly to blame for her indifference towards the show. She said, "There were a lot of times I was late for work. I didn't care, because what was more important than my work was James. I would sometimes wait for James to pick me up, and I mean wait. Two and a half hours late...I eventually learned that he was into drugs."

She recalled having to search the streets for her former husband, and the pair even got into fights whenever she tried to get rid of his drugs. She said, "We would be rolling on the floor fighting for them. That's not a life for anyone."

7. Janet revealed that she and DeBarge never had a secret child

There have been countless headlines about Janet and DeBarge reportedly having a secret child—thanks in part to DeBarge fueling those rumors. But now, she's setting the record straight.

She said, "Back in the day they were saying that I had a child and I kept it secret. I could never keep a child away from James. How could I keep a child from their father? I could never do that, that's not right."

Janet also addressed her weight gain at the time, which caused many to assume that she was pregnant. "I had started taking birth control pills," she said. "Back then, you could pick up weight taking them. And that's what happened to me. So that rumor started going around."

8. Janet and Michael started to drift apart after he released Thriller

The siblings were thick as thieves when they started out in the music business, and they even collaborated on music together. But when Michael released his sixth studio album, their relationship started to shift.

Janet recalled, "Whenever Mike would do an album, he'd throw me in his car and we'd listen to it from front to back to see what I thought. I remember really loving the Thriller album. But 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 continued, "That's the time where Mike and I started going our separate ways. We weren't as close."

9. It was difficult for Janet to make friends

Sustaining real friendships can get tricky when there's fame involved—and Janet knows this all too well. In a vintage clip from one of her earliest interviews, she revealed that having the Jackson name made it more challenging for her to recognize friendships that were genuine.

She said, "You don't know if they're really being your friend. Is it who you are or what you are? Do they want to just be your friend because you're Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson's sister? Or do they want to be your friend because they really like you deep down inside? That's been one of the hardest things for me to do. I don't have that many friends."

10. She got into heated arguments with her producers while recording in the studio

Back when Janet recorded Rhythm Nation 1814, her ex-husband, René Elizondo, recorded one of her biggest fights with her producers, Jimmy Jam and and Terry Lewis. In the never-before-seen footage, she's seen recording a song at Flyte Tyme studios, but Jimmy encourages her to sing with more emotion. When Janet tries for a second time, however, she starts to hear laughter.

After a heated back-and-forth about her vocals, Janet storms out, saying, "I don't need this. This has gone too far."

While discussing their many disagreements, Jam revealed, "If she disagreed with something, she was stubborn. Janet was very stubborn, but she would still attempt to do something."

Janet added, "It's a lot of pressure. It's a lot of work. Either you can handle it or you can't. It does affect you, and what you do with that is really important."

PureWow Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Janet Jackson fans will appreciate this rare and intimate look at the pop icon's life. It's a testament to her resilience and a welcome reminder that she is still in control of her own narrative.

For a full breakdown of PureWow's entertainment rating system, click here.

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