Now, the Starting Over author is prepared to pen a new chapter as the cameras trail her in the new OWN series Life With La Toya. There is no shortage of drama as she battles to revive her music career, considers adoption and flaunts her independence. –Camille Augustin
VIBE Vixen: What’s the most surprising lesson you’ve learned about yourself from doing the show?
La Toya Jackson: I learned that I wasn’t embracing certain people I should have [like men] because of my past and what I had gone through. I didn’t realize that I had just sort of shut them out without even realizing it. It was brought to my attention with the people that surround me, that work with me and my friends. I realized that I wasn’t able to trust. It was a subconscious thing. I didn’t even know that’s the way I was thinking.
One thing viewers will see on the show is that you discuss your abusive past relationship. Such as fellow reality television star Tamar Braxton, who also confronted her tumultuous past relationship. Did you use her as inspiration to talk about your experience?
This is my first time hearing that. I have never known that about her, but I will say that because of spousal abuse, I was always so on guard on making sure I don’t get involved with someone of that nature. Because of that, I eradicated men out of my life completely where I just indulged in constant business, where I never even thought about dating or any of those things. It’s a very sensitive subject and I can understand if she was affected by it because we all are.
VV: Since traveling back to your hometown of Gary, Indiana, did you gain a different outlook on your life?
LTJ: It’s so funny because you forget a lot of things. I left when I was really young, and the minute I stepped in that house, all the memories came back. I recall my brothers rehearsing in the front room. If it wasn’t for that place, if it wasn’t for my father and brothers, you wouldn’t have a Jackson 5, you wouldn’t have had a Michael Jackson so that was so warm to me, and it was almost as if the house and the people in the neighborhood embrace you so graciously that you just wanted to be there longer and stay forever.
Adoption is discussed on Life With La Toya. Have you taken measures in beginning the process?
It’s something that I always wanted to do since I was 16 because I always wanted to help kids in the world. When [my ex-husband and manager Jack Gordon] took me and my passport away and said you’re never going back to your family or you can never speak to them again, my life took a different course. It was like there’s no way I’m adopting a child with this person. It’s still my love and my heart, and you will see it play out in the story.
With Michael Jackson’s children embarking on their own careers, is Paris planning to pursue modeling?
She loves show business in general, doesn’t matter what it is. Kids are young and their minds change all the time, but she wants to act more than anything else. She wants to act, sing, dance, play guitar, drums, everything.
And how is Prince’s Entertainment Tonight hosting job developing?
He did that for one time only because he wanted to so badly. He and his father worked so closely together as far as directing because he wants to be a director. He knows that his father was telling him, “You should be doing this at 16.” When people say why is everyone pushing him to show business, no one is. This is their life, this is what they want, this is what their father wanted for them and they know that.
Have the two of them approached you for advice on how to deal with fame?
Yes, they do. It’s so important to me to let them know that your education is most important. I just went to the Academic Awards that Prince had, where he’s just a straight-A student and was inducted into the Academics of the World, which is really great. I’m just very proud of him for that. He knows that schooling is first, just in case something happens and [show biz] doesn’t work out for you, you can fall back on your brain.
VV: With a burgeoning career in music depicted on the show, what type of records do you plan to create?
LBJ: You will see who I eventually start working with. I am working with RuPaul and it’s dance music, so we’re having fun with it. It’s strictly club. I love songs that people can dance to and enjoy at the same time. It’s very simple but fun.
Are you open to working with any rap artists?
Yes, if I like what they’re doing and it’s a positive thing. There’s a lot of different rap artists that are out there that are really great, but you know who I’m really loving right now that’s not necessarily rap? Bruno Mars. I just love his music. And Will Smith. He hasn’t put out anything in a while but his rapping is so clean and I like that.
Do you know when we can expect your lead single or a projected album date?
I don’t know about an album because we are working on different songs, but it’ll probably be an EP. As far as a single coming out in the next few weeks, you’ll hear something with RuPaul. It’ll be the song you’re hearing on the show.
Who is your style inspiration?
I do my own thing. I wear a lot of things that I design and I have someone make it for me. When it comes to designers, I love Armani, Versace and Louis Vuitton.
What is your must-have clothing item this season?
I always wear a brooch. I put them everywhere, all over my blazers. If it’s not a brooch, then probably a blazer because you can pop it on and have a different look. That’s the business side of me. You can just throw on a blazer with jeans or anything and you’ll look fine.
Would you be open to creating a fashion line?
Absolutely. I have developed a few things. A lot of the things that you see me wear are things that I’ve developed and designed. It’s going to a little while but we’re working on it. It’s not something that happens overnight.
Life With La Toya premieres June 1 on OWN at 9:30 p.m.