The 11 Most Revealing Quotes From Janet Jackson’s New Documentary

The legend goes in-depth about her career, scandals, famous family, and relationships.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 29: Inductee Janet Jackson speaks onstage during the 2019 Rock & Roll Hal...
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For the first time in her nearly three-decade-long career, Janet Jackson is spilling the tea. In her new documentary Janet Jackson., which premiered on A&E and Lifetime on Jan. 28 and 29, the legendary singer-songwriter opened up for the first time in detail about her entire life, including growing up as a member of the Jackson family, the infamous 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show incident involving Justin Timberlake, and the 2009 death of her late brother Michael Jackson.

In the two-part documentary, Jackson tells her story with the help of family members — sister Rebbie, brothers Tito and Randy, and mother Katherine — plus famous faces like Mariah Carey, Paula Abdul, Samuel L. Jackson, Missy Elliott, and her ex-fiancé Jermaine Dupri. The artist holds nothing back, delving into her romantic relationships and how they defined her life and career. She even addressed long-documented accusations that she had a secret child with James DeBarge.

Every story leads up to Jackson’s current state of triumph and happiness, after she was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2019 and gave birth to her son Eissa, who celebrated his fifth birthday on Jan. 3. Now, she’s even hinting at a retirement in the near future.

These are the most memorable quotes from the new documentary.

Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson in 1993. AFP/Getty Images

“I remember [Michael Jackson] looking over at me, and the last thing we said to each other was ‘I love you.’ But at least I had that.”

Jackson recalled her last moment with her late brother Michael before his death in June 2009, explaining that she saw him for the final time at a surprise party her family threw for their parents, Joe and Katherine Jackson.

“Listen, I don’t want any drama for you. They’re aiming all of this at me. If I was you, I wouldn’t say anything.”

This is what Jackson told Justin Timberlake the day after their infamous 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show wardrobe malfunction. Most complaints from viewers and CBS, who aired the Super Bowl, were directed at Jackson, with Timberlake being allowed to perform on the Grammys the following week while she was uninvited as a guest. But instead of asking Timberlake to defend her, Jackson graciously told him to stay quiet to help himself.

Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake in 2004. Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

“Justin and I are very good friends, and we will always be very good friends. He and I have moved on, and it’s time for everyone else to do the same.”

In response to criticism about Timberlake’s role in the Super Bowl debacle, and how he didn’t face nearly as much backlash as Jackson, the singer inserted a video into the documentary pleading fans to go easy on him. In 2021, Timberlake issued a joint apology to Janet Jackson and Britney Spears. He wrote: “I’ve seen the messages, tags, comments, and concerns and I want to respond. I am deeply sorry for the times in my life where my actions contributed to the problem, where I spoke out of turn, or did not speak up for what was right. I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism. I specifically want to apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually, because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed.”

“Would it be nice to be able to perform? Yes. We love entertaining. But on the flip side of it, it’s drudging up the past, reliving something that happened over 10 years ago.”

After her brother and manager Randy told her that Timberlake asked her to perform with him at the 2018 Super Bowl Halftime Show, Jackson had mixed feelings about the invite, saying that she always likes to perform for fans — but not when it involves reliving a painful time in her life.

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“I could never keep a child away from James [DeBarge]. How could I keep a child from their father? I could never do that, that’s not right.”

Jackson finally quelled rumors that have been spreading for decades that she had a secret child with her first husband James DeBarge that one of her siblings raised. In 2016, DeBarge claimed that he did have a secret child with Jackson that he just became aware of, but in her new documentary, Jackson says she would never keep a child away from him.

“I wanted [René Elizondo Jr.] to be it, but I thought that every time.”

When her second husband René Elizondo Jr. proposed to her on the beach in Hawaii, Jackson said it felt very different from her first engagement, considering DeBarge had never formally proposed or given her a ring. The sentiment gave her hope that Elizondo was the one, but the pair eventually got divorced in 2000.

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“Jermaine [Dupri] was a really good guy with a really good heart. I wanted to have a family with him.”

Jackson revealed that she was engaged to her longtime boyfriend Jermaine Dupri. However, they broke up after nearly a decade of dating, in part because neither one of them wanted to relocate cities to move forward in their relationship.

“I was 50 when I had Eissa. They might say that that’s too old. I say it’s bullcrap.”

Jackson welcomed her first child Eissa in January 2017. At the time, many people were criticizing and concerned for the singer given that she was having a baby at 50 years old. Jackson did not care what others had to say, but she did admit that it was a long road to pregnancy, filled with IVF treatments and visits to multiple doctors around the world.

“I don’t ever remember being asked. I just remember being put into it.”

Thanks to her brothers’ successful group The Jackson 5, the youngest Jackson sibling landed in the music business, being used as a support act for the group before breaking out on her own. But as she confessed in the doc, this path wasn’t something that she ever asked for or wanted.

“There’s a great deal of scrutiny that comes with having that last name. I wanted my own identity. I didn’t want people to pick up this body of music because of my last name.”

The documentary covers Jackson’s first European promo tour in 1987, where she was asked about her brother Michael in every interview rather than just the success of her breakout album Control. It was just one of many instances where she struggled with the fame and notoriety that came with her last name, making her question whether people were truly interested in her art.

“It’s still a wonderful ride, but I’ve been thinking about the future. I want to concentrate on being a mother. I want to go out with a bang. A big bang.”

At the tail-end of her documentary, Jackson hinted that she may be retiring after more than three decades in the music industry. She’s not going to leave her fans hanging. In 2020, Jackson announced her new album Black Diamond and an accompanying tour which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She also previewed a new song, “Luv 2 Luv,” during the end credits of the documentary. She might be gearing up to slow down, but Black Diamond will still give fans what they’ve been wishing for.