Janet Jackson Finally Addresses Secret Love Child Rumors In New Docuseries
Jackson reflects on her failed marriage to James DeBarge, their fights over his alleged drug use and persistent rumors Janet's sister raised their secret love child.
Janet Jacket gives fans a rare look into her love life on the first two hours of her “Janet” docuseries for A&E on Friday night.
The episodes revolve around the early years of the legendary performer’s career, from her time as a child star and teen actor up until her first big tour following the release of “Rhythm Nation” in 1989. And, when it comes to her personal life, the show covers her first marriage and divorce and the star on her way toward her second marriage.
One of the biggest things being teased about the doc ahead of its premiere was Janet finally addressing persistent rumors she and first husband James DeBarge had a secret love child in the ’80s — a kid she supposedly had her sister Rebbie raise to keep up the ruse. Anyone hoping for a shocking reveal is in for a letdown though, as Jackson officially called BS on the gossip.
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“Back in the day they were saying I had a child and I kept it secret,” said Jackson, as “Fame” costar Debbie Allen recalled Janet being with them every day on set around the time she would have allegedly been pregnant, asking, “Where was the baby?”
“They were saying I was raising her daughter,” added Rebbie. “I couldn’t believe it. I don’t know where that ridiculous idea came from.”
“First they were saying my niece Brandi was my daughter and that I gave her to [brother] Jackie to raise and then because Randy’s daughter looks so much like me, they started saying it was Stevanna,” Janet recalled. “When I was doing ‘Fame,’ a lot of the kids thought I was pregnant because I had gained weight and I started taking birth control pills. Back then, you could pick up weight taking them and that’s what happened to me.”
“So that rumor started going around,” she added, before getting emotional as she said she “could never keep a child away from James” if they had one together. “How could I keep a child from their father?” she asked, “I could never do that. That’s not right.”
James has spoken about their alleged love child numerous times over the years and a woman named Tiffany Whyte even appeared on “Growing Up Hip Hop” claiming to be the child in question:
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Speaking more about her relationship with James, Janet said the two of them used to talk on the phone a lot as kids, because one of his brothers had a thing for her sister La Toya. They started dating when she was 16, with Janet calling him a “sweet” and “nice guy.”
By 18, she was married, saying part of her decision to tie the knot was to try and have a little control over her life at a time when her father was controlling her image.
“I wanted to be able to stand on my own feet and at that time I felt there was no other way to get my own life unless I got married,” she said. “James and I decided to get married. My sister Toya said if that’s what you want to do, then you should do it. So I did, in secret.”
According to Rebbie, she didn’t even meet James until after the two said “I do.”
“Did Janet tell you about that part?” she joked, recalling their parents were “shocked” when they found out she got married. “It didn’t bother me at all until I started learning things that wasn’t cool,” added Tito, before Janet revealed that it didn’t take long for her to see some red flags.
“I remember going to Michigan, to Grand Rapids and his uncle, he was a pastor and he married us. I even remember putting a ring on my finger and putting it on the wrong finger,” she recalled. “When we got married and we came back to the hotel, he said, ‘I’ll be right back.’ And I’m sitting in a hotel room in Grand Rapids, Michigan by myself, just 18 and for 3 hours he never came back. I don’t know, maybe it’s this person in me that wants to help people. Subconsciously, when it comes to relationships, somehow I’m attracted to people that use drugs.”
The marriage had a negative affect on her professional life as well, as Debbie Allen recalled her being closed off while working on “Fame” and Janet admitted “there were a lot of times I was late for work.”
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“I didn’t care, because what was more important than my work was James. I would wait for James sometimes to pick me up and I mean wait, two-and-a-half hours late. I eventually learned that he was into drugs,” she claimed. “There were a lot of nights I would go searching the streets looking for him. 3:00 in the morning, 4:00 in the morning. I remember times I would find the pills, I would take them and try to flush them down the toilet and we would be rolling around on the floor fighting for them. That’s not a life for anyone.”
Though Janet said she saw a lot of good in him and “wanted that to take precedence, as opposed to this ugliness,” she also acknowledged that he “needed help.”
“I wasn’t the help that he needed. I remember eventually deciding to get a divorce — or an annulment, it only lasted a year — one day he wanted me to drive him to his brother’s house and that’s when I told him,” she explained. “He was so mad and so frustrated and when he got out of the car, I locked the doors. I remember driving back home to my parents house, I was just done.”
Calling herself “just incredibly innocent” at the time, she added it was “hurtful for someone to see that and just try to take advantage of it and knowing you don’t know any better and lie to you.” Crying, she then told her producer, “I don’t want to talk about this anymore. It doesn’t matter how much work you do, it’s still painful.”
A rep for DeBarge could not be located.
The two-night, four-hour “Janet” event airs Friday and Saturday night on both Lifetime and A&E.
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