Looking from the outside in, it appears that the members of music’s royal family have what so many covet: Fame, fortune, and a discography that has laid down the foundation for artists in the past, present, and future. As a member of the Jackson family, La Toya Jackson is giving viewers another inside look into her life on the second season of her OWN reality television show, Life with La Toya. The first season revealed that Jackson is human and goes through the same things other people deal with—for example, coping with the loss of a family member, taking a plunge into the dating pool, and even celebrating being independent with a fresh start. While Jackson is no stranger to the spotlight, this season she’s making sure the lights remain bright on her career. The pop diva and best-selling author is penning another chapter of her life that includes tackling acting on stage, reviving her music career, and planning a wedding to her long- time friend and business partner, Jeffre Phillips.
SoulTrain.com caught up with La Toya Jackson to discuss Life with La Toya, and her family’s contribution to Black Music Month.
SoulTrain.com: First, congratulations on your engagement! What a gorgeous ring! What were you thoughts when you saw that 17.5 carat diamond ring?
La Toya Jackson: Thank you so much! When I saw it I thought, ‘Oh, he definitely knows me!’ (laughs) When he proposed, Jeffre said he didn’t have a ring and I said don’t even worry about that, you don’t ever have to get a ring. The dessert came on a tray and when they lifted the lid, the ring was there and it was just beautiful, absolutely beautiful. I thought, ‘He really knows my taste,’ which I knew he did, of course.
SoulTrain.com: He’s your best friend so that makes things easier going forward; there’s that connection.
La Toya Jackson: Right! That’s what makes it so easy. He knew everything about me already, so it wasn’t like learning a new person at all. Jeffre knows all of my habits, all of my idiosyncrasies, all of it.
SoulTrain.com: During the first season, you got the push to get out and start dating, but now that problem has been solved.
La Toya Jackson: Yes, that is definitely solved. I never thought it would be resolved so rapidly. It was one of those things that I just didn’t want to do it the first season, so that was very interesting.
SoulTrain.com: Do you have any advice for those who are looking for the right one?
La Toya Jackson: I never would have said this before since I didn’t want to do the whole dating thing, but going to therapy has opened my mind to that. Prior to that, I would have said start dating when you’re ready. Now I say if you’re looking for love and looking for someone to spend your life with, keep searching and searching until you find the right one, and you will know when it’s right for you. I have to say, Jeffre is such an incredible guy, and I think I’m very fortunate. I just wish every girl had a guy like him. He has so much to offer, he makes sure he gives you his undivided attention and he’s always making sure that you’re okay first before anything else. I think that we all want that.
SoulTrain.com: Also in the first season of the show, you wanted to get closer to your father and even call him dad instead of Joseph, so how has that relationship been going? Have you been able to continue getting closer to your father?
La Toya Jackson: It’s been going really well. I have spent a lot of time with him and my mother as well. It’s something that I consciously want to do because they are getting older and I don’t want to have any regrets later, so I’m doing that now before it’s too late. Our parents get older and I just want to spend as much time as I can with them.
SoulTrain.com: In the first season, you also mentioned wanting to adopt, and there was the episode where you were watching the two kids. So did that experience change your mind at all or is that still the plan?
La Toya Jackson: Weren’t those two a handful? After that I said I’m not sure about this adopting thing. Then I just spent some time with my mother and the family, and my brother Jackie and his four month old twins, and after I saw him with them, I thought I want two! So, yes, that’s coming back around again, so I have to truly have to see what I want in my heart because it is a lifetime thing.
SoulTrain.com: What made you decide to do a second season. The Jacksons are pretty private, but you are giving people a peek into your personal life?
La Toya Jackson: You are absolutely right, it’s very personal. It’s my life and it lets people learn more about me and then you get to see it as opposed to pre-judging. You learn who La Toya is, and thank goodness for my mother saying, “Let them see who you are, they have it all wrong, and just be yourself.” So I continued on with it, and I’m more open this season than I was last season. This is a great season, by the way.
SoulTrain.com: Do you think the show has been able to clear up any of the misconceptions people may have had about you?
La Toya Jackson: You know, whatever the misconceptions were or is, whatever that may be, they will see who La Toya is through Life with La Toya when they tune in on Saturday nights at 10PM on OWN.
SoulTrain.com: Are there any major themes that you will be dealing with in the new season?
La Toya Jackson: Yes there are. As far as the show is concerned, you will see that I am working on acting, coming to New York doing Broadway in this play called NEWsical The Musical. I just really tap into a lot of things that I felt was necessary for me to do. You want to get that bigger voice out, that way you aren’t so shy and everyday you are on that stage and talking to people live; it’s a major step for me because my voice isn’t that big. I love doing things that better me, so you will see me doing those things. I also decided to do another record, and it will be released in a couple of weeks when the show airs and you can get it on iTunes and I will also be releasing a video. I also decided to do a performance, and you do it all naturally and you prepare it exactly the way you want it and I start to perform the song and everything goes wrong. So these are the obstacles you are faced with that are being captured and this is what you will see. You will also see me searching for venues for the wedding as well. This show is a roller coaster, it’s up and down, but it’s so much fun.
SoulTrain.com: You wear so many hats as an entertainer, businesswoman, television personality, and author. Will you be writing another book?
La Toya Jackson: I don’t think I will be writing another book, but it’s always in the back of my head. I love children’s books and I would love to do a positive book for little kids so in that sense, yes. Starting Over was a book that helped a lot of people and I’m so glad. We have to learn that no matter what we go through in life, no matter what the obstacles are, no matter how difficult it may be for us, you can always start over. You have to forget about the past and move forward, and try to make the best of your life and never feel down or bothered because you were abused or taken advantage of. Put it behind you; learn from it, but put it behind you.
SoulTrain.com: What else are you working on?
La Toya Jackson: I executive produced a movie called Dancing in Jaffa, and it’s in the theaters now. It’s a documentary that takes place in Israel. It’s a wonderful film and I’m very proud of it. So far we’ve won seven awards and we’re hoping to keep going and win an Oscar. It’s bringing unity through the art of dance, two cultures that live together but they can’t seem to get along. We kind of make that happen through the children so they learn to ballroom dance, be polite and love each other. It’s just a wonderful loving movie. It’s in select cities right now. We are doing extremely well with it right now. You can check out the trailer and get the information about the film on the website.
SoulTrain.com: It’s Black Music Month, so coming from such a musical family, how do you think your music has contributed to the celebration of black music?
La Toya Jackson: First of all I have to say that music is universal; it’s an unspoken language to me that brings unity to all. That’s the one thing that’s great about it to me. When you say “celebrating Black Music Month,” I truly believe the root of all music comes from black music. That’s where the spring board is from and that’s why we have the music we have today. It’s amazing how you can hear something and that something brings and triggers so many wonderful memories and it just makes you feel jovial, pleasant and so good. Music is a silent universal language as well. It brings joy, such happiness to people and I think we should just embrace it with everything that we have. I feel that the Jackson family has contributed a lot to the music industry. I’m proud to say that everybody that has liked the music of the Jacksons, that if they are able to succeed off of it and move forward and better their life, then that’s great and wonderful for me.
Shameika Rene’ is a journalist of all trades. She can usually be found producing television news and writing for various websites such as Charlotte Vibe, Creative Loafing, Carolina Style Magazine, Uptown Magazine, or her own websites, www.themofochronicles.com and www.conversationswithmeik.blogspot.com. Follow her on Twitter @mofochronicles.