La Toya Jackson, the tabloid-staple middle child of music’s most famous family, says the decision to invite television cameras into her personal life was an easy one for a single, liberating reason: At long last, nothing and no one stand in her way.
“There is such a misconception about not just me, but my family, as well,” Jackson tells Zap2it of her new OWN series “Life With La Toya,” premiering Saturday (April 13). “For the first time, this is something I want to do. The Jacksons have always been a mystery. That mystery has been unveiled.”
Though the show addresses a stockpile of Jackson family dramas in the very first episode — from the long-term abuse La Toya suffered at the hands of her manager/husband Jack Gordon to the blistering infighting that followed her superstar brother Michael’s 2009 death — there is a charming lightness to its star that manifests itself in her infectious “hee-hee-hee!” giggle.
Jackson says the series is also a natural extension of her 2011 memoir “Starting Over,” which she wrote in part to encourage other women in controlling relationships that it’s never too late to make a fresh start. Viewers see the youthful-looking 56-year-old house hunting with longtime pal Kathy Hilton; bonding with her father, Joe; running her entertainment conglomerate, Ja-Tail; dating; and joining her mother on a memory-filled road trip to an annual celebration of Michael’s life held in their hometown of Gary, Ind.
“In the beginning, I couldn’t do it,” she says. “I would just cry and cry. Finally I said, ‘If his kids can do it, you can do it. Get a grip and move forward, because this is what he would want you to do.'”
Jackson considers her brave new life a very personal way of honoring Michael, who never got his own shot at a normal existence.
“Our lives are so parallel,” she says. “He didn’t get to have those experiences either. My other brothers did — they had friends and girlfriends. They lived their lives as normally as they possibly could. For me and my brother, it was different.”