“This season, I am really letting people into my life and I’m just putting it out there,” says La Toya Jackson of the summer return of her quirky docuseries, Life with La Toya, which premieres with back-to-back episodes Saturday, June 7 on OWN. “You really get to see that I’m not afraid and I’m not holding anything back.”
So while the fifth child of the legendary Jackson family continues to work through some long-repressed issues, she’s excited to bring her fans along as she enjoy the fruits of her flourishing confidence — including a recent guest stint in NEWSical the Musical, new music in the offing, and a surprising offer from her business partner and best pal, Jeffré Phillips.
Though tabloid reports had the pair tying the knot all the way back in December of 2013, Jackson only confirmed their engagement earlier this week and insists they have not married.
“That was definitely a rumor,” she says emphatically, adding that viewers will see how the betrothal came to be as the summer season plays out. “Yes, he does propose and it gets very complicated, because, as you know, Jeffré and I have been business partners and best friends and the whole bit and it gets very complicated. You will have to go for the ride and see us work through this and what happens at the very end.”
Jackson says she’s also excited to share more onscreen time with her mother Catherine and father, Joe. “They are a major part of my life and I just love them so much!” she says. “I know that they won’t be here forever and ever and ever and ever, so I want to spend as much with them as I possibly can.”
Even when the cameras aren’t rolling, Jackson that mom and dad are thrilled with how far their middle daughter has come since freeing herself from an abusive marriage to former manager Jack Gordon — an ongoing metamorphosis she chronicled in her 2012 memoir Starting Over, which she says she also to encourage other women in controlling relationships that it’s never too late to make a fresh start.
“My mother is extremely — they are both very, very proud — but my mother is extremely proud of the fact that she feels that I’m not as shy as I used to be,” says Jackson. “I always had this inside of me, but I’m happy that she sees me quite differently — which shows me a lot!”
That newly outgoing nature extended itself all the way to New York’s Theatre Row last September, when Jackson accepted a week-long guest stint in the Off-Broadway production of NEWSical The Musical.
“That was so much fun!” Jackson exclaims. “That was completely — and I do mean completely — different for me. I was terrified, I was nervous and I didn’t know what to expect! I didn’t know if I would be able to remember my lines. I didn’t know if I could learn this in such a short period of time. There were so many obstacles in my way — and then Jeffré tried to take me away to Hawaii! But once I got into the loop of it, I said, ‘Geez, I like this! I can commit to this!’ I noticed it made me a bit stronger, presenting myself in front of a crowd every single day, shouting as loud as I possibly could and knowing that you have to really just belt those words out. Everything in life is a learning experience, and that one was good for me!”
A knack for impersonation coupled with NEWSical’s freeform style even led to her embodying the very woman whose network carries Life with La Toya — Oprah, herself.
“I didn’t know that I was gonna to do that!” Jackson says. “It’s one of those things where you are working on the play and they sort of tailor it to each individual. I just kind of jokingly imitated her and they said, ‘You can do her!’ and I said ‘No, I can’t! It’s not me — I can’t speak that deep and that low! They said ‘No, we hear it, we hear it!’”
Jackson is also excited to continue the musical collaboration she began with her good friend RuPaul in Season 1.
“RuPaul did release ‘Feel Like Dancing’ and that was exciting to know it’s out there and people are loving it,” she says. “And on upcoming episodes you will see another single that we recorded and that we do a video for called ‘Feels Like Love,’ which will be out in July probably around that time is when that episode will be shown. I’m excited for that. I look forward to expressing music through the show!”
As for the rest of the season — and the life that inspired it — Jackson says the twists and turns keep coming, but she’s finally learned to embrace the ride. The whole ride.
“There are so many different things that go on — you have no idea,” she giggles. “It’s always a left turn and a right turn and a left turn and a right turn, and like I said, it gets complicated at moments. I just find my way through it and figure it out and keep moving forward as best I possibly can!”
New episodes of Life with La Toya air Saturday nights at 10/9CT on OWN.
Images/video: OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network