Janet Jackson shuts down rumour of ‘secret baby’ with James DeBarge

Grammy-winning artist suggests a reaction to birth-control pills may have been behind the speculation

Roisin O'Connor
Thursday 27 January 2022 08:35
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Janet Jackson documentary ‘Janet’ trailer

Janet Jackson has dismissed a long-running rumour that she had a “secret child” with her first husband, James DeBarge, during the year they were married.

The 55-year-old artist addressed the rumours in the second part of the forthcoming documentary Janet, along with a number of other gossip items she had heard about herself over the years.

“Back in the day they were saying that I had a child and I kept it secret,” Jackson said, per People. “I could never keep a child away from James. How could I keep a child from their father? I could never do that, that's not right.”

The Grammy-winning “Rhythm Nation” artist married DeBarge in 1984, when she was just 18. She gave birth to her first child, son Eissa El Mana, in 2017.

Jackson suggested that the rumours surrounding a “secret child” may have surfaced after she began taking birth-control pills while filming the show Fame, which caused her to gain weight.

During the documentary she also laughed off other rumours, including that her brother Randy’s daughter, Stevanna, was actually her daughter.

During part one of the documentary, Jackson revealed that her late brother Michael Jacksonused to fat-shame her, calling her a “pig” and “slaughter hog”.

“There were times when Mike used to tease me and call me names,” she recalled, before listing examples: “‘Pig’, ‘horse’, ‘slaughter hog’, ‘cow’.”

“He would laugh about it and I’d laugh too, but then there was some­where down inside that it would hurt,” she continued. “When you have somebody say you’re too heavy, it affects you.”

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Filmed over the course of five years, Janet examines the star’s personal life, as well as featuring archival footage of some of the biggest moments from Jackson’s music career, including the infamous 2004 Super Bowl performance with Justin Timberlake.

Fellow stars including Mariah Carey, Missy Elliott, Janelle Monáe, Paula Abdul and Tyler Perry also contributed to the series.

Janet will be available to watch on Sky Documentaries and NOW from Monday 31 January.

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