Make no mistake about it, Paris Jackson is a force to be reckoned with. In just the first few months of 2017, Michael Jackson's daughter graced the covers of Rolling Stone and Harper's Bazaar, scored an acting gig with Lee Daniels, presented an award at the Grammys and launched a career as a model. After a couple of real speed bumps in her personal life, she's now well on her way to establishing her own identity in Hollywood. It's hard to believe the ubiquitous Paris is still just a teenager. Keep reading to see how the 19-year-old has transformed over the years…
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Paris Jackson — seen here with dad Michael Jackson about three weeks before his death in 2009 — has always been fiercely loyal to her father, often speaking about him glowingly and posting about him on social media. "Growing up, I was treated as the favorite because I was the only girl," she told Harper's Bazaar's April 2017 issue. "I was the princess; I was perfect in my dad's eyes." Sadly, Paris reportedly witnessed her father's death.
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She looks like a natural in front of the camera now, but Paris spent 11 years covering her face in public, as did her two brothers, Prince, 20, and 15-year-old Bigi (the name Prince Michael "Blanket" Jackson II reportedly goes by now). After Michael Jackson's death, his children no longer tried to conceal their identities. But there was a reason that Michael covered up his children's faces with masks early on. In 2011, Paris told Ellen DeGeneres, "I'm like, 'This is stupid, why am I wearing a mask?' But I kind of realized the older I got, he only tried to protect us and he'd explain that to us too." His theory was that his kids could have a normal childhood if no one knew who they were… I do have a regular childhood. I mean, I'm treated the same. When I came to [my new school] they didn't know who I was. I was like, 'Yes, I have a chance to be normal.'"
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The world got its first close look at Paris Jackson at her father's public memorial at the Staples Center on July 7, 2009, 12 days after his death. Toward the end of the memorial, the Jackson family gathered on stage and Paris, at the tender age of 11, spontaneously decided to say a few words. "Ever since I was born," she said, "Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine, and I just wanted to say I love him so much." A sobbing Paris was then cradled by her aunt, Janet Jackson. The moment was moving in every way.
Growing up, Paris Jackson has said that she basically only socialized with her brothers, Prince and Blanket, her dad and other grownups. "[The] only interactions I'd ever had were with family members or other adults," she told Harper's Bazaar, adding she "didn't have social skills. I had to force myself to learn so fast." Older brother Prince, whom she calls her best friend, said Paris is very similar to Michael Jackson. "Basically, as a person, she is who my dad is," he said. "The only thing that's different would be her age and her gender." Paris is similar to Michael, he said, "in all of her strengths, and almost all of her weaknesses as well. She's very passionate. She is very emotional to the point where she can let emotion cloud her judgment."
After Michael Jackson died, his children became fixtures at events that honored their father, where they often joined their grandmother, aunts and uncles. Since no one foresaw the King of Pop's untimely death, there were questions surrounding who would take care of Prince, Paris and Blanket. Would it be a member of the Jackson family or maybe even Debbie Rowe, Prince and Paris's biological mom? Eventually, in 2012 — after living under the guardianship of Michael's mother, Katherine Jackson — Michael's nephew TJ Jackson (the youngest son of Tito Jackson) was appointed as the kids' co-guardian.
Despite her wealthy Hollywood upbringing, Paris Jackson was hurting deep inside when she entered her teens. In 2013, tabloid headlines screamed that Paris had attempted suicide by taking 20 Motrin pills and slitting her wrists. "[I attempted suicide] multiple times," Paris admitted to Rolling Stone in 2017. "It was just once that it became public." She said her suicidal thoughts started after her dad died. After her last suicide attempt, she was sent to a therapeutic school in Utah. "It was great for me," she said. "I'm a completely different person. I was crazy. I was actually crazy. I was going through a lot of, like, teen angst. And I was also dealing with my depression and my anxiety without any help." She's also claimed she was sexually assaulted by a "complete stranger" when she was 14 years old.
Paris Jackson found love in April 2015. Then 17, Paris met soccer player Chester Castellaw. The two hit it off and were inseparable, often posting photos with each other on Instagram. They split that December. In the words of her father at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards, "And just think, nobody thought this would last…"
Her suicide attempts are well-documented, but Paris Jackson dropped a bit of a bombshell in February 2016 when she revealed that she's struggled with alcohol abuse too. In an epic tirade on Instagram, Paris lashed out at haters who criticized her every move. In doing so, she explained that she attended Alcoholic Anonymous meetings. "I am expected to literally sit on my a– all day replying to comments people leave me (positive and negative?) I have AA meetings. Family obligations. PERSONAL obligations," she wrote. At the time, no one in her family had ever really spoken of her struggle with alcohol.
As Paris Jackson got older, she discovered a new love: tattoos. She now has more than 50 tattoos! Paris has said that some of her ink covers the scars from suicide attempts and track marks from drug use (her words). In June 2016, she posted a photo of her ink to Instagram, along with a revealing caption. "Today I can look at my inner forearms and see art that has meaning for me, I don't see a dark past anymore. My scars and past of self-hatred have been covered by loving marks, creativity, ingenuity.. and depth," she wrote. Nine of her tattoos are devoted to her dad.
We all got to see Paris Jackson in a new light in January 2017 when she ditched her rocker tees and ever-changing rainbow hair and opted for an early Madonna-inspired look and tailored white skirt and blouse as part of a stunning photo shoot for Chanel under the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The photos were blasted across magazines and online and fans marveled at how beautiful she was and how natural she seemed in the spotlight. Big projects soon followed. "Paris is in a very happy place. She is pursuing her creative interests as an 18-year-old woman and feels like this is finally her time," a source close to Paris told "ET" after the Chanel shoot. "She wants to try modeling, acting and has been songwriting. She is grateful for the opportunities ahead."
On March 2, 2017, Paris Jackson announced that she had officially become a model and had signed with a top agency. "I feel very lucky and blessed," she said in her announcement. Of modeling, she told Rolling Stone, "Plenty of people think I'm ugly, and plenty of people don't. But there's a moment when I'm modeling where I forget about my self-esteem issues and focus on what the photographer's telling me — and I feel pretty. And in that sense, it's selfish."
She has the talent for TV! What many didn't know is that Paris Jackson has been taking acting classes for years. And in March 2017, she made her acting debut in Lee Daniels' "Star," a spin-off of FOX's hit show "Empire." "When I heard about 'Star,' I watched the first couple episodes and fell in love. I met Lee and he was kind of interested in getting me on the show," she said in a behind-the-scenes clip for the series. "Shooting was a lot of fun! Everybody was so nice." Get ready to see a lot more of Paris Jackson.