Eight years after the death of her father, Paris Jackson, now 18, finally appears to be comfortable in her own skin.
But she had to withstand years of self-harming, cyber-bullying, a sexual assault, suicide attempts and getting sober to reach this point, she says.
In what Rolling Stone billed as her first in-depth interview, Michael Jackson's daughter revealed that she was assaulted by a stranger whom she described as "much older" and tried to kill herself multiple times. After the last attempt in 2013, she was sent to a therapeutic school in Utah, where she spent her sophomore year of high school and half of her junior year. She credits the experience with helping her to right the ship.
"It was great for me." Now, she says, "I'm a completely different person." But up to that point, 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."
Surprisingly, Jackson says modeling is therapeutic for her.
"I've had self-esteem issues for a really, really long time," she admitted, "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."
She added that after six years of being trolled online about her looks, she began to understand her father's plastic-surgery pursuits.
"The whole freedom-of-speech thing is great," she told writer Brian Hiatt. "But I don't think that our Founding Fathers predicted social media when they created all of these amendments and stuff."
When discussing Michael Jackson’s demise, Paris blames the infamous Dr. Conrad Murray for her father’s decision to use the surgical anesthetic propofol to treat his chronic insomnia. (Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson’s death in 2011 and served two years in prison.) Paris does not, however, think the drug and its misuse killed her father. Instead, she believes he was murdered. “Absolutely," she tells Rolling Stone. "Because it's obvious. All arrows point to that. It sounds like a total conspiracy theory and it sounds like bullshit, but all real fans and everybody in the family knows it. It was a setup. It was bullshit." Paris recalls "he would drop hints about people being out to get him, and at some point he was like, 'They're gonna kill me one day.’’ When asked who she believes could have killed Michael Jackson, Paris says, "A lot of people." In the meantime, Paris is biding her time in an attempt to see said alleged killer face the consequences of his or her crimes. "I definitely do, but it's a chess game,” Paris says about wanting justice for her father's death. “And I am trying to play the chess game the right way. And that's all I can say about that right now."
Here are five more interesting facts gleaned from Jackson's cover interview.
1. She lives in the studio where Michael Jackson first recorded Beat It
After turning 18, she moved out of the house where she lived with grandmother and guardian, Katherine, and took up residence in a studio within the Jackson family compound in the Los Angeles enclave of Encino. Boyfriend Michael Snoddy keeps his drums in the room where Jackson once rehearsed his dance moves.
2. She is certain Jackson was her biological father and considers herself black
"He is my father," she asserted. "He will always be my father. He never wasn't, and he never will not be. People that knew him really well say they see him in me, that it's almost scary."
In addition, she recalled that Jackson would "point his finger at me and he'd be like, 'You're black. Be proud of your roots.' And I'd be like, 'OK, he's my dad, why would he lie to me?'"
One thing she didn't buy into at the time: Having to wear a mask when he took her and her brothers out in public, though she eventually came to understand her father's reasoning.
These days, she is back in touch with biological mother, Debbie Rowe, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. "By the time my mom came into my life, it wasn't a 'mommy' thing. It's more of an adult relationship," Jackson says of their dynamic.
4. Her favorite movie is Captain Fantastic
Having spent her first seven years living at Neverland Ranch, Jackson can identify with the story of an eccentric dad (Oscar nominee Viggo Mortensen) who tries to create a paradise for his kids. But she and her brothers weren't allowed to do as they pleased.
"We actually had a pretty normal life," she explained. "Like, we had school every single day, and we had to be good. And if we were good, every other weekend or so, we could choose whether we were gonna go to the movie theater or see the animals or whatever. But if you were on bad behavior, then you wouldn't get to go do all those things."
5. The King of Pop loved to cook and cuss
"His fried chicken is the best in the world," she told Hiatt. "He taught me how to make sweet potato pie." And despite Jackson's legendary shyness, she reveals, when he did talk, "he did have kind of a potty mouth. He cussed like a sailor."