Prince Jackson sat down with the Los Angeles Times for an extensive new interview in which he remembered his famous father, Michael Jackson

By Jordan Runtagh
November 03, 2016 05:30 PM
Credit: Barry King/FilmMagic

Michael Jackson dazzled the world with his unparalleled singing and dancing skills. His son, Prince, can do neither of those things. And he’s totally fine with that.

The 19-year-old sat down with the Los Angeles Times for an extensive new interview in which he remembered his famous father, and discussed how he’s establishing his own place in the world.

Instead of performing, Prince has turned his attention behind the scenes. In the beginning of the year he produced a music video for Omer “O-Bee” Bhakti’s “Automatic.” Soon after, he founded his own company, King’s Son Productions — the name clearly referencing his father’s King of Pop moniker.

“Music is a big part of my life,” he says. “It shaped who I am because of my family, but I’ve always wanted to go into production. My dad would ask me what I wanted to do and my answer was always producing and directing.”

Though he makes an effort to “[get] out there more now with the company,” his mannerisms are not very different from your average college-bound teenager — and miles away from the flamboyant personalities found in the extended Jackson family.

Echoes of his heritage are predictably difficult to escape. He lives in Hayvenhurst, a two-acre estate in Encino, California, that once belonged to his father. It contains luxuries like a 32-seat movie theater and a Japanese koi pond, as well as a home studio used to record smashes like “Off the Wall” and “Thriller.” Walls are papered with images of Michael with a galaxy of stars. “I think people appreciate it a lot more than I do,” he admits. “To me, these are family photos.”

He describes the home as a “sanctuary,” which was especially true in the wake of his father’s death in 2009. His grandmother, family matriarch Katherine Jackson, moved in to care for Prince and his two siblings, Paris and Prince Michael II. She was joined by a host of extended relations. “It was beneficial. There was 16 people here,” he explains. “It took you away from the grief. We’d wake up in the middle of the night, make quesadillas and talk.”

While the bond with his paternal side of his family is strong, relations with his biological mother, Debbie Rowe, is essentially non-existent. She reportedly forfeited parental rights over Prince and daughter Paris, her children with Jackson, in 2001.

“I’m very lucky to have two mother figures in my life, my grandmother and my cousin Frances. As for my birth mother, she’s always been more of a friend, and that works for us,” he says. “You could say my whole life has been unconventional. I really love that though, and it’s all I’ve ever known.”

Prince still feels the loss of his father acutely, though he tries to mitigate the pain by throwing himself into studying the martial art of jujitsu. A recent grief class helped to a point, but he acknowledges that a quick remedy is impossible. “I don’t think it’s anything you ever get over,” he says. “It’s always going to be a part of your life that’s missing. The way I cope with it is incorporating him into my life in every way — from my company logo having little bits of him [to] using his metaphors and trying to follow everything he taught us.”

As if by cosmic coincidence, he began his sophomore year studies at Loyola Marymount University on Aug. 29 — what would have been his father’s 58th birthday. There he’s majoring in business, which he hopes will come in handy with his fledgling company, as well as a “service organization” he founded with a classmate based on Michael’s Heal the World Foundation.

“Honestly, I’m just going with the flow. I’m still young, my ideas can change,” he maintains. “I can never be separated from my father — he set that big of an example. And I don’t really have a problem with that. I’m proud to have his name and to be his son.”