The fascinating La Toya Jackson has been through a lot in her life, and I am happy to say, is truly emerging on top. The pop culture icon reveals all for the cameras in “Life with La Toya,” which airs Saturday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.
I didn’t know what to expect as I got set to talk with Jackson about her life, reality show and recent engagement to business partner Jeffré. I was overwhelmed by her honesty, insightfulness, and positive spirit. La Toya is taking charge of her life and finds that a life on top also comes with its challenges. She’s tackled some long-harbored issues in therapy which has given her a newfound confidence, which is very apparent.
eH: A life on top is part of the title of the show. What does a life on top mean for you at this point?
La Toya Jackson: For me, a life on top is basically conquering and overcoming all of your fears in life. You are doing what you choose to do, what makes you happy and overcoming everything.
eH: It’s such a journey, isn’t it?
La Toya: It really is. You have no idea!
eH: I watched the first episode of the show, and you have some really great girlfriends. What qualities do you look for in your friends?
La Toya: In my closest friends, I look for honesty. That’s number one. I have to really trust them. That’s so difficult to find today. I’m not always open to that. I’ve gone through so much where I was so trusting. I was so religious. I believed that everybody, when they told you something, were telling the truth and you just believed them. I didn’t realize that people were so cutthroat and conniving, and that they would do anything to hurt you, harm you and put you down. That’s the number one factor in my life. Having trust.
eH: There are so many people who have been hurt and really have a hard time opening their hearts up to trust again. How does somebody get over this, in your experience?
La Toya: I always say that we all carry around luggage, every last one of us. This luggage sometimes weighs us down, particularly because we don’t try to find out the reason why it’s so heavy and what’s causing this to happen. So, I think it’s important to get help to rectify that. As far as trust, I think it’s important to pay close attention to the little things. If it’s a little white lie, it’s a lie. Be careful and observe the little things.
eH: How did you know that Jeffré was the one for you? What is it about him that makes you think he’s the right guy?
La Toya: Jeffré is one of the sweetest guys I have ever met in my life. He’s so generous and caring — he’s all of the traits you look for. He was right there all of the time and I didn’t even realize it! He was my best friend and my business partner. What struck a bell was when I was dating another guy, he was very concerned. I saw that concern turning into something more – this was a love concern. I realized after dating this guy that there was nothing about him that would make me want to spend the rest of my life with him. But Jeffré was all of those things.
eH: What an amazing story, he was right there the whole time!
La Toya: I know. Isn’t that funny, right there before my eyes the entire time and I wasn’t paying attention to it! He’s my best friend, he knows everything about me. There are no secrets. He knows what I like, what I don’t like … it’s amazing.
eH: I noticed that you are very strong in your communication skills with him. Really straightforward and honest.
La Toya: I’ve always been an open person, but when someone is around you that isn’t, it hinders and spoils everything for you. But with Jeffré, I’ve allowed myself to open up again. I know being open with him is not going to hurt or harm me.
eH: What else do you think you need to have in a relationship for it to work?
La Toya: I believe people need to have trust, as we discussed, and you have to have honesty. You have to really like each other. It’s so important to be friends first. We were best friends. At the end of the day, a lot of the physical attributes run out the door. If you are friends, you always have something to talk about.
eH: What advice would you give to someone still looking for love?
La Toya: I believe it’s never too late. I’m an advocate that it’s never too late to start over. I would advise anybody to look at themselves and say, “Is there something I am doing wrong? What is it? Why can’t I find what I’m looking for? Am I too picky? Am I over the top?” I truly believe that for everybody out there, there is someone for you. I believe in never giving up.
eH: I love that advice – to look within and take responsibility. Is it easy for you to take time for yourself these days?
La Toya: Truthfully, I don’t really know how to do that because I am always so busy working. But at the same time, Jeffré and I work together. There haven’t been many days we have been apart all of these 15 years. We never argue. It has a lot to do with his personality, but I don’t believe in arguing. I will walk away. I believe you allow yourself to get angry, no one else can make you angry or upset. You allow that to happen because only you control your thoughts. You control you.
eH: That’s right. It’s a choice.
La Toya: I became very analytical when I left my last husband/manager. I wanted to know why he did the things to me he did. I became too analytical about his life and him. From that, I learned that everything we do in life stems from our childhood, and it affects us as adults. When people get upset with you, I never really get angry with them because I think, “What went wrong in their life today? What are they unhappy about today?” That anger is not directed towards me. Because I think that way, it doesn’t allow me to get upset with people or allow them to upset me.
eH: That is really profound. It is about the other person and not you. We tend to personalize it, when it’s more about where they are in their lives…
La Toya: I always say to people, smile and be a little to kinder to the next person, because that’s good for you as well. If you have a thought that is disempowering you, reverse that and find a thought that will empower you. I promise you, your life will be a lot better!
I do believe in life that everything happens for a reason. God puts people in our lives for a reason, we just need to find out what that reason is. You learn from everything, just take the best from it and move forward. I always try to stay in a positive frame of mind. I try to surround myself with people that I feel are positive.
Image courtesy: OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network