Culture

Paris Jackson Is Determined To Change The World

After growing up in the spotlight thanks to her famous father, the model, actress, and activist is making her mark both through creative work and through advocating for causes like the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation and Australia bushfire relief
Reading time 6 minutes

Photography by Alan Gelati

Styling by Deborah Ferguson

Musician. Lightworker. Treehugger. Activist. Give peace a chance. Though these phrases seem a bit random at first glance, they're in fact what Paris Jackson uses to describe herself in her Instagram bio. But when asked to elaborate? "[I'm] a person with a kind, honest, loyal, motivated, passionate heart, with positive energy and frequency," she says. "I'm also a little geek, with a passion for Star WarsThe Lord of the RingsHarry Potter, and all the Marvel movies. I would like to be remembered for my commitment — until death — towards the environment, animals, and human and civil rights. In addition to someone who has always fought to change the system. Power to the people!"

Born in Beverly Hills, California, Jackson is a free spirit. That independence was well-earned after years of struggling against obsessive intrusion into her life, given the legacy of one of the most influential families in music history, particularly her father Michael Jackson. She began her career modeling for IMG, which also counts Gisele Bündchen, Hailey Bieber, and Gigi and Bella Hadid among its clients, before expanding to music, television, and film. 

"Music is like the air I breathe — it is awareness, it is being able to create something bigger than me, and it is a way to express myself and externalise what I feel inside," Jackson says of what she loves about this aspect of her career. "It is difficult to describe these sensations in words, but the first that comes to mind is gratitude for being able to be part of this world. I don't know how my songs are born; I only know that I feel the need to get them out, and every time it happens it is an act of purification. I like writing rock songs, because that's what I love. But I'm also good at writing sad music, acoustic and folk pieces."

In 2018, Jackson formed The Soundflowers with her boyfriend, Gabriel Glenn. The group is now working on their first album, which she hopes will be ready around next fall. "Before Gabriel, I have never had such a profound collaboration with anyone," she says of her experience. "Our creations are born naturally; they develop organically. Meeting Gabriel was a revelation. Thanks to him, I discovered that I was born a musician. Music makes me happy, so I have no choice but to continue playing and singing."

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Jackson has many style icons, but two of the most influential are Stevie Nicks and Janis Joplin. "I love these alpha women, who have broken various barriers, not only in music, but also in fashion," she explains. "To me, they are legendary. I don't know if there will ever be anyone like them again. I like their style. When I get dressed, my priority is comfort, which is why I like the fashion of the '70s — it's comfortable but also stylish."

Being part of fashion is an opportunity for Jackson to speak out against the insecurities that the industry creates. "It's time to fight the unreachable stereotypes created by fashion," she says. "Unfortunately in the world we live in, it is practically impossible to feel comfortable, especially [in the age of social media]. I have insecurities, but I have learned to accept myself. I wish all girls felt beautiful in their own skin. Beauty is subjective; there is no single canon. Beauty is not measured in numbers, shapes, sizes, dimensions or colours. True beauty should be measured by a person's character, integrity, intentions, mentality, or words. I am human, not a doll. I have my defects: acne, cellulite, scars. The idea of perfection is ridiculous, because it is only a personal opinion."

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Before becoming a model and musician, Jackson had considered embarking on a career in psychiatry. "I have always hated being in the spotlight, but thanks to fashion, I thought I could expand my platform and instead of helping one patient at a time, my message could reach thousands of people," she explains of why she made the change. "I must also thank the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, which asked me to become an ambassador and gives me the opportunity to help sick people [in some way]. Elizabeth was very close to my father; she was my godmother. From her, I learned to have respect for people and to love animals."

One recent event in particular has inspired Jackson to speak out as much as possible. "The fires in Australia break my heart," she says. "The loss of millions of defenseless creatures is devastating, and unfortunately, there are also missing people. If you can donate, there are various organisations to contribute to, such as NSW Rural Fire Service, Country Fire Authority, The Salvation Army Australia, WIRES Austrian Wildlife Rescue Organization, and WWF Australia, that need our help. The important thing is to spread the word. From there, we can start acting."

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Coming up, Jackson also has a role in The Space Between, a movie set in the '90s Los Angeles rock and roll scene and directed by Rachel Winter, one of the producers behind Dallas Buyers Club. And it looks like the project is one of many things further feeding her activist spirit. "Many of my inspirations for changing the world come from cinematic references and the Beatles," she explains. "The first song that changed my life is 'In My Life,' which has beautiful music and lyrics and was played at the Kurt Cobain memorial. I also would add Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, Future Islands, and Manchester Orchestra to my list of top inspirations." 

As the world rages on with a new decade, so many political, artistic, and social developments are happening, and while some of this might raise uncertainty, Jackson is happy to see young people speaking out amidst it all. "Fortunately, the new generation is growing and tired of enduring — it demands change and honesty from the government," she explains. "We are tired of unrealistic lies and expectations in politics. Racists, homophobes, and sexists will lose against the strength and determination of people with an open mind, unobstructed by stupidity and racism."

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Credits

Hair Peter Savic / No-Name Management

Makeup Francesca Tolot / Cloutier Remix

Nails Barbara Warner using Chanel Le Vernis in Pirate

Creative Direction Priscilla de Giorgi

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